Friday, February 22, 2008

Honey-Oatmeal Bread

Oatmeal bread is one of my favorites, and this recipe, from Sarah Leah Chase's Cold Weather Cooking, is so good. You cook the oatmeal with water, butter, and honey, and then add it, once cooled, to a mixture of yeast and apple cider. The end result isn't sweet, but the flavors work perfectly together.

Honey-Oatmeal Bread
(based on the recipe in Cold Weather Cooking, by Sarah Leah Chase)

Makes 2 loaves

1 1/2 c dry oatmeal
2 c boiling water
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 c honey
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs active dry yeast
1/3 c warm apple cider
4-5 c unbleached flour

Optional topping:
1 egg
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs dry oatmeal

1. Place the oatmeal in a bowl and cover with the water. Add the butter and stir til melted. Add the honey and salt. Let cool.

2. In the meantime, dissolve the yeast in the warm apple cider in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled oatmeal mixture, then 2 c of the flour. Slowly work in enough of the 2-3 remaining cups of flour to make a smooth dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until silky smooth. Place in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two loaf pans.

4. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Knead briefly, then shape into loaves and place in the prepared pans. Cover the loaf pans with a kitchen towel and let the bread rise to the tops of the pans in a warm place, 30 min.

5. Beat the egg with the water and brush over the tops of the bread. Sprinkle each loaf with half of the dry oatmeal. Bake until golden and til a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean, about 40 min. Let cool in the pans 10 min. (no more than that, or the bottoms will get soggy), and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

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