Earthy Simplicity (easy oat bread)
Have we talked about this bread yet? I feel like I must have shared it with you at some point between when Amanda and I first made it last August and now. August was busy, so I guess I didn’t tell you then, but surely I sang its praises in October when I made it a second time. If not then, surely in December, right? I mean, if I had time to make a fifth loaf amid the rush of work parties and decorating, I also had time to duck in here and whisper a little about oats not destined for holiday baking.
But alas, I’ve kept it a secret between Amanda and myself. Sometimes secrets are best. I swear I do my best cooking when no one is watching. When it’s just me, my eclectic mix of pots, pans and utensils, and whatever ingredients fill the fridge. Alone at the dinner table, I can’t imagine anything tasting better. It’s when I try to recreate dishes for friends or family that I become my own worst critic. I want nothing more than for them to fall in love with the same flavor combination that peppered my memories long after the last leftovers had been reheated.
And yet, no matter how many burnt pies and bland shrimp cocktails I make for family gatherings, I’ll never stop wanting to share. I had intended to share this bread with my mom while I was home, but got caught up in snazzier recipes like a Christmas Eve Buche Noel, so many soups, and homemade peppermint ice cream. And while you can never really go wrong with chocolate-iced cake or anything mint-flavored, its a shame this no-knead recipe keeps getting lost in the shuffle.
Perhaps its more of a January recipe anyway, fitting the month’s earthy simplicity. Schedules are a little less rushed; the weather is a dreary, unchanging beast; nothing feels bogged down by the weight of the previous eleven months. There’s suddenly a time and a need to sit down with a bowl of oatmeal and a butter-slathered slice of bread to enjoy the ephemeral sliver of sunlight that January capriciously provides. That said, you can bet as January melts into cupid’s February, green March and the slow trickle of spring behind it, I’ll continue enjoying this bread as my quick morning treat. It’s a great breakfast to share any time of the year.
Easy Little Bread
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks, makes one loaf
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup / 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Oil or melted butter for brushing loaf pan
In a medium bowl, add the yeast to the warm water. Stir in honey and set aside for about 5-10 minutes. Yeast should be foamy at this point. While yeast mixture sits, mix the flours, oats and salt in a large bowl. When ready, add the wet mixture and stir very well.
Brush an 8-cup loaf pan with melted butter or oil. Turn the dough out into the tin, cover with a clean towel and set in a warm place. Let rise for 30 minutes (or an hour in a colder kitchen).
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake bread for 35-40 minutes, until edges start to brown and pull away from the sides of the pan. Turn the bread out of the pan to cool on a rack. I like to cut the loaf into one inch slices and then freeze them in plastic bags. Then it takes just 5 or so minutes under the broiler in the morning to get warm, toasty, golden bread. Slather that with a dab of butter and it provides the perfect companion to any breakfast.