bread challenge update: getting better at this

I have gotten infinitely better at this whole bread thing in the past couple of weeks! The biggest changes I made were to my frame of mind while baking. It has taken me till month-four to realize that I just need to s-l-o-w  d-o-w-n and be more patient with the bread-rising stages (and life).

I was sticking to a clock rather than letting it be ready when it was ready and my breads were suffering for it. But now? Now, I make my dough first thing in the morning and just go about the rest of my day, punching it down and baking when it’s ready.

It has been incredibly difficult for me to do this whole slowing down thing. It really has, but I think it’s for the best as I am the kinder and more patient person that I strive to be.

The picture below is of the loaf I baked yesterday. It is the fluffiest and prettiest loaf that I have baked to date and you’ll note that the family agreed – that’s all that’s left the of it today. I’ve been using Deborah Madison’s recipe for Oat Bread – nice and hearty with oats, bran and whole-wheat flour – mostly because it holds up to our sandwiches well. We also just really love oats in bread.

Oat Bread
from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water or milk ( i used water)
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup wheat bran
2-3 cups of bread flour
additional oats and bran for the top

Combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, butter or spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan and oil a bowl for the dough.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the warm water, honey, butter and salt. Stir in the yeast, then add the whole-wheat flout, oats and bran. Beat in the bread flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5 minutes, adding as much of the remaining flour as it will hold and still be a little tacky. Put the dough in the oiled bowl, turn it once, then cover and set aside until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

Push down the dough, then shape into a loaf. Roll it into a mixture of bran and oats to coat the top, then set it in a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise until again doubled, about 35 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF during the last 15 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread pulls slightly away from the sides of the pan.

P.S. I found the rising times to be longer than noted in the recipe. Baking time in actual 375º oven was dead on.

Be kind. Be patient. Eat well.

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