Sunday, December 02, 2007

Oatmeal Bread

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rose mentioned making Jeffrey Hammelman's oatmeal bread for her father a few weeks ago, and that mention made me want to make a loaf myself. I googled "Jeffrey Hammelman's oatmeal bread" in hopes of finding the recipe, but no luck. I checked it on, where I was able to open the book on line and actually find the recipe, but it makes about 40 or 50 loaves, which was about 39 or 49 more than I wanted. We were in the middle of a blizzard, so I couldn't run out to a bookstore and find the book, so I had to give up (temporarily, at least) on making that particular oatmeal bread.
I found one in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, one of my favorite cookbooks. It seemed simple enough. I modified it a little to include some white whole wheat flour, which I've been wanting to try, and I used some organic five-grain cereal mix instead of oatmeal, but it's basically one of those recipes where you just dump everything in, mix it up, and let it rise.
I hated this dough. I couldn't get it right. I'd add a little more flour, and it became a hard, tough, rock-like ball. I'd add a little more milk or water, and it just became gluey. It was also exceedingly ugly. The recipe calls for a cup of wheat bran, which made the dough a particularly disgusting shade of brown. I also had a hard time shaping it, so that both ends looked like massive belly buttons.

Still, I persevered. I let it rise three times, twice in the bowl and once in the pan, instead of the two times specified in the original recipe. The extra rising seemed to aerate it enough so that it was not just a leaden mass. In fact, despite its not-at-all promising beginnings, it was actually quite good. The repulsive brown became a lovely golden tan, and the oatmeal mixture that I rolled the dough in gave it a rustic prettiness and a nice crunch.
I don't know about Jeffrey Hammelman's oatmeal bread, but Deborah Madison's is the ugly duckling of breads.

Oatmeal Bread

1 1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup honey
2 T. butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats or five-grain cereal mix (first ingredient should be oats)
1 cup wheat bran
1 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. instant yeast
1 1/2 t. salt
Additional oats for top

1. Warm milk, butter, and honey together. Set aside.
2. Mix flours, oats, bran, and yeast in mixing bowl with dough hook.
3. Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture.
4. Add salt.
5. Knead for at least five minutes in mixer or by hand. Dough is supposed to be firm but a little tacky, although it might be unpromising at this point.
6. Put dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
7. When dough doubles in size, put it onto a floured counter, stretch into a rectangle, and give it a business letter turn.
8. Let it rise again until doubled, 45 minutes to an hour.
9. Preheat oven to 375 (350 convection).
10. Shape dough into loaf, and roll with additional oats or cereal mixture. Put in loaf pan until doubled.
11. Bake about 40 minutes, turning the pan after 20 minutes.
12. Turn loaf onto rack and let cool. (If oats fall off the top of the loaf, just scoop them up and pat them back on top).


Melinda said...

I love the belly button comparison!
I also like the way you adapt the recipe to how you know it will be better. You are a real bread baker now!

Doughadear said...

I can sympathize with your frustration when the dough turns out gluey instead of silky. When the dough reacts this way I just want to throw the whole thing out. However, perserverance often rewards you with a nice loaf of bread.

kneadtobake said...

Your oatmeal bread has alot of character, I don't think it is ugly at all, and I am sure it was very delicious.
Congrats on finishing your novel, you are very inspiring.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh yes I do like the belly button idea!
I love oatmeal bread. Have a recipe I use everyday and make all kinds of goodies with it.
Sounds like this was trouble that turned lovely, just an ugly duckling!

rpse said...

actually it DOES ressemble a belly button, pehaps of a woman who has been pregnant with multiple births!
i've been working non-stop on the hammelman recipe and now have my own versions--one with old starter and one without is rising right now! i'll be posting them on my blog on dec. 22 as a sort of winter/holiday present!

breadbasketcase said...

I maybe should have done a little more adapting! I remembered when I was making it that Rose only puts wheat germ in her "Heart of wheat" bread because it's the bran that makes it bitter--so maybe it would have been better if I'd done that. So many possibilities....

I really did just want to toss the whole thing out, but I'm glad I didn't. I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere, but I'm not exactly sure what it is. It's not over til the fat bread sings?

Are you sure that saying it has a lot of character isn't a tactful way of saying it's kinda ugly?

I found your Mother's Day oatmeal bread recipe on your blog--I think I would prefer your version with flax instead of wheat bran. I'll give it a try. I also want to try your Daring Baker Challenge potato bread.

Yes, that's an earth mother belly button all right. I'm excited to look forward to your version of oatmeal bread, especially the one using the starter. Now that I have my starter, I like to use it as much as possible.

rpse said...

glad you said that bc i wasn't going to give the starter version since it's so good without it as well. but now i will. and by the way it also has flax!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I change the sweet level depending on where I want to go with it. I'm thinking about trying it for a monkey bread soon and will probably go with honey for that.
When I crossed the Atlantic, this was the only bread I baked, every two days: one loaf, one batch of cinnamon rolls.