Every once in awhile I need baking therapy and yeast bread is just the cure!
This one has been making appearances in my home for years - it's my daughter's favorite and yesterday it rewarded me, even though I took out my frustrations on it, with some soft, tender, slightly sweet, golden loaves that disappeared very quickly.
There's nothing like the smell of yeast...watching that dough rise high above the bowl and whoooooosh down when you touch it. The way it yields and molds to your touch and settles into a pan with a contented sigh, ready for it's warm nap.
The homey goodness that is represented in a loaf of homemade bread is precious and rare, these days.
Do your family a favor and give to them a labor of love!
(I have kneaded bread for years - I like to feel the dough, and know when it's ready to rest. But I've also got a big KitchenAid mixer and sometimes that is the way to go. Throw the ingredients in and mix for three minutes with the bread hook. PRACTICALLY INSTANT!!)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
Two 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast (the "quick rise" ones are wonderful)
Drizzle of honey
1/2 cup warm water (warmer than lukewarm, but not hot-hot)
3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
In a large bowl (or bowl of your big mixer) stir together the boiling water, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, molasses, honey, salt, and butter.
In a small bowl dissolve the yeast and drizzle of honey in the 1/2 cup of warm water. Let rest for one minute.
Mix the dissolved yeast and egg into the oatmeal mixture until well combined. Add one cup of flour and stir in until incorporated. Add another cup and repeat. Repeat for the third cup. At this point, if you aren't using a mixer, you will start kneading by hand.
Flour your hands and pull the dough to one side of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of flour to the bottom of the bowl and lay the dough on it. Bring up one side of the dough and fold it over, pushing down with the heel of your hand, hard.
Turn the bowl 1/4 turn and pull the top edge of the dough up and fold it over, pushing down with the heel of your hand. Continue doing this, adding flour as needed, until the dough is very elastic - about 6-10 minutes.
(If you do it in the mixer, add the three cups of flour and mix on medium until incorporated. Feel the dough. If it's very sticky, add the other 1/2 cup. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Dough will still be slightly sticky.)
Drizzle some oil into a big bowl. Gather the dough into a ball and roll in the oil, coating the surface. Place in a warm place, covered. (I turn on the oven just until the elements are red. Turn it off and place the bowl in there.) Let rise until doubled and very light.
Lightly grease two large loaf pans, or 4 mini pans. Set aside.
Punch the dough down, removing as much air as possible. Form into loaves and let rise until doubled again. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during this rising. Bake for 35-45 minutes for the big loaves, 25-30 minutes for the minis, or until golden brown.
Remove from pans to a wire rack and brush the tops with oil while still warm. Cool completely and store in plastic bags.
These are adorable little mini loaves...
just pretending to be bigger!