Friday, December 7, 2012

The Bread of Life....and a little extra.

Well friends, it's been a while since I posted....and I'm sorry. But as many of you know my father in law has come to live with us. He's been here for about 2 months now and all of our lives have changed.

One of the good thing that has happened is I am now making my world famous oat bread ....well...okay, maybe it isn't world famous, but I do get a lot of requests for it around here. My father in law is a dialysis patient and his diet is quite strict. Here's a short list of what he isn't supposed to have, or at least he's only allowed a very small amount of these things. Dairy, tomatoes, whole grains, nuts, fresh fruit and most citrus. So as you can see, it can be quite a challenge to cook for him. But I don't cook his food separate, what ever I make for him is what we eat also.

One of the foods that he does enjoy is my oat bread, so I make it 2 or 3 times a week. He likes the buns best, which is good because I weigh them out to one ounce rolls so I can keep track of his carbs, calories and other nutritional values. They are easy to pack in his lunch to take to dialysis along with some tuna or egg salad, some canned fruit and something to drink. He's happy and so am I.

Even though he isn't supposed to have whole grains, and oat meal is a whole grain, I make this bread for him anyhow. It only has one cup of oat meal and 7 or 8 cups of white flour, which he CAN have, so it's a good compromise. He gets something better than store bought white bread and I control what goes into it.

So if you like to make your own bread, or if you've never made bread before this is an easy bread to make. I hope you enjoy it. The recipe follows the post, if you don't want to read the post just scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.

First take one cup of old fashioned oat meal, not instant or quick oats, and put them into a large metal or glass bowl. Add some oil, honey and salt then pour boiling water over all this, give it a good stir and set it aside for half an hour.

After about half an hour, when the oat mixture is cool, sprinkle 2 packets or 4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast over one cup of very warm water. Let this sit for about 10 minutes to proof the yeast.

Add the yeast to the oat mixture and stir well. Next add about 3 cups of white all purpose flour to the oat mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. Continue adding flour and mixing until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and continue kneading the flour in until the dough feels like a baby's bottom....soft but slightly firm. I know that sounds strange, but so many people have asked me "how do you know when the dough is ready?" And all of you bread bakers know this is probably a pretty good analogy of how the dough should feel. Not super stiff, (too much flour) and not squishy soft (not enough flour). Anyhow if you add the flour about a quarter cup at a time you should be able to knead it in about 3 or 4 good songs on the radio, or about 10 minutes. What can I say, I like to knead to the beat of the music, it makes the time go by faster.

After you have finished kneading the bread, oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, give it a twist, turn it over and give it another twist. Now your entire ball of dough should be well oiled. Now cover the dough, in the bowl, with a clean lint free towel and place it in a warm draft free area until it is doubled in size. I use my oven with just the oven light on. It seems to be just warm enough and the dough rises quite nicely. The nice thing about this dough is if you get sidetracked and don't have time to mess with it when it raises, just punch it down again and do what you need to do. This dough can be punched down as many as 4 times before you have to put it in a baking pan. And the more you punch it down, the more sour it becomes so it picks up a slightly sourdough flavor.

Next punch the down the dough and weigh it, if you don't have a scale then just eyeball it into three pieces. I made two loaves and fifteen rolls, but you can do three loaves or about forty five rolls or any mix of the two. I usually make one loaf and thirty rolls, but I wanted to give someone a loaf so I made two loaves today.....Anyhow.....lightly grease your pans and then shape your dough into rolls or loaves and put them in the the pans and cover with your cloth. Put them back into the oven with just the light on until they double in size again.

Now remove your dough from the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake your buns or rolls for about fifteen to twenty minutes and loaves for about twenty five minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with butter if you like a soft crust or leave plain if you like a harder crust. Remove from the pans and brush with butter, or not, and let cool on racks before you put it away. I put mine in gallon storage bags.

The only thing left to do now is slice and slather with butter and honey and enjoy. That's all there is to it and even Squeek can enjoys a little bite every now and then.....isn't that right Squeek?

The Recipe:

Honey Oat Bread.

1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Pure Honey
2 Cups Boiling Water
1 Cup Warm Water
2 Packets or 4 1/2 Teaspoons Yeast
7 to 8 Cups All Purpose Flour

In a large metal or glass bowl combine the oats, oil, salt, honey and 2 cups of boiling water. Set aside for about 1/2 hour our until cooled.

Sprinkle yeast over the 1 cup of warm water and let it proof for about 10 minutes or until frothy. Add to oat mixture.

Stir in 3 cups of flour to the oat mixture and stir well, continue adding flour and mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and continue to knead in the flour until a soft but firm dough has formed. Continue to knead for a total of about 10 minutes.

Place the dough into a well oiled bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover and allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size.

Punch down and divide into three equal pieces. Make each piece into loaves or one ounce rolls and place into will greased pans. Let rise until doubled in size again.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Placed rolls and loaves on the center rack and bake until golden brown on top, or about 15 to 20 minutes for rolls and 25 to 30 minutes for loaves.

Remove from oven, brush with butter if desired, turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before storing in plastic storage bags.