Friday, November 6, 2009

Last Oatmeal Bread

There has been an interruption in my posting and I apologize. We had a death in the family and I spent the first couple of weeks and weekends in November going back and forth to Mississippi where my family lives.

I made the last oatmeal bread on Halloween weekend, uploaded the pictures and then went to Mississippi and never posted the recipe. The recipe came from the Bread Cook Book from Better Homes and Gardens. My edition was published in 1963.

Here are the ingredients:

2 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats,
1/2 cup light molasses
1/3 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 T salt
6 - 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 beaten eggs

While the yeast is softening in warm water, I put the other ingredients up to the flour in a mixing bowl and allowed it to cool.

Then I added 2 cups of the flour, followed by the eggs and the softened yeast. After kneading, the picture below is what the dough looked like.

It was quite happy to rise well in a relatively short time for an egg bread.

While the bread was rising, I greased the loaf pans - I used three 8X3.5 pans - and sprinled them on the bottom and side with extra oatmeal. Then the loaves rose in the loaf pans.

I let it rise a little long so the loaves were tall when they went into the oven! The oven temp was 375 for 40 minutes. I was supposed to use egg white and water to brush the loaves and then to sprinkle them with oatmeal, but I forgot.

The finished loaf was a little lop-sided but delicious.

Since my November did not go as planned, I'm not baking a type of bread this month. Instead I am baking holiday breads from now (the middle of November) until the end of the year. I had planned to bake rolls in November but I'll save that experiment for 2010.

I'll thaw and comparison taste the oatmeal breads tomorrow.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oatmeal Bread from Dolores Casella

In the mountains over the weekend, I made the oatmeal bread in one of my favorite old bread-baking cookbooks: A World of Breads by Dolores Casella. This recipe is designed to make three loaves of bread.

Here are the ingredients:

1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 cups boiling skim milk
2 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 T salt
10 - 11 cups bread flour

This bread tasted great, but I am sorry I made it because it is such a large recipe that it overwhelmed my mixer in the mountains. The dough crawled up during the mixing process and gunked up the top of the mixer. It really made a mess and I finished making the bread by hand.

First the milk, oatmeal and butter go together and sit for 30 minutes to cool. Then you mix in the yeast, and the rest of the ingredients. Obviously you add the flour gradually - and you might have the same fun I had with the mixer!

My daughter says that she doesn't bake because making bread is its own unique version of making glue! That's how the mixer cleanup seemed to me....

Here's the bread rising before I divided it into three loaves.

Here are the three loaves rising. I didn't have 3 nine inch pans at the mountain house so I used two 8 1/2 inch pans and one nine inch one.

The bread bakes at 400 degrees for 40 - 50 minutes. I set the timer for 45 and regretted it. I was knitting and didn't get up to check it and the tops got too dark in my oven. I'm used to myThermador at home that is well-calibrated. I believe the mountain oven runs hot.

At any rate, I wished I had checked at 40 minutes - really they were probably done at 35.

The slices were pretty and tasted really good with the molasses in the recipe.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oatmeal Bread from Martha Shulman

The bread I chose today took the entire day to make. The cookbook it is from is Great Breads by Martha Rose Shulman....very expensive now, but the one I own is paperback and I've had it since 1995 - bought for $19.95 - isn't that funny - $19.95 in 1995.

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup rolled/flaked oatmeal (I used McCann's)
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 T active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 T honey (from my bees)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (for both of these I used King Arthur's flour)

1/4 cup canola oil
1 T salt
2 -3 cups whole wheat flour

1 egg beaten with 2 T water
1 T sesame seeds

To make the sponge, I boiled water and poured it over the oatmeal when I first got up and left it all morning. When I returned about four hours later, I softened the yeast in the warm water and added it to the oatmeal and its liquid, along with the honey. Then I stirred in the white and whole wheat flours.

I left this sponge for an hour or so until it was bubbly. Shulman, who references a mixer and a dough hook in other recipes, says to make this one by hand. I did not - but used the mixer throughout.

Once the mix was bubbly (sorry - couldn't upload the picture), then you make the dough by adding the oil and the salt. Then I used mostly the dough hook to stir in the rest of the flour. I used all three cups of whole wheat flour and was midway through the fourth cup, when I decided to use a little unbleached flour as well. Even at that and after kneading with the dough hook for 10 minutes, the dough was still quite sticky.

(Note: Blogger just couldn't seem to upload in the correct orientation tonight - I'll try to edit later).

Perhaps it was because I used the mixer and not a wooden spoon?

I used unbleached flour on the counter for the end of the knead and left it to rise in a greased straight sided container for about 1 1/2 hours. Then I punched it down and let it rise again for about an hour. This is recommended in the recipe. Shulman says the resulting bread without the second rise will be a bit denser than if it had been given the second rise.

Then I shaped it into loaves and put the two loaves into two greased pans. I used the egg wash to brush over both loaves and then sprinkled them with sesame seed. They rose for about 45 minutes before baking in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes. I had already thrown out the egg wash, but for a tiny bit. The recipe says to brush the loaves with the egg wash about half way through baking, so I used the little bit to do that.

Even saved to disk, the picture would not upload in the correct orientation - I'm sorry you have to look at it sideways!

These loaves are beautiful but too hot to cut tonight. I'll report on the taste tomorrow.

Tastes delicious - light for a predominantly whole wheat bread. I really like this bread recipe and will make it again in spite of the day long effort.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oatmeal Graham Bread from Hensperger

I was out of town over the weekend and didn't get home until late Monday so I baked my October oatmeal weekend bread on Tuesday. I picked Beth Hensperger's Oatmeal Graham bread from her wonderful book: Bread for All Seasons.

I love this cookbook and this bread appears in the February section. Personally I think it's perfect for fall as well.

Here is the ingredient list:

2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats (I always use McCann's)
1/2 cup honey (my own from my bees)
4 T butter - she calls for unsalted - I didn't have any and used salted
1 1/2 T active dry yeast
pinch of sugar (I used a dip of honey on a tiny whisk)
1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups graham or whole wheat flour
2 2/1 - 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
extra rolled oats for sprinkling
1 egg yolk
2 T sesame seeds

As in many oatmeal breads, first you boil the water and pour it over the oatmeal, honey and butter. This has to cool in order not to kill the yeast in the third step.

Meanwhile you soften the yeast in the water. I stir the yeast with a whisk dipped in honey and then leave the whisk in the mix as the yeast begins to work.

Now that the oatmeal mix is cool and the yeast is up and running, you pour the yeast into the oatmeal in the mixing bowl. Add salt, whole wheat flour (I always use King Arthur's) and a cup of the unbleached flour. You beat this together well - about a minute.

Then you add the rest of the unbleached flour, 1/2 cup at a time. I switch to the bread hook after the mixture gets pretty stiff. Knead first by machine and then some on the counter before leaving it to rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

When the bread has risen, divide the dough in half and shape it into two loaves. Grease the baking pans and sprinkle oatmeal all over the bottom and sides.

Before baking in a 375 oven, brush the tops of the loaves gently with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with 1 T sesame seed per loaf.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes and then cool on racks.

This is a beautiful and absolutely delicious bread. It is soft and honey-nutty tasting.

The crumb is pretty and the bread crust is tender. So far this is my favorite of the oatmeal breads. It would do well for sandwiches (tried it at lunch today) or as breakfast toast.
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Steel Cut Oatmeal Bread

My book club is meeting at my house on Tuesday. We read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout. I really liked the book, but the woman it was about is a sort of tall, raw-boned woman and when she serves food, it's pretty simple - applesauce, baked beans.

We usually try to have food that fits the book. I have baked beans in the oven now. I also thought I'd serve pimento cheese sandwiches. Oatmeal bread is great for pimento cheese. I have a loaf from yesterday, but that isn't enough for the book club, so I made a different oatmeal bread today.

Today I made the oatmeal bread from King Arthur Flour's 200th Anniversary Cookbook. The recipe called for either steel cut oats or oatmeal and since I used oatmeal yesterday, I used steel cut oats today.

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled or steel-cut oats
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter (4 T)
1 T salt

1 T active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp honey
2 cups WW flour
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour.

First you mix the oatmeal mix (the first five ingredients) and let them cool to room temperature.

Then you soften the yeast in the warm water with the teaspoon of honey. When it is bubbling, you add all the rest of the ingredients. I didn't have any whole wheat flour so I used all unbleached flour. Of course, you add the flour gradually and end up kneading the mix with the dough hook.

Here are the steel cut oats, the butter and the salt, waiting for the honey and the boiling water!

After the first rise, you shape the dough into two loaves (8 1/2" X 4 1/2 " pan) and let the loaves rise about 45 minutes. Then you put the loaves into a cold oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees for 15 minutes. By the end of the 15 minutes, my oven read 375 and wasn't up to 400, but you are then supposed to turn the oven down to 350 for 25 more minutes. So I did.

Here are the two beautiful loaves - and I wish you could smell them - they smell like the honey from my beehives. The little knobby steel cut oats add a nice texture to this bread. Can't wait for the pimento cheese sandwiches!

I LOVE this bread. The slices feel substantial - good for sandwich making - and the crunch of the steel cut oats is such an interesting addition.

Note: This bread makes good toast, but gets a little gummy when used for sandwiches. I used it for pimento cheese for my book club and it absorbed the pimento cheese in such a way that I found it unappealing.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The First Oatmeal Bread - Oatmeal-Potato Bread from Beth Hensperger

I believe that I own four of Beth Hensperger's books on bread baking. I decided to start the oatmeal breads for October with her oatmeal potato bread from The Bread Bible. I've made the bread many times before and wanted it to be a part of the oatmeal comparison because it is a never-fail, always delicious bread.

Since I began this blog, I have worried about whether it's OK to post recipes that I get from cookbooks. Today I searched and found an article on that leads me to believe that it's OK to post the ingredients but not the words from the cookbook as regards the action taken in to create the recipe.

In this article, the author says: "According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a list of ingredients isn't protected by copyright law, but the instructions and any other "substantial literary expression" that go with it may be."

So here are the ingredients:

1 potato, approximately 6 ounces (I use a baking potato and didn't weigh it - but I imagine it was a little more than 6 ounces)
2 T unsalted butter
1 T active dry yeast
1 T sugar
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 T salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I always use McCann's - the best)
5 1/2 - 6 cups unbleached flour
a little bit of rolled oats to coat baking pans

The recipe calls for softening the yeast in warm potato water with a little sugar. I usually use honey instead, and did in this recipe. I used honey from my bees and a tiny whisk, dipping the whisk in the honey and then using it to stir the yeast into the warm water.

I am interested in how delicious most breads made with potato water are. I searched the web to figure this out. Sometimes the potato water is used as a substitute for using milk, but in this recipe, both are used.

I cooked the potato, cut into chunks but not peeled, in water to cover for about 20 minutes. Then I ran the potato without peeling it through my ricer and then stirred in the butter. The peels stay in the ricer and it's much easier than peeling the chunks.

Then you combine the potato, the yeast, the sugar, the milk, the salt, the oatmeal, and 2 cups of flour. Whe you beat this together, the dough looks pretty shaggy. Then you gradually add flour until the dough is the right consistency.

Hensperger suggests that the dough be a little sticky because the oatmeal will continue to absorb moisture during the rising.

After the dough has been kneaded and rises in a bowl, you shape it into two loaves. I sprinkled oatmeal on the bottom of the 9 X 4 pan as the recipe suggests, but I think it would have been even prettier in the end if I had sprinkled the oatmeal on the greased sides of the pan as well.

The bread rose beautifully.

Then I baked it in my oven with the baking stone for 10 minutes at 425 and then for 35 minutes at 350. It turned out just perfectly.

I tasted it and loved the salty, potato taste of the slice. The crust is nice - chewy but not tough. I thought the bread was a perfect oatmeal bread.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

White Bread Comparison of Recipes

The time has come to compare the September white breads. I got all the breads out of the freezer and allowed them to come to room temperature. Then I tasted each one.

I decided that my comparison would be on crust, taste and texture.

1. White Mountain Bread: The Bread Bible

  • Crust: Soft and easy to bite
  • Taste: Slightly salty taste
  • Texture: Funny - tore not in half but in a curve. The crumb was nice and had some openness to it.

2. Basic White Bread II: The Book of Bread

  • Crust: Has character but is easy to bite through. It is a little chewy compared to the first one.
  • Taste: Nice full taste, a little sweet and really smells of the honey that is in it.
  • Texture: The slice feels moist and substantial. However, this one had huge air holes between the bread and the crust - probably because I let the loaves rise too long.
3. Sands Basic White Bread: The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook

  • Crust: A little tough and chewy. The crust has a lot of body and complements the bread taste
  • Taste: A sour-ish flavor with a bit of salt. Tastes like it would make great sandwiches
  • Texture; Moist, even crumb
4. White Bread: Variation I: The Bread Baker's Apprentice

  • Crust: Most substantial so far but not as tasty as the King Arthur crust
  • Taste: Somewhat ordinary taste but wouldn't compete with anything that was on it. Slightly sweet - uses sugar rather than honey
  • Texture: Prettiest crumb of all the recipes - tiny holes, nice feel, crust and bread married very well
5. Basic White Bread: Sunset Cookbook of Breads

  • Crust: Tough, kind of crackles as you chew through it, not very tasty--has a burnt toast feel and flavor to it.
  • Taste: Almost no taste - more like store-bought sandwich bread
  • Texture: Almost as pretty as the Reinhart bread. Tiny air holes and a feeling of good holding together in the slice.
So now I have to decide my favorite. The Jones' recipe for Basic White Bread II was my very favorite.

I think I like sweeter white breads and this one smelled of the honey in it. This recipe called for 4 T of honey - 1 T more than the other recipes. It was the most moist of the breads and felt good in my mouth.

I also really liked the feel of the crust. I didn't feel disappointed because of the air hole in the crust - I am quite sure that was not the recipe but was rather due to baker error - my leaving the loaf out rising for too long while I hiked a trail!

For sandwiches, I liked the Reinhart (Bread Baker's Apprentice) bread the best. The tiny air holes in the crumb and the feel of the bread were very good. It called for 3 1/4 T of sugar. I think if I had used honey rather than sugar, this one would have been my favorite overall. I also liked the ease of using instant yeast in this bread which none of the other recipes did.

I am very disappointed in the Sunset bread - it really brought nothing new to the table. The King Arthur bread was good, but the crust is what made me put it aside. I liked the taste of it but didn't like the feel of the crust.

Except for the Sunset recipe, I would make all of these recipes again, but I'll give 4 stars to the Book of Bread for their great white bread recipe.

So tomorrow begins the first weekend in October. This month I am baking oatmeal breads. Oatmeal seems like a great way to go into the cool fall.

Although Reinhart doesn't offer an oatmeal bread, I have found five recipes that I will use for my October comparison.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Last White Bread for September

I decided to make the last white bread in the series from one of my very first bread baking cookbooks: the 1973 edition of the Sunset Cook Book of Breads. I still use this cookbook a lot, as evidenced by the worn picture of it below. This weekend I baked the white bread recipe from it as well as two loaves of sourdough by the recipe in this cookbook.

Sunset was always good about pictures and this recipe is no exception. You can see in the scans below how well they demonstrate by use of pictures.

The finished bread had a rather chewy, tough crust compared to the other breads, but tastes great. The crumb is nice - helped by the milk in the dough.

In the next couple of days I'll compare the five loaves of white bread I baked this month and pick a favorite.
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