Saturday, 5 January 2013

Oat Bread

 This is a fine grained oat bread, which is easy to make and quite delicious.

 6 cups all purpose flour
2 cups large flake oatmeal

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsn honey
2  tsp yeast or one packet – regular rising yeast
2 tbsn plus 2 tsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups water – more or less

Proof yeast in small bowl with 1 tbsn honey and about 1/2 cup warm water. If the yeast is active, it should be bubbly and ready to use in about 10 minutes. Meantime, mix flour, oats, salt in a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the honey and 1/4 cup oil. When yeast is ready, add yeast and 1 cup warm water. Start mixing, adding second cup of water. Slowly add the last 1/2 cup of water while mixing. The flour mixture will pull together to make a dough, kneading until smooth and elastic.
Oil large bowl with remaining 2 tsp oil. Place dough in oiled bowl, rolling it around until the entire surface of the dough is lightly covered in oil. Cover with plastic wrap, foil, parchment etc and let dough rise in a warm place, for approximately 2 hours or until doubled.

Punch dough down to remove large air bubbles, shape into 2 loaves and place in oiled pans. Allow to rise until almost doubled. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 35 - 40 minutes or until the loaves are nicely browned, hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.   A  cooking thermometer should read about 94 °C or 200° F

You can easily switch out 2 or 3 cups of all purpose flour for whole wheat.  You might need to add a little more or less water though, depending on the humidity and absorption of the flour.   Same with additions like raisins.  You can add a cup or so to the dry ingredients, being aware once again that you might need to add a few more drops of water.

Bread is pretty flexible, at least this recipe is.   If it is too dry, knead in a tablespoon or two of water.  If it's too wet, knead in a tablespoon or two of flour. 

By the way, it's scaled to fit a 5 quart Kitchen Aid bowl - you know, just in case you have one and wish to use it.   It seems that two loaves like this fit nicely and I no longer need to make 6 or more loaves at a time.

I highly recommend the cooking thermometer.  Sometimes bread can look done before it is.  Just tip the bread over and pop the thermometer part way in the middle.  If it's not done, put it back in the oven for a few minutes.  If it is internally done but not browned nicely, put it back in anyway as it won't do it any harm to cook it a little more.

And yes, I know that 1 packet of yeast is slightly more than 2 tsp yeast.  Believe me, it won't make a difference.  

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