Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oatmeal-Graham Bread (#2)

The weather last weekend was alternatively rainy or hot, which meant there was almost no gardening accomplished at our house. I was stuck in the house baking, poor me. Included on the menu was another oatmeal bread, this time from Beth Hensberger's Bread for All Seasons, which I've owned for years but hadn't tried.

This bread bakes up beautifully, with a dark brown crust coated with sesame seeds. Not nearly as sweet as Oatmeal Bread #1, but instead I detected a slightly sour, almost fermented flavor. I'm hardly an expert on yeast breads, but I suspect that the greater amount of yeast might be the cause. Still,  the loaves were cheerfully devoured, mostly as breakfast toast on busy mornings.

Baker's Notes: Some coarse grind whole wheat flour is referred to as graham flour, it just has a bit more flavor, which is useful in bread recipes. Sometimes I buy Hodgson Mill wheat flour for this reason, otherwise I use the always reliable King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour.  I used my trusty stand mixer for this recipe, but a wooden spoon and a strong arm would work just as well. I do love maple syrup, but it's more expensive than honey, use what you prefer. I keep sesame seeds in the freezer so they don't go rancid. Buy them in the bulk section at Whole Foods or your local natural foods store, much cheaper that way.

Oatmeal-Graham Bread
adapted from: Bread for all Seasons

  •     2    cups    boiling water
  •     1    cup    rolled oats
  •     ½    cup    honey or maple syrup
  •     4    tablespoons    unsalted butter
  •     1 ½    tablespoons    active dry yeast
  •     pinch of   sugar
  •     ¼    cup    warm water
  •     2    teaspoons    salt
  •     1 ½    cups    graham or whole wheat flour
  •     2 ½-3    cups     unbleached all purpose flour
  •     extra rolled oats for sprinkling
  •     1       egg yolk
  •     2    tablespoons    sesame seeds

In a large bowl or the work bowl of a stand mixer, por the boiling water over the oatmeal. Add the honey or maple syrup and butter, stir to mix thoroughly. You can use a wooden spoon, but I used the paddle attachment on my mixer, since I was going to continue using it later. Let this mixture cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, soften the yeast in the warm (not hot) water, adding the pinch of sugar. The  should foam up in 5-15 minutes.

Add the yeast mixture to the (now room temperature) oatmeal. Add the salt, whole wheat flour, and 1 cup of the unbleached flour. Beat hard until smooth - about a minute. Add the remaining unbleached flour,  ½ cup at a time, until a soft sticky dough is formed, that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and springy, about 3 minutes, adding only a tablespoon of flour at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. The dough will feel nubby and slightly tacky. Place in a deep oiled bowl, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

When risen, turn the dough out onto the work surface and press it down gently to deflate it. Divide the dough in half and shape it into two loaves. Grease or spray the baking pans (I used 8½" by 4½") and sprinkle oatmeal all over the bottom and sides. Place the dough in the pans, cover and let rise till doubled in bulk, the dough should be an inch above the pan's rim, 45 minutes to an hour. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375°F, and move the oven rack to the lower third position.

Gently brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg yolk, and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds. , Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, the loaves should be browned. Remove from pans, then let cool completely on racks.

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