As you and I and everyone knows,
You and I and everyone knows
How oats and beans and barley grows
(For those of you on my regular friends list, this is a public post, which is why some information you already know will be repeated or consolidated.)
It is October! Deliciously crisp, autumn's-nearly-here, jacket-in-the-morning-sun-in-the-
afternoon October. As many of you already know, I have been baking bread on the weekend and freezing it so that we can have fresh bread during the week while I'm working and today, Monday, is bread-making day here at the house on the edge of the park. Now, ordinarily I make a combination of breads, often a hearty brown bread with lots of seeds because we like that at my house, but over the past few days, I've been thinking about autumn and about autumn foods and what things make me feel good and happy and pleased that my favourite season is coming around again, short as it might be. Saturday at Sainsbury's, we found Apple and Blackberry OatSoSimple on sale for two for £2, mostly for my son, and I started thinking about one of my favourite comfort foods ever: good, old fashioned oatmeal. Hooray, for oats.
I recalled having skimmed the King Arthur Flour
homepage a few weeks ago, looking for something interesting of which I have no memory now, probably a substitution or a fragment of a recipe that escaped me, or maybe I was just looking for publication information on their cookbook to send to someone-- but I came across an oatmeal bread recipe, and I thought, hm, wouldnt' that be a nice bread to make in the Harper's kitchen sometime, eventually, maybe?
Well, in the words of my old friend JD, who used to phone and leave messages that said, "I'll get back to you later," then call again eight or nine months or maybe even a year later and say, "Hey, it's later!" Hey, it's later.
It's time to make oatmeal bread. Now, I've never made an oatmeal bread before, although I've enjoyed them when other people have made them, and I remember thinking they were a pleasant change from other garden-variety store breads I used to buy back when I had all sorts of reasons for not baking my own bread all the time (like, I kid you not, "Well, it's just harder to slice homebaked bread and it's difficult to make sandwiches out of!" --ha! What did I know?). So I thought, that as a sort of experiment, I'd present a few recipes here, all of them from the King Arthur company (though I'm sure there are many other fine oatmeal bread recipes out there), run down an ingredients list of what I have on-hand in my head, and do what I usually do: that is, come up with a variety of oatmeal bread that bears only a little bit of resemblance to the things I'm seeing on this recipe page. Then, I'll spend a goodly portion of the day baking, even though I won't have to do any work at all for most of it, since the beauty of breadmaking is that most of it is done by the yeast, while the baker, um, knits! Yeah: I have a hat to finish, don't I? And of course the umpteen pairs of socks that are backed up, but we'll talk about knitting another day.
So here are some oatmeal bread recipes, three of them, each under its own cut tag, each with some editorial remarks broken out, in case you don't want to bother with reading the actual recipes. I left in the bread machine instructions, in case those of you with bread machines are interested in making tihs in your machines, although those will be cut out of the oatmeal bread recipe I eventually put into my Squishy
to have onhand for baking wherever I go.( Oatmeal and Brown Sugar Toasting Bread )
This is the simplest of these recipes, and I'll probably go with something very similar to it, although I suspect I want to add some honey, since honey and oats just go so well together. The downside to following this recipe is that I do not have steel-cut oats in the house. I suspect they are for texture, since the only difference between steel-cut and rolled oats is the fact that rolled oats have apparently been steamed, and steel-cut oats take longer to cook. The recipe calls for less of the steel-cut oats, so I am betting the oaty flavour will come mostly from the rolled oats, and the steel-cut ones are there to make people go, "Hey, there are real live oats
in this bread, Harper!" Which, you know, they might do anyway. Right. Next recipe. ( Oatmeal Sandwich Bread )
If you're curious, Lora Brody Dough Enhancer is a dough conditioner. It's a combination of gluten, ascorbic acid, and malt. Basically, it keeps baked goods from going stale, and people say that if you use it with heavy ingredients (like honey, oats, brown sugar, various kinds of sweetmeats), it helps bread dough rise better and improves the texture. I have never used a bread dough enhancer, and I'm only using what's on-hand in my kitchen for this bread, so Lora Brody doesn't make it onto my personal ingredient list today. She might never, to tell you the truth. This recipe calls for ground oats, and I don't have a grinder (other than a hand-operated coffee grinder, which I am not about
to put oats into, thankyouverymuch!), so I'd have to coarse-grind half a cup of oats manually with a mortar and pestle. It does, however, call for honey, so maybe I'll use the honey measurement out of it and see where the flour measurements are different to produce the Harper Oatmeal Bread.( Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread )
Granular lecithin? Sounds like something big bakeries put in bread to make their ingredients lists longer.... Ugh. It's a moistener/preservative of some kind? Ew. It's apparently used in some diet foods as well. I think I'll pass, unless someone who comments would like to clue me in on the wondrous benefits of something with such an unfortunate name? And again with the dough enhancer. This recipe also calls for molasses or dark corn syrup, neither of which I have (and it's hard to get corn syrup in the UK, at least as far as I know).
So here's what I know from reading these recipes. When you bake with oats, people mostly use boiling water, which doesn't surprise me. Doing all these things doesn't leave any yeast-proofing space, which makes me a wee bit nervous, though I suppose I could cut down on the amount of water in the boiling water mixture and proof yeast in another bowl. I'm always a little nervous when a bread recipe tells me to add yeast along with things like salt or powdered milk, so I'm going to go mostly with the second recipe, since that one doesn't call for boiling water. In the future, I should probably try it with the boiling water, just to see if it changes things and if so how. Probably I'll just make a substitution with some of the brown sugar for the honey in recipe number one, and we'll be good to go. Oh, and that milk will want to be room temperature or near it, so better go do that before we start anything else. I'll set out the ingredients while I'm doing that. You don't have to worry about that thing: just wait here and I'll take care of all the preparation. Also, I'm very likely to make a double batch, since the yield for this recipe is only one loaf. It's something like 11:00 now, and I don't expect it to take too long to put it all together.
A little more than an hour later, the bread is rising. Aside from forgetting the milk and having to put it in later, I think everything went all right. I ended up using the mortar and pestle to grind a cup of oats (remember, I'm doubling this recipe) after all; it wasn't that much extra work. In an hour and a half, we'll see what has happened with the bread dough. It took a little longer to get things together than usual because I had a few interruptions, and while grinding the oats didn't take much
extra time, it did take a little extra time.