Oatmeal Wheat Bread
March 7, 2008
I guess you could say I’ve been rolling in the dough this week. Between the pitas I made last weekend and this gorgeous loaf, I seem to be on yet another bread baking bender. I’ve been proofing, kneading and, um, carb loading. And, meanwhile, the no-knead recipe on my to do list still languishes. Soon, soon. I swear.
It was (finally) Kevin’s pick for this week’s Family Dinner menu. He requested BLTs, which, of course, don’t involve all that much cooking. Given the chance that I’m busy studying for an ethics exam right now, one might guess that I’d relish the thought of a night with so little cooking. And, one would be wrong. What did I go and do? First, because the tomatoes are oh-so-woeful right now, I decided to roast roma tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, rendering what could’ve been bland, mealy rounds of tomatoes into savory, soft, slightly charred wedges. Then, I decided we should have homemade bread too.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Sure, it was a little unreasonable. And Kevin might have rolled his eyes just a little bit when I announced my plans to bake the bread. But I didn’t hear anyone complaining when this loaf emerged from the oven. And it’s a very good thing that this bread and the resulting BLTs were a success, because the side dish—homemade baked potato chips—was a complete disaster. Let’s just say that I’m very glad there is no photographic proof of the sad, limp Russet strips that I reluctantly heaped next to the BLTs.
But, let’s focus on the positive, shall we? The bread was not just a looker. It was also delicious—nutty, slightly sweet and dense. My only slight complaint is that it became a little crumbly when we toasted it, but the flavor was still delicious.
Oatmeal Wheat Bread
2 cups whole milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
1/2 cup mild honey
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Heat milk in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.
Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Stir yeast mixture, melted butter, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.
Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly butter loaf pans. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats, then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)
Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.