Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oatmeal Bread

Someday, I hope to be able to grow enough wheat or oats (or both) to make this bread, but my grain crops are notoriously small. Another note, I make a full four servings of steel cut oats and reserve a cup of cooked oats for the bread (1 cup oats to 4 cups water simmered for 1/2 hour). It's easier to make the larger amount, and it's usually my Friday night supper with the bread to be baked Saturday morning.

1 cup cooked steel cut oats (also called "Irish Oats"*)- warm but not hot is best
1/4-cup warm water (about 110 degrees F or 42 degrees C)
1 tsp honey (or treacle)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

optional -
1 egg for glazing
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

Original Method:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes, it should become foamy. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. Add to the cooked oats and stir in 1 cup of the flour. The mixture will be very wet and sticky, but not quite a liquid. This is the starter. Let rise in a bowl covered with a clean cloth for 2 - 4 hours, allowing it to double in size.

To make the dough, sprinkle the salt onto the starter and start to incorporate the rest of the flour. (If you want the sunflower seeds add them in now) Dough will be very moist but more workable. Turn onto work table and knead for 7 minutes.

Cover the dough and let rise for an hour (until doubled) or put in the refrigerator overnight (up to 12 hours). Shape the loaf and place in a greased bread pan. Allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. If the dough has been refrigerated, this may take some extra time (even up to 2 hours depending on the ambient tempurature of where it is rising.)

Mix the egg with some water and glaze the top if you wish. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Bread Machine:

Layer in the ingredients as recommended by the manufacturer's instructions. My machine - liquids and porridge on the bottom, flour next, yeast and salt on top. I prefer to use the dough setting and then shape the loaf and bake in a normal oven, but using the bake setting on the machine works too. I use the 2lb white bread, medium crust setting on a Breadman Ultimate machine (with extras if I use the sunflower seeds).

*Rolled oats don't work for this recipe. I've tried and failed again and again. You have to use steel cut, made into porridge.

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