Oh, bread! I have had such a wonderful time this past winter finding my way around numerous bread recipes, figuring out the best temperatures for yeast solutions, working with some different flour combinations, getting a feel for a properly kneaded dough, and playing with different ways to manipulate the crusts of various breads. Yesterday, I made Silent Bob a three loaf batch of sunflower oatmeal bread.
Which leads me to a note on baking vessels. One of the best things that I have discovered about baking round and oval loaves is the beauty of using a baking bowl or casserole for the loaf. The vessel 'contains' the loaf as it completes its second rise, which makes for a perfectly formed loaf. Baking vessels also allow the risen loaf to maintain height and not flatten out like free-form loaves risen and baked on greased cookie sheets. I have used small and large pottery and ceramic bowls and casseroles for loaves with great results.
So ... about this particular loaf. It comes from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible. IMHO, this book is one of the finest references for all things bread in the world. Bar none. Back to the bread ... this is Celeste's Sunflower Oatmeal Bread. I stuck almost exclusively to the recipe. The only thing that I did was to decrease the whole wheat flour by 1/4 cup and substitute the same measure of wheat germ . I also increased the yeast measurement from 2 1/4 tsp. to 2 1/2 tsp. I used orange blossom honey ... just sayin' ... finally, I sprinkled the top of two of the loaves with flour, just because I wanted to make them pretty and a bit different. The bread is a soft loaf with a soft crust and a big glutinous crumb. The sunflower seeds distribute nicely throughout the dough and the honey and molasses give it a nice subtle sweetness. So good toasted and slathered with butter and jam!
Celeste’s Sunflower-Oatmeal Bread
Oven - 375º for about 40 min.
In a measuring cup:
1 ¼ c. warm water
1 package active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
In a small bowl, combine:
1 ¼ c. warm buttermilk
¼ c. honey
2 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. soft butter
In a large bread bowl, whisk together:
1 c. whole wheat flower (for more fiber, substitute 1/4 cup wheat germ for 1/4 c. of the flour)
1 c. rolled oats
¾ c. raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. salt
Add to the flour mix:
1 large egg, beaten
Beat hard for 3 minutes and then add ½ c. at a time:
4 to 5 c. unbleached flour
When the dough ‘clears’ the side of the bowl, remove to a kneading surface and continue working in the flour until the dough is smooth and springy. Knead for 5 minutes and add just 1 tbsp. flour at a time to knead it in slowly.
When dough is smooth and elastic, ball it up, clean the bread bowl and butter it, turn the dough into it and cover. Set aside in a warm place to rise (about 1 ½ hours).
Poke dough down gently. Turn to a floured surface and shape into three rounds. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes).
When loaves have risen, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with rolled oats. Press oats gently to adhere to loaves and bake until loaves sound hollow when rapped.
Transfer baked loaves to a rack to cool. Don’t slice until cooled.
This picture illustrates the difference between the loaf baked free form (up top) and the two baked in pottery baking vessels. Do what you will; I like more loft to my loaves so am a convert to the casseroles and bowls.
There's nothing romantic about toast and coffee, but it sure tastes good first thing in the morning! Here's hoping you have bread in your bread box!