When I lived in Poland, my building had a bakery in its basement. Every morning, I woke to the smell of baking bread wisping through my open window, and just about every breakfast consisted of a fresh roll with real butter and jam. It’s one of my favorite memories from my all-too-brief life abroad.
Back in America, we’re so used to prepackaged grocery store bread, we’ve lost touch with “real” bread. Fresh bread has become something of a delicacy here, reserved as a treat for special occasions. Odd, isn’t it? The smell of baking bread, once a part of everyday life for just about everyone, is now virtually unfamiliar to the majority of the American public.
Yet, there’s something truly calming and relaxing about the process of kneading, and infinitely joyous about the scent of yeast, and very, very few things that taste more pleasurable than a warm slice of bread just out of the oven. Breadmaking is rhythmic, patient, and therapeutic…no wonder so many people enjoy it.
Unfortunately, many people view bread-making with intimidation and fear, they resign themselves to the fact they are “not bakers” and yeast is a complicated medium, and it just takes too much time and effort.
Well, I’m here to say that I’m not a baker either, but that doesn’t mean baking has to be intimidating. Afterall, delicious results always make the effort worthwhile. One of my favorite recipes is for Oatmeal Bread. It’s simple to put together and has delicious results–A lightly chewy crust, a soft and fluffy middle, and a slightly sweet flavor. Here’s the recipe for anyone who wants to try.
recipe courtesy of Posy Gets Cozy
1 1/4 c. warm water (110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 c. all-purpose or bread flour
1 c. whole-wheat flour
3/4 c. rolled oats
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons soft butter or olive oil
In a measuring cup, add brown sugar to warm water. Stir to dissolve. Add yeast and stir, then set the timer for 5 minutes so the yeast can proof. While that’s happening, stir the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, oats, salt, and butter or oil together in a large bowl (or the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer with the bread hook attached). When the yeast has proofed, add the yeast water to the flour mixture a bit at a time and work it all together until you have a shaggy lump of dough. Knead for 10 minutes.
Leave dough to rise,covered, in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Punch it down, knead it a few times on a floured board, then shape it into a long sausage shape and place it in a 9″ x 5″ well-oiled loaf pan. Cover it with the dishtowel again and let it rise for 1/2 hour. Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 degrees F and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until done.