I mentioned in an earlier post how most of Canada is now in the midst of the “dog days” of winter. I live on the east coast and we have already been totally pummeled this year and winter has officially, barely begun.
On December 23rd we were entombed in ice more than an inch thick, lost power for days (many for up to 11 days!) had four successive snow storms and are now in the midst of bone chilling, record-breaking cold temperatures.
What is a girl to do with all of this wild weather but to head to the kitchen and start baking! We had a big ham dinner on New Years Day and a couple of days later, to my surprise, had some ham still remaining! So for dinner that night, to serve with the ham, I decided to make a big batch of homemade baked beans and a couple of loaves of my grandmother’s Oatmeal Molasses Brown Bread. I have modified her original bread recipe just a bit, but the results are still as fabulous!
When working with yeast the temperature of the liquid used to activate the yeast is VERY important. Too cool and the yeast won’t activate, too hot and you will kill the yeast. Many people just go by “feel”; the water should feel warm on your wrist, but not hot. However, I am not confident in the guessing method so I have always used a thermometer to get the exact temperature of the liquid before adding my yeast.
When you have added enough flour to the mixture, the dough should clean the sides of the bowl. In the picture above, the dough still needed about 1/8 of a cup and it then almost completely cleaned the sides of the bowl. Once the bowl is “clean”, start your 10 minutes of kneading time.
The glossy mound of soft dough, all oiled and ready to be put in a warm place to rise. (Note the “cleaned” bowl, it is the same one I used for mixing, it has not been washed, and there is barely a trace of dough on the sides.}
The warm, soft, mass of dough has paused just long enough for a quick picture before being divided in two and placed into waiting pans.
If only I could do justice to the sweet, yeasty, hearty perfume wafting from the oven when these beauties were baking. I could barely restrain myself from loping off a big slice and slathering it with butter…DELICIOUS!
I could wait no longer!
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 11/2 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp butter (melted and cooled)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup molasses
- 2 tsp of salt
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 to 5 cups of flour
- In a large mixing bowl add yeast and honey to the warm water, let sit until creamy and bubbly.
- Affix paddle attachment to mixer and add the butter, sugar, egg and molasses, mix well.
- Affix dough hook and add 3 cups of the flour, salt and rolled oats, mix well.
- Gradually add only enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl when mixing.
- How much flour added will depend on a multitude of variables.(humidity, weather, measuring technique, etc) Today, I used about 41/2 cups total.
- Using the dough hook attachment knead for 10 minutes.
- The dough should feel soft and but not sticky. If dough is sticky add a bit more flour and knead another couple minutes.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl.(I use the same bowl, remove the dough, add some olive oil and put the dough back in the bowl and move it around to cover it in the oil.)
- Cover with a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot. (If you have a "proof" setting on your oven you can use this or place in a nice warm spot away from any draft.)
- Let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, butter two 6" x 10" loaf pans.
- Remove dough from bowl to a clean cutting board and divide dough into two pieces.
- Shape each piece into a log shape and place in greased pan. Sprinkle each loaf with a bit of oatmeal.
- Cover the pans and return them to a warm place until once again doubled in size; approximately 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and half fill a small ovenproof dish with water.
- When dough has doubled in size, place both breads and pan of water in oven. (The moisture from the water will help the bread rise even more and make a crunchy top).
- Bake for 45 - 55 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped.
- Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan 15 - 20 minutes. Then remove the loaves to a rack to finish cooling.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and as always, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.