Sunday, September 4, 2011

Honey Oatmeal Bread

In one month I will be "hearth breads and rolls" class in school (my first bread class) and I can hardly wait!

Ever since I learned how to make wheat bread from scratch with the Carlins in fifth grade I've been hooked.

Well, quite honestly my sister, mom, dad, aunts, etc. not only love bread but we all have a sweet tooth (hence the pastry chef was only a matter of time before one of us went over to the dark side.)

We've just touched the tip of the iceberg regarding bread at school thus far; mostly the composition of flour and how the proteins in flour combined with water form gluten and provide the structure for bread (give me a break, I'm a freshman remember).

However, I have discovered that making great artisanal bread at home is quite a different beast than making it in a bakeshop due to the sheer lack in proper equipment (i.e. no hearth)

I know that there are many methods out there for home bakers which I have yet to try and I'll certainly get around to testing those out in the coming months; I'm thinking about Chad Robertson's book Tartine Bread (a CIA grad of course!)

He and his wife have a fabulous bakery called Tartine in San Francisco.

Until then, I've been testing some of the options from my health food store favorites.

Bob's Red Mill creates a huge variety of products and this bread is not only easy and delicious but healthy for you too since it is made entirely of whole grain flour (which is why the vital wheat gluten is not omit or your bread will not rise properly.)

Honey Oatmeal Bread
Ever so slightly adapted from Bob's Red Mill

->4-1/2 to 4-3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
->2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
->2 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
->2 cups Milk
->1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Honey
->1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
->1 Tbsp Sea Salt
->1/2 cup Scottish Oatmeal

1. Combine 2 cups of the flour and salt; set aside.

2. Heat milk, honey, oil until just till warm (115 degrees). Add yeast t milk and make sure that it foams (to ensure that your yeast are alive) and then add to dry mixture in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds....stop, drop and scrap the sides of bowl. Then beat 3 minutes at high speed.

3. By hand, stir in oats, gluten and enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Here is where the workout begins...

4. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Keep turning your dough as you knead so that your gluten strands develop evenly. Shape in a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let rise in a warm, draft free place until double in size (it takes roughly 45 minutes).

6. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

7. Shape into two loaves; place in two greased 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" bread pans. Cover and let rise in warm place till doubled again (about 30 minutes).

8. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks to pull heat away from the pans and stop the bread from continuing to bake.

We are addicted to roasted chicken and we pretty much have one each week but since there are only two of us we always have left overs. Anyhow, I made the bread to be a vehicle for Agnes's Cilantro Almond Chicken Salad (I interned with Agnes...she's the best! we use lots of her recipes in our household) ; you can find the recipe here! However, those of you who know Dan know that cilantro isn't Dan's favorite herb, so I mellow it out a bit by replacing about 1/3 of the cilantro in the recipe with flat leaf Italian parsley.