Today, I am starting with one of my favorite breads, Oatmeal Molasses. I make my breads by hand, so I will share with you the hand kneading directions.
2 1/3 cups (19 fl oz/580 ml) water
1 cup (3 oz/90 g) old-fashioned rolled oats, plus some extra for topping the loaves
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (3 1/2 oz/105 g) unsulfured molasses
2 packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast (You can also use Bread Machine Yeast)
5-6 cups (25-30 oz/780-940 g) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons sea salt
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Put the oats into a heatproof bowl, and pour the water over the oats. Add the butter and molasses, and let the mixture cool to warm (105-115F/40-46C).
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm oat mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 3 cups (15 oz/470 g) of the flour and the salt, mixing well. Add the remaining 2-3 cups (10-15 oz/315-470 g) flour as needed to make a soft dough. Using a plastic pastry scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface. Knead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting flour to keep the dough from sticking, 5-7 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour. (I place mine on top of my fridge.)
Butter two 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pans. Punch down the dough and, using the pastry scraper, scrape it out onto a clean work surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife or a bench scraper.
For each half, evenly flatten the dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the top third down onto itself and seal it by pushing it gently with the heel of your hand. Continue rolling and sealing the dough until you have an oval log. Place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared loaf pans. Press on them to flatten them evenly into the pans. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm, draft-free spot until they double in size, 45-60 minutes.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375F (190C). Mist the tops of the loaves with water. Sprinkle the tops with a generous handful of oats. (I have gotten to the point where I skip this step because it's just messy and doesn't add to the flavor of the bread.) Bake until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on top, 40-45 minutes. Carefully remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing.
I got this recipe from a book I borrowed from a friend. It is absolutely amazing and I want to buy it for myself. Not only are the recipes tasty, the pictures are delicious in themselves!
Essentials of Baking: Recipes and Techniques for Successful Home Baking. Williams Sonoma.
Here is a link to purchase the book on Amazon.
Making bread is relaxing for me. I relish in the fact that I cannot do anything else with my time while I'm kneading a new dough. I am a busy person, constantly multitasking and filling every moment with as much as I possibly can. Making bread for my family gives me time to slow down and just... be, if only for a few minutes. Knowing our bread is made with healthy ingredients is just an added bonus. This recipe makes two loaves, which we go through in about two to three weeks. Sometimes I find myself giving away loaves just so I can make more! It's healthy to have stress relievers, and this is mine.
If you have a yummy bread recipe you would like to share, I would love to try it! I have been trying to branch out a bit but I'm having a rough time finding recipes that a) can be made without a bread machine or standing mixer, or b) actually have a review to let me know whether they are good or not!