30 September 2010

Celeste's Sunflower-Oatmeal Bread

First slices in the toaster already!

I have found another bread that I will be working to perfect over time ... this bread is so delicious that last evening Silent Bob and I had it toasted with butter and honey for our dessert. Perhaps you think this weird, but you must understand that I have never been known as a good baker of breads. I have only three or four breads that I consider truly good when they come out of my oven. When I find a new bread that meets Silent Bob's standard, I snap to attention.

This bread recipe came from Kate's book, The Bread Bible  that I checked out last summer when I was visiting her. The book is a real treasure that anyone who is serious about learning to bake bread will consider an incredible resource!  Back to the recipe, though ...  it has been resting in my pile of  'must-do' recipes and yesterday was my lucky day ... I needed bread for toast.

Isn't this dough pretty with its seeds and oatmeal embedded so nicely in the dough?

This recipe makes a mildly sweet bread that has a soft sponge and a moderately crisp crust. The dough is light and quite sticky, initially. As you knead it, you gradually work in more flour, added in very small amounts until you have a dough that comes away from the kneading surface. The dough is still soft and very pliant.  After the first rising, it is divided into three rounds and set to rise again.

Reminds me of Goldilocks ... too big, too small, just right.

As I baked the bread, I was wishing for a large wood-fired oven in which I could bake all three at the same time. Instead, I had to jockey two of them between upper and lower shelves for even baking in my small wall oven. I think I tended to over brown the top crust by doing it this way and in the future, I think I will bake one loaf at a time and leave the others in the fridge to slow extra rising. Any thoughts on that strategy?

The instructions stressed that this soft loaf be allowed to cool completely before slicing and I do understand the why ... it is a soft loaf. You need a good sharp bread knife and a light sawing motion to cut the slices without collapsing the sponge of the bread. I am thinking that the next time I make the bread, I will divide it into small loaves and bake it in loaf pans so that the crust comes up around the shape of the loaf and makes slicing easier (and fitting it in my toaster easier, too). Certainly some of the romance of the earthy round loaf thing will be sacrificed, but I think the overall handling and toasting issues will be solved in that way. Just passing this on, in case you make the bread for toasting.

Do make the bread, though!


  1. looks so golden and delicious! I too suffer from small oven syndrome and dream of one day having a large range cooker, or a giant wood burner!

  2. That IS a gorgeous loaf of bread! I love when you work on a recipe over time until it is at it's best!

  3. Sprout Sara1/10/10 9:15 AM

    What if you made them into small "rolls" that you could just pop back in the oven to warm? Or those tiny loaf pans that people use for making gift breads during the holidays. That would be what I would do, because I can never seem to finish bread before it goes bad. I need an eating partner I guess... maybe I should work on that. :)

  4. Susan @ Sara1/10/10 10:20 AM

    Sara ... an excellent idea! I have two packages in the closet that I bought after Christmas for this Christmas' baking projects!


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