‘Tis the season. For babies. Almost.
This last month has been a veritable flurry of baby showers, maternity leave sub plans, nursery preparations, and of course some hard-core nesting…which deep down inside my Type A(nal) soul really loves.
Maybe it’s some ancient mothering instincts settling in to stay, but despite the time spent opening gifts and cleaning the back corners of my cabinets, I’ve been on a serious bread-making bender. And it started at Easter. We hosted Easter dinner at our house this year, which was a first. I successfully made my first ham (give me credit, large meats intimidate me), as well as the most fantastic asparagus side your spring taste buds can imagine. And my mother-in-law brought homemade bread.
Grandma bread…passed down from her mom.
It was delicious, slathered in butter alongside our Easter dinner: Soft. Moist. Just slightly sweet. So imagine my amazement when I found it to be even better going down as toast the next morning, with strawberry jam added to the mix.
I won’t say this is an official 2012 Perfect Wheat Bread Attempt because this is not a great pile-it-on sandwich bread. But it’s a pretty amazing bread that yields a ton for your bread-making efforts: I got 2 loaves and 8 biscuits out of the dough.. Made with whole wheat flour and oatmeal, you’ll get your fill of whole grains, and a touch of molasses gives this bread the perfect kick of sweetness. And I’m telling you straight-up: this is the best toast you’ll have. Ever.
Spring is here and may be busy for you, whether you’re deep cleaning your windows or out at the park with your kids. But take the next rainy Saturday you have and give this bread a little time to rise…you’ll be eating fresh bread all week, with an entire loaf or more in the freezer for next week.
(yields 2 mega-loaves + a few buns OR about 60 buns)
(recipe adapted from my mother-in-law and grandma-in-law)
I adapted this recipe in just a few ways from how my mother-in-law made it. I used mostly whole wheat flour instead of all white. Obviously, I got a denser bread than when she made it, but not too dense by any means. In addition, I used slightly less molasses than the 1/2 c. the recipe calls for the second time I made this. I felt like the molasses was slightly overpowering, so consider the "strength" of the molasses you're using when deciding how much to put in.
2 c. old-fashioned oats
4 c. boiling water
one 1/4 oz. packet active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. warm water
2 tbsp. butter
Approx. 10 cups flour (enough so that dough is not extremely sticky)
7 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. white flour*
*I was informed by my bread-expert friend Heidi that most whole wheat breads need some white flour to keep them from turning out like a cement block.
Pour boiling water over the oatmeal and let stand until cool.
Add remaining ingredients and knead for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
Cover with greased plastic wrap or a floured-towel and let rise in warm spot until double (about 80 mins).*
Punch down, re-cover, and let rise until doubled again (about 35 mins).
When it's doubled, put into greased 9x5" bread tins. Keep covered and let rise again (about 25 mins). [If making buns, shape into buns and place on a greased cookie sheet before final rise.]
Bake bread at 350* for 50-60 minutes.
Buns bake at 375* for 20 minutes.
I always let my bread rise on the top of my oven, heated to 230. Rising times included in the recipe will vary - these are just general guidelines.