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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oats and Whole Wheat Bread

The last month was filled with cooking a lot of Diwali sweets and snacks. I also made cakes for a couple of birthday parties. It was a great month. We ate a lot of great food and had fun with all the different celebrations. However, in the midst of all this activity, I just didn't get time to do any leisurely baking. I had been wanting to bake bread, but I just didn't get to it. I have been wanting to make some whole wheat breads, and I finally got to bake a loaf  last weekend. This is a recipe from the book "Whole Grain Baking" and the first one that I tried from it. Considering the success of this recipe, I am looking forward to trying the other bread recipes from this book. Since, all the recipes in this book include whole grains, they should be healthy as well.

This bread recipe contains whole wheat flour as well as rolled oats. It turns out very delicious and moist. A perfect sandwich bread.

1 and 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup old fashioned rolled oat (not the quick cooking ones)
2 tbps unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1.5 tsps salt
1/4 cup honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 and 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour/maida
1/4 cup milk powder
2 tsps instant yeast
some oil to grease the bowl and pan
1-1/2 tsp melted butter (optional)

Mix together the oats, salt, honey and butter and pour the boiling water and stir. Let the mixture cool to a lukewarm temperature. This will semi cook and soften the oats. Also, make sure that the temperature is lukewarm and you can easily dip your finger (clean) in the mixture and hold it for a minute without burning it. If it is not cool enough and you add the yeast, the yeast die.
Then add the flours, milk powder, yeast into this mixture and knead the dough. Knead well till the dough is soft and smooth. If you are doing this by hand then you will need about 10-15 minutes kneading time. Shape the dough into a ball.

To see step by step photographs of the process see the Whole Wheat Bread recipe.

Then, place this in a well oiled bowl and roll the dough in the bowl, so that the dough is lightly covered with oil. Then, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough rise till it has doubled in size. This will take about an hour to an hour and half, depending on the ambient temperature.

Then, deflate the dough and shape it into a log which can fit in your rectangular bread pan. Now cover this lightly with a plastic wrap and let the dough rise again till it has doubled in size, which will take another hour to hour and half.

Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the bread on the center rack in the oven for about 45 minutes.  After 20 minutes have passed, check and if you see that the top has lightly browned, then take a piece of aluminium foil (large enough to cover the pan), fold it in the center to create a crease, then  open it up and create a tent on top of the baking tin. Let the bread bake for the next 25 minutes, covered with foil.

Take the bread out of the oven and set to cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the tin. If you want, you can lightly brush the entire bread with some butter. This will help retain the moisture and keep it soft and moist.  Slice it as you go.

Yeast should never be added to hot water or hot mixtures, as that will kill the yeast. If you are not sure, add the yeast to room temperature ingredients. If the temperature in the room is very cold, it will take longer for the dough to rise. You can keep the dough in the oven, with its light on to provide the warmth for the yeast, so that the bread will rise. Else, add additional time to the rising process. The key to look for is, if the dough has doubled in size. Similarly, if the room temperature is really warm (think hot summer weather), then you may need just 45 mins or an hour for the dough to complete doubling in size. For photos on how to shape the dough into a loaf after the first rise, see the Whole Wheat bread recipe.


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