Disclaimer: This is not a how-to post on baking bread, but rather the sharing of a favorite recipe.
Even though I don’t bake much these days, there are two bread recipes I will make for the rest of my life. My grandma’s recipe needs day-old mashed potatoes, and I don’t have any, so I opted for oatmeal bread; it isn’t hard to have all the ingredients on hand if you’ve got a reasonably stocked kitchen. My yeast is a bit old, so this is also an experiment in determining whether or not to toss it.
The first step releases a comforting aroma of cooked oatmeal as the boiling water melds the ingredients before the yeast and white flour are added. The recipe says to wait for this mixture to cool to room temp, but I like to just give it a slight rest and add a cup of white flour to expedite the process.
Bread kneading is fairly easy unless the dough is too sticky. I turn the dough onto the counter before I’ve finished mixing the fourth cup of flour which starts out looking like a mess, but I can start kneading with a lot of flour on my hands, so they are less likely to get sticky. The number one issue I saw with new bakers at the farm was the desire to knead with their fingers. Pushing with your palms, and only using your fingers to move the dough is my tried and true method.
After the kneading is though, the rest up to the dough. I use a heating pad to support a good rise. Without an activity to occupy me between rises, I thought about popping over to one of our two local breakfast spots, but the snow kept me in, and I bucked up and made my own creation out of leftover broccolini, onions, local butcher bacon and farm fresh eggs.
The bread recipe comes from the More With Less cookbook, which I need to explore more often. The goal of the collection is to bring a plethora of diverse dishes to the table without intensive instructions and expensive ingredients. This is the book for basic and budget cooking. Thanks, Bethlehem Farm, for introducing me to it!
After the dough has doubled (or so) in size, it’s time to shape loaves. My old yeast might not have the rise power it used to, but it did something!
Rolling out and shaping loaves is a matter of personal preference, but I like to make a rectangle, roll from the long end, fold in thirds, push down on the sides and tuck it neatly underneath.
Another hour of waiting for the second wise, 30-40 minutes in the oven, time to cool down, and then it is finally time to slap on a pat of butter. This is also the best bread for grilled cheeses. Enjoy!