Jul 10, 2017

Recipe: Whole Wheat Honey Oat Bread

Who doesn't like bread? I spent my summers in Germany growing up, so I've been completely spoiled as far as good bread goes and snub most store-bought loaves over here in the US. 

So that I don't have to wait for my next trip to Germany to enjoy bread, and because baking a loaf of homemade bread from scratch is so satisfying, I like to make my own bread when I have someone to share it with, a picnic to bring it to, or just a bit of spare time and some yeast in the pantry. 

How to bake whole wheat bread

This honey oat bread is a dense, but soft, loaf that's chewy, nutty, and 75% whole wheat. You won't get as crusty a crust as with breads that have a higher percentage of white flour, because of differences in how whole grains and refined grains bake, but it still has a good crust. Read on for the recipe!

Whole Wheat Honey Oat Bread

Makes One 9" Loaf

* 2 c. whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour, since it's what I had on hand, so I need a little extra flour - I ended up using about 2.5c. of white whole wheat flour)
* 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 c. old fashioned rolled oats, plus additional oats for sprinkling
* 2 tsp. salt
* 2.5 tsp instant dry yeast (if you use active dry yeast instead, you must activate the yeast first in warm water with honey for ~10 minutes - adjust recipe instructions accordingly)

* 1.25 c. warm water (NOT hot or you'll kill your yeast!)
* 0.25 c. honey
* 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted.

1) Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

2) Combine the wet ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Mix well.

Baking Bread

3) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a heavy wooden spoon (as you can tell from the photos, I made do with what I had in my new kitchen for gadgets! I left much of my kitchen behind in Boston, unfortunately).

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

4) Once the dough has pulled together into one ball, turn it out onto a clean, floured surface. 

Honey Oat Bread Recipe

5) Knead for 10-12 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Whole Wheat Bread

6) Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl. Roll the dough around in the bowl to cover all sides with oil. This prevents a dry crust from forming on the dough, so it's quite important!

7) Let rise in a warm place for 1.5-2 hours, until doubled in size. Alternately, you can refrigerate overnight (as I did) in case you'd like to bake the bread earlier in the day the following day.

8) Press the dough into a roughly 1" thick rectangle and fold it over on itself to squeeze out excess air from the first rise. Use the heel of your hand to seal the fold and then roll the dough gently into an oblong loaf. Place the dough, seam down, on a greased baking sheet.

9) Let the dough rise again until doubled in size, ~1.5 to 2 hours. If you refrigerated the dough for the first rise, the second rise should be at least about 2 hours, since it will take time to warm up and rise more slowly until it does so.

10) Place a baking tray in the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 375F. 

11) Brush the surface of the loaf with water and sprinkle with some extra oats for decoration. Cut a few slashes in the top of the loaf.

How to bake bread

11) Pour boiling water into the hot tray on the bottom rack of the oven and quickly shut the oven door to trap the steam. Put the bread in on the rack above that and bake for 15 minutes.

12) Remove the tray of hot water and bake the loaf for an additional 30 - 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and crusty.

13) Cool on a wire rack until totally cool (several hours). You can also already eat the bread now, of course, just don't store it until it's totally cool!

How to bake whole wheat bread

Store in a large paper bag (plastic can make your crust soggy) and finish within a couple days. Homemade bread goes stale much faster than store-bought bread, since there are no preservatives, but it's also healthier, more natural, and more delicious!

What's your favorite bread recipe?  Links welcome!

What's your favorite kind of bread?

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