Sunday, August 13
I have been struggling over the past year to become a better bread-baker. I am trying to follow my mom's lead, and until this past weekend, I was beginning to think I hadn't inherited her gene for taming and transforming yeast. My breads always turned out leaden, never rising quite high enough.
My family sat down to dinner together every night, and many of those meals included homemade bread in some form. Two of our family favorites were my mom's soft white bread, swirled with cinnamon and sugar, and her oatmeal bread. I was always partial to the oatmeal bread, because although it was soft, it also had substance, and held up well to a good toasting, and topping of butter and plenty of jam.
I started to wonder if my trouble with bread didn't have something to do with my recipes, since I usually choose whole grain recipes, loaded with good things like nuts and fruits, so this time around, I chose an oatmeal bread as a benchmark, since I know in my mind what a good oatmeal bread should look and taste like. Now, I don't know if it was my recipes all along, if I'm finally getting the hang of it, or if my mom's bread lesson paid off last time I was home, but I do know that this Buckwheat and Honey Oatmeal Bread turned out wonderfully - rising to unprecedented heights, tasting slightly earthy and sweet from the grains, and boosting my confidence that I too, can make homemade bread a regular occurence in my house.
Buckwheat and Honey Oatmeal Bread
Makes 2 9x5 inch loaves
2 Tbsp (2 pkgs) Active dry yeast
1 tsp Honey
1 ⅓ cup Warm Water, (105 - 115 degrees)
1 cup Warm Milk , (105 - 115 degrees)
½ cup Honey
¼ cup Vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
1 Tbsp Salt
1 cup Buckwheat Flour
2 cups Rolled oats
4 ½ - 5 cups All-purpose flour
Extra rolled oats for sprinkling
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and the 1 tsp honey over 1/3 cup of the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl with a whisk, or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup warm water, the warm milk, the 1/2 cup honey, oil or butter, eggs, salt, buckwheat flour, and the 2 cups oats. Add the yeast mixture and beat hard until creamy, 2 minutes. Add the remaining unbleached flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl, switching to a wooden spoon as necessary if making by hand.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until firm yet still quite soft and springy, about 3 minutes, adding only 1 Tbsp flour at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. The dough will retain a nubby, tacky quality because of the whole-grain flour. Do not add too much flour, or the bread will by dry and hard. Place in a greased deep container, turn once to coat the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Turn out the dough onto the work surface. Divide into 3 equal portions and form into rectangular loaves. Place the loaves in 3 greased clay or metal 8 by 4 inch loaf pans that have been sprinkled on the bottom and sides with rolled oats. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake in the center of the oven until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, 40 - 45 minutes. Remove from the pans to racks to cool completely before baking.
I made 2 large loaves in 9 x 5 pans instead.