I’ve gotten spoiled by having a bakery booth at the farmers market this year. Chef Shane was taking a break this past weekend, so I had to do without my weekly baguette. Not too bad of a thing, as it pushed me to make my own daily bread. I knew I wanted to make a sandwich from some of my CSA goodies, and I knew it would call for a hearty, slightly sweet bread. Oats and honey came to mind right away and wheat and sorgum soon followed. I found a recipe that was close to what I wanted, but a little on the rich side and made mostly with white flour. I toned down the butter and dialed up the grains and came up with a tasty sandwich loaf.
I made bread for many years by hand, but now I use my trusty Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, Pearl. If you want to make this by hand and need help with the adaptation, leave me a comment. I try to make bread when I’m not in a big hurry. A long, slow raise gives the dough structure and flavor, but if you are in rush you can put the dough in a warm place to speed things along. The more whole grains in a bread, the slower the raise.
Oat & Wheat Bread
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sorgum (substitute with molasses or more honey if you don’t have sorgum)
2 tbsp yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
4-5 cups white flour
2 tsp sea salt
In small sauce pan combine water, butter, honey, and sorgum. Warm over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Pour mixture into stand mixer bowl. Swirl it around a few times to cool the mixture and warm the bowl. When mixture has cooled to body temperature or just above, sprinkle in yeast. Let sit a few minutes until yeast begins to foam. Add eggs, whole wheat flour, oats, 4 cups white flour, and the salt. Mix on speed two for about two minutes. Add white flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides, and forms a smooth mass. Opt for too little flour rather than too much. I like to give my dough a few turns by hand in the bowl. The warmth of your hands gives the raising process a kick start. Place dough in a well oiled bowl (I often just pour some oil in the mixer bowl if I don’t need it for something else right away) and turn over so that the top side is oiled. Cover bowl with a damp tea towel. Allow dough to double. This loaf took about two hours. (I punched the dough down and let it double again to up the flavor and give a better crumb or texture, but you can skip this step if you like.) Divide dough into two pieces and shape each into a round or oval loaf and place on greased baking sheet*. Cover with damp towel. When loaves have almost doubled in bulk, heat over to 375 degrees. If you like a thick crust, place a container with about 1 cup of water on the bottom over rack to create steam. Bake loaves in the middle of the oven until tops are well browned and sound hollow when tapped, about an hour. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Reserve a tbsp each of the oats and egg white. Before putting loaves in oven, brush tops with egg white and sprinkle on oats.
If you have a baking stone, it can help you turn out some really nice bread, but the method takes a little practice. Place shaped loaves on parchment or a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet to raise. When oven is hot slide the baking sheet into the oven over the baking stone. Tilt the far end down slightly and pull back with a quick jerk, leaving the loaves on top of the baking stone. Continue with baking as above. This method is almost essential for a really good pizza crust as well.