Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This is Caleb’s favorite breakfast/lunch/snack, toasted or not & drizzled with honey.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

Combine the milk & honey. Heat to very warm but not hot (too cold & the yeast beasties will not activate, too hot & you’ll kill them). Dissolve 1 Tbsp yeast in the warm, sweet milk & set aside to proof.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a mixing bowl:

2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats, not quick-cook or steel-cut)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten

When yeast has begun to bloom & foam, add liquid ingredients & 2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter to dry ingredients, & mix to combine. When it has formed a shaggy dough-batter, stir in 1 cup raisins. At this point, let the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer do its thing (or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface) for 5-7 minutes. If the dough is too wet, add more flour, 1/8 cup at a time & combining completely before you add more, so you don’t over-do & end up too dry. If you’re in the stand mixer, now it’s time to tip out onto a floured surface & knead by hand for a few minutes more until the dough feels properly springy & elastic. Smear the dough ball with soft unsalted butter to coat, put in mixing bowl & cover with a dish towel — let rise an hour or two someplace warm (or overnight somewhere cool) until doubled in size.

Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch down & knead a few minutes, then shape dough into desired form — round, oblong, loaf. Place dough on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with towel, & set on top of the stove to rise for about an hour or so while the oven pre-heats to 350. When the loaf has puffed up & nearly doubled in size, score lightly with a serrated knife, making slits just 1/4 inch deep — parallel lines on an oblong loaf, tic-tac-toe on a round one. Brush lightly with egg white, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar (I used turbinado “sugar in the raw” because that’s what we use for coffee), & bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The bread is done when you lift it (again, use a towel, it’s hot) off the baking sheet & knock on the bottom & it sounds hollow.

Let cool on a baking rack. Serve sliced & slathered with butter or drizzled with honey. Makes the loveliest toast ever. Also delicious for sandwiches.

chocolate-cherry bread

An improvised bread experiment which, happily, ended very well. I’ve had a glass jar of Trader Joe’s dark Morello cherries (they come packed in light syrup) in the fridge for weeks, & they finally found their life’s purpose.

1 c. black coffee
1/3 c. milk
2 Tbsp of syrup from the Morello cherries (or 2T of brown sugar or honey)

Combine the coffee, milk, & syrup (or sugar). Heat to very warm but not hot (too cold & the yeast beasties will not activate, too hot & you’ll kill them). Dissolve 1 Tbsp yeast in the warm, sweet coffee-milk & set aside to proof.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a mixing bowl:

2 c. white bread flour
1 c. white wheat flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp. salt

When yeast has begun to bloom & foam, add liquid ingredients & 1 Tbsp soft unsalted butter to dry ingredients, & mix to combine. When it has formed a shaggy dough-batter, stir in 3/4 cup drained, coarse-chopped Morello cherries. At this point, let the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer do its thing (or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface) for 5-7 minutes. The cherries add quite a bit of wetness, so you may need to add up to another cup of white bread flour — go sloooowly here, adding just 1/8 cup at a time & combining completely before you add more, so you don’t over-do & end up too dry. Coarse-chop 2-3 squares of good quality dark chocolate & knead into the dough. If you’re in the stand mixer, tip out onto a floured surface & knead by hand for a few minutes more until the dough feels properly springy & elastic. Smear the dough ball with soft unsalted butter to coat, put in mixing bowl & cover with a dish towel — let rise a hour or two someplace warm (or overnight somewhere cool) until doubled in size.

Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch down & knead a few minutes, then shape dough into desired form — round, oblong, loaf. Place dough on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with towel, & set on top of the stove to rise for about an hour or so while oven pre-heats to 425. When the loaf has puffed up & nearly doubled in size, score lightly with a serrated knife, making slits just 1/4 inch deep — parallel lines on an oblong loaf, tic-tac-toe on a round one. Brush lightly with egg white, sprinkle with sugar (I used turbinado “sugar in the raw” because that’s what we use for coffee), & bake for 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when you lift it (use a towel, it’s hot) off the baking sheet & knock on the bottom & it sounds hollow.

Let cool on a baking rack until you can slice without burning your fingers. Serve with soft cream cheese, or unsalted sweet butter, or all by itself with coffee or tea or milk.

it should really have the decency to snow

Miserable raw & rainy Sunday demands comfort dinner.  I’ve decided to work my way through Green Aisle Grocery’s selection of dried heirloom beans & lentils, so today picked up a bag of French Green lentils (& a quart of organic local chocolate milk for dessert, in part because chocolate milk, in part because the heavy glass bottle is pleasing).

Lentil-Mushroom Soup:

Rinse off an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms to remove grit, then put in a glass or ceramic bowl (a glass Pyrex measuring cup is ideal).  Cover with 2-3 cups boiling water, stir, cover, & let soak for 20-30 minutes.  While the mushrooms are steeping, heat some olive oil in a big soup pot or dutch oven, then saute 2-3 chopped onions, salting lightly.  When the onions are translucent, add a cup or two of chopped carrots; then 2 cups of sliced mushrooms (cremini or baby bella are nice; white are fine, too).  Salt, fresh ground black pepper, 2 dried bay leaves, a tablespoon of dried thyme leaves, crushed in your hands before you throw them in the pot.  Stir, stir, stir.  Scoop the dried mushrooms (now squishy & soft) out of their soaking liquid (save this), chop them up, & throw them in the pot.  Add 1 1/2 cups dried lentils (rinsed & sorted), stir, stir.  Add the soaking liquid from the dried porcini, pouring slowly so any grit or sediment doesn’t get into the pot.  Add a cup or two of red wine, enough water to cover everything by 2 inches, bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings.  During the last 20-30 minutes, add a few chopped red potatoes, skin on, & simmer until they soften slightly & lose their sharp edges.  The broth created from the red wine & mushroom liquid is earthy & wintery goodness, & will want bread for soaking.

Potato Bread:

As with all breads, this is going to go a lot easier with a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, which is one of the things I would rescue from the house in event of fire, which is unfortunate because it is very heavy.

Potato bread sounds like it’s going to be dense & heavy, but something amazing happens between the potato starch & the yeast, & it’s light & chewy & makes amazing toast.

Chop up 1 1/3 c. red potatoes, leaving the skins on, & boil until soft.  Let cool a bit in their cooking water until warm enough to reach in, scoop them out & into the mixer’s bowl, add a tablespoon of salt, & 4 c. bread flour, & 1 1/2 tablespoons of gluten (you can get this at most markets anymore).  Mix with the beater attachment to mash the potatoes into the flour, then (mixer running on low) add 1 packet (or 1 tablespoon) yeast, then 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt.  Slowly add 1 1/3 c. of the lukewarm cooking water from the potatoes (too cool will not activate the yeast beasties, but too hot will kill them).  Add another 1/2 cup of bread flour.  When this shaggy mess starts to look like dough, switch to the dough hook on lowest setting, adding flour as you need (you may need to ad another cup or two).  Let the dough hook do it’s thing for about 10 minutes, then tip the blob of dough onto a floured workspace & knead by hand for another two minutes.  While you’re doing this, soak the mixing bowl in hot soapy water.  When you’re finished kneading, wash out the mixing bowl, butter the dough ball (easiest way to do this is to take a lump of butter btwn your palms & rub together so your hands are lightly coated, then smear all over the dough), put it in the mixing bowl, cover with a towel, & let it rise for an hour or so some place warm, or overnight someplace not-so-warm.  When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, knead for a minute then form into whatever shape you like (another ball, or more of a log-loaf).  Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal, put the dough on top & cover with a towel.  Preheat over to 450 (I let the second-rise take place on top of the stove, to give it a little heat oomph).  When the dough is puffed up & almost doubled in size, remove towel & pop it in the over for 20 minutes.  Lower heat to 375 & cook for another 15 minutes.  Check bread for done-ness by lifting it off the baking sheet (use a towel.  it’s hot) & knocking on the bottom; when it’s done, it will sound hollow.  Let cool a bit, slice, serve with soup, make into toast, eat for dessert with chocolate milk.