Peasant Bread (flop)

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Some people say you are either a cook or a baker…I’m not sure if that is true for everyone, but it certainly is true for me.  Maybe it’s because I don’t like measuring things or following recipes–yes, that is probably it.  Regardless, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to pick up some baking skills.  I began with this bread.  I found the recipe in the Best of the Northwest cookbook.  The flavors of molasses, oatmeal and brown sugar sparked my interest.  However, it wasn’t sweet at all.  The bread came out so dense and virtually flavorless.  I used 100 percent whole wheat flour.  Perhaps it would have been better with half and half…or more molasses?  If you are confident in your baking skills, go ahead and try the recipe.  It might need a few alterations, but it definitely has potential!  I would love to hear it turn into a success story.

Makes 2 loaves:

  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats, plus more for pans
  • 6 to 7 cups whole wheat flour, or half whole wheat flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour.  Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of the lukewarm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Let it sit until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes, then stir to mix it well.  Add the remaining 1 2/3 cups water with the melted butter or oil, brown sugar, molasses, and salt; stir to mix.  Stir in the oats, followed by the flour, 1 cup at a time.  When the dough is firm, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and supple, about 10 minutes.  (I used my dough hook on my Kitchen Aid)  Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to evenly coat it in oil.  Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
    My pride and joy hard at work
    My pride and joy hard at work

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    Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and punch it down.  Grease two 5 by 9 inch loaf pans and sprinkle the insides sparingly with some oats.  Divide the dough in half and shape each into a cylinder that fits snugly in the pan.  Put the loaves in the pans, cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled and the loaf tops are rounded and smooth, about 1 hour.

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    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and continue baking until the loaves are browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer.  To check for doneness, tip one loaf carefully from the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf with your fingers; it should sound hollow.  Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool with a cloth over them to help keep the crust soft.

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