Monday, February 08, 2010

Oatmeal Toasting Bread

Two kinds of oatmeal in one bread = heaven.
This recipe has turned out moist and hearty loaves with a delectable chew. The first attempt last week was an easy and fairly quick success, resulting in my eagerness to make another two loaves this week.
It is another new family favorite from A Year in Bread's Friday Favorites.

Anne's Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Makes 1 two-pound loaf or 2 small one-pound loaves

This bread is both hearty and light. More than just a simple vehicle for jam, it could almost be a complete meal. If you omit the vital wheat gluten, it will be tasty but will crumble all over your toaster. [Editor's note: Gluten is the mix of proteins in flour that provides the structure and texture of bread. It does this by forming long strands as you knead the dough. Because there is a substantial quantity of oats—which do not contain gluten—in this recipe, adding some vital wheat gluten helps this bread hold its shape. Look for vital wheat gluten—also sometimes called gluten flour—in the bulk section of natural foods stores.]

To make fresh 'porridge':
Bring 1½ cups (12 oz.) water to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup (3 oz.) steel-cut oats. Simmer on low, covered, for about 25 minutes.

For the bread:
1½ cups / 5 oz leftover steel-cut oatmeal, room temperature
4 Tablespoons / 2 oz unsalted butter
1/4 cup / 2 oz light brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons / .25 oz salt
1 cup / 3.65 oz raw old-fashioned (not quick) rolled oats
1/4 cup / 1.2 oz oat bran
2 cups / 10 oz bread flour
1/4 cup / 1.2 oz nonfat dry milk (If you prefer to make your porridge with milk, omit this.)
2 Tablespoons / .5 oz vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons / .25 oz instant yeast

1. Melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar and salt. Stir this into the leftover porridge.

2. Put the rolled oats, oat bran, bread flour, dry milk, vital wheat gluten, and yeast in a large bowl.

3. Stir in the porridge mixture.

4. Knead by machine or hand for about 10 minutes. This is a very sticky dough. You may need to add more flour so that you can move from sticky towards tacky, which is desirable.

5. Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl. Cover with a cloth, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.

6. Flour a work surface. Gently flour the dough and fold over about four times. Dust with flour if the dough is sticking to your hands. (If making multiple loaves, divide the dough now into equal pieces.)

7. Fold the dough in half, pinch the seam, and gently roll into a loaf shape the length of your pan. The dough will be stiff. If needed, pinch the seam with moistened fingers.

8. Place in greased loaf pans. You want the ends of the loaf to touch the short ends of your pan (so it will rise evenly.)

9. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and a towel. Let dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

10. Dust the top with oat bran, if you like.

11. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes.

—To double the recipe and make 2 loaves, start with: 3 cups water and 1 cups uncooked oats. This will result in 3 cups of cooked oatmeal, which is your goal.

—If you've made fresh oatmeal, go ahead and stir the butter, brown sugar, and salt into it. Cool your oatmeal down to below 120°F, before proceeding with the recipe.

—This bread freezes well. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator to retain moisture.

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