Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Loaf Straight From the Heart

"Bread so that your house may never know hunger."

House Blessing from It's A Wonderful LIfe

That is one of my favorite lines from It's a Wonderful Life. It is one line from an age old blessing for a new home. The full blessing is:
Bread! That this house may never know hunger.
Salt! That life may always have flavor.
Wine! That joy and prosperity may reign forever!
So, tonight is with great joy that I help my really good friend, Jenny of All Things Edible celebrate her new home

All Things Edible's House Warming

with a loaf of fantastic bread.

victoryoatmealbreadOatmeal Bread from VBoAWCB

Jenny is a bread freak. She loves to bake breads of any type and even has a sourdough starter named Marvin. I love to check in on her and Marvin and see what they are up to.

I made this bread on Sunday and it is just about the best bread I've ever made. The office agreed It is made from simple ingredients: steel cut oatmeal, molasses, yeast, salt and flour. The crumb is soft and tender. The crust is thick and chewy. The taste sweet without being overpowering. The oatmeal just melts away but leaves that nutty taste behind. This bread is fantastic on it's own, toasted with a little jam or great as a sandwich.

The recipe came from my Wartime Wednesday tome, The Victory Binding of American Woman Cook Book. The bread recipes from this cook book are rock solid. I'm not sure what the ladies knew back then, but they sure knew their yeast!

Jenny, may you and your family have joy, peace and security in your new home.

I'm also submitting this bread for Susan at Wild Yeast's weekly round up of all things yeast bread, Yeastspotting.

Note: I've been a fresh yeast kick lately. Working with fresh yeast versus active or instant yeast requires a bit more patience. You have to proof it first and it is a bit more temperamental than active or instant dry yeast. Rise times also typically are a bit longer than with the active or instant. But, I've also noticed that my breads seem to have a more delicate crumb and intense flavors.

Inside of Oatmeal Bread from VBoAWCB

Oatmeal Bread
adapted from the 1943 version of the Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book

Makes two (2) loaves

1 cup cooked rolled or steal cut oats (not quick cooking)
1 cake yeast (.6 oz cube) (If you don't have fresh yeast, substitute 1 package active or 2 tsp rapid rise)
1/2 cup luke warm water
1/3 cup molasses
pinch of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup KA white wheat flour or whole wheat flour

Cook oats per instructions, remove from heat and allow to cool completely and absorb any excess water. You want a big "glob" of oats.

Proof yeast in lukewarm water and pinch of sugar. Allow to sit for 5 - 10 minutes until foamy.

In bowl for stand mixer or large bowl, break up cooled oatmeal into medium chunks, and using the dough hook (if using stand mixer), stir in proofed yeast, molasses, salt, and melted butter until oatmeal is completely broken up.

Add in bread and wheat flour and stir until wet dough formed. Add in 1 1/2 cups AP flour until shaggy dough ball is formed. Add in remaining flour 1/2 cup a time until soft dough ball that cleans bowl if formed. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes to absorb excess flour. If using stand mixer, hand knead for 5 or 10 quick turns.

Dough should be soft and very slightly tacky. If clumps of dough stick to hand, knead in additional AP flour on palmfull at time.

Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise until double (about 2 - 2 1/2 hours). Punch down, form 2 loaves, place in 8 1/2 x 5 greased loaf pans, lightly grease top of loaves, loosely cover, and allow to rise until dough is about 1/4" above edge of loaf pans.

Slash top of loaves down center if desired.

Place loaves in preheated 350 degree oven and bake 30 - 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.