Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've Seen the Future and it Scares Me

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I first read about this recipe here on Molly Wizenberg's brilliant blog Orangette. She has a food sensibility I truly admire, with eloquent writing to make you really want to cook whatever it is she's making (to wit: fennel salad, roasted tomatoes, etc.) 

Molly makes some very good points in her adaptation of this recipe. First, is: stir your flours before measuring to fluff them up. Flour packs itself quite well, and good measurements are key to good baking. She also changed up the salt recommendation from the original recipe, going from Kosher salt to regular table salt. 

I started making this recipe out of curiosity, and continue because it's a fabulous recipe for someone starting out baking bread. I don't have a bread maker, and based on having borrowed the one my mother kept in the basement for years, I don't ever intend to. This recipe requires a stand mixer with a dough hook, and standard sized loaf pans. It is now an indispensable recipe in my repertoire. Having "eating" bread around ensures we get through the week with the sandwich bread I buy at the store. 

Two weeks ago, we invited friends over to help bake four loaves of bread. Monica's sons are interested in cooking, and wanted to know how they too can bake bread. And that's where I saw my future. Her boys are 14, 12, and 10, and they EAT. MASSIVE. QUANTITIES. OF. FOOD. Raw veggies, apples and pizza were on the lunch menu that day. Five pizzas. FIVE! My two boys have yet to hit that all-encompassing eating stage in their life, but when it comes, I know there isn't going to be a shopping cart big enough. Oy. 

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
Adapted from Good to the Grain,, by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood, by way of Orangette

1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant oatmeal, or quick cooking oatmeal)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 ¼ tsp. table salt, or to taste

Grease a large bowl and a loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups warm water, the yeast, and molasses. Stir briefly, and then allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. Add the flours, oats, and butter, and stir to mix. The dough will look rough and shaggy. Cover with a towel, and let stand for 30 minutes. Wait until the next step to add the salt! [This rest allows the dry ingredients to absorb the liquids, making for a dough that’s easy to work with and even-crumbed.]

Attach the bowl and the bread hook to the mixer. Add the salt, and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes. The dough should come together around the hook and slap around the sides of the bowl without sticking. If the dough is sticking, add a tablespoon or two of bread flour, sprinkling it down between the dough and the sides of the bowl. [Alternatively, you can knead by hand for about 15 minutes, adding flour as needed.] The dough should be soft and supple and slightly sticky.

For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the greased bowl, cover with a towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size. To see if it’s ready, gently push a floured finger into it. If the dough springs back, it needs more time; if the dimple remains, it’s ready for the next step.

To shape the dough, scrape it onto a floured work surface. Press down on it, working it into a square shape, taking care to depress any bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle. Next, bring the newly formed top and bottom edges together, pinching the seam to seal. Pinch the sides together, and roll the shaped dough back and forth, plumping it so that it’s evenly formed and about the size of your pan. Place the dough in the pan with the seam side down, and press it gently into the corners of the pan.

For the second rise, cover the dough with a towel, and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

When the dough has finished its second rise, bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top crust and bottom crusts are nicely browned. To see if the bread is ready, give the top of the loaf a thump with your hand. If it sounds hollow, it’s ready; if not, give it another few minutes in the oven. Remove the finished loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Resist the urge to cut in until it’s fully cooled, so that the crumb has time to set and the flavor can develop.

Note: This bread keeps beautifully at room temperature. Store in a plastic bag, though we often eat our bread so fast there's not much left to store. 

Yield: 1 loaf

First rise

One voluptuous loaf of bread in the making

Senan kneads from up high

No comments:

Post a Comment