Complete. Carb. Overload. That's how I am coping with the fact that I am still a captive in our house.
Obviously, we Southerners are clueless when it comes to snow and ice. What's the first thing that happens when there is a mere whisper of anything white in the forecast? The grocery store shelves get completely emptied of milk and bread, that's what. This week was no different. In fact, I just saw on the local news that stocks still have not been replenished.
I can't do anything about our diminishing supply of milk, but bread? I'm all over that! With nothing else to do, baking a couple of loaves sounded like a good plan.
Now bear in mind, I try to limit carbs during the week. At least when things are "normal" (whatever that is) around here. But these last four days have been anything but, so food scruples have flown out the window. Needless to say, Henry is not disappointed by this.
I started with Oatmeal Wheat Bread. This recipe produces soft and delicate loaves, which are lovely and not too heavy. I toasted some slices for breakfast this morning (since my egg supply is almost depleted) and it had a lovely, crunchy crust. I may never buy bread in the supermarket again!
OATMEAL WHEAT BREAD (Adapted from “Gourmet Today”)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking), plus additional for sprinkling
½ warm water (105 – 115-degrees)
3 packages (1/4 oz.) yeast
½ cup honey
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.
Stir together the warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the honey in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture doesn’t foam, discard it and start over with new yeast.
Stir yeast mixture, melted butter and remaining honey into oatmeal.
Place the flours and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend briefly to combine. Add oat mixture and blend again to combine then let sit for 10 minutes. Turn mixer on low speed and mix for 10 minutes, until dough gathers on the beater.
Remove dough to a well-oiled bowl or container and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1 – 1 ½ hours until doubled in size. Grease two 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pans.
Punch dough down and knead briefly. Divide in half and pat or roll each half into a 10 x 6-inch rectangle. Starting from long side, roll up each rectangle tightly. Pinch seam to seal and place dough seam-side-down in pans, gently tucking ends under to fit. Place pans in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 375-degrees.
Lightly brush tops of risen loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with oats. Bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove bread from pans and transfer on a rack to cool completely.
Yield: 2 loaves
* I did not have whole milk, so I used 1 1/2 cups of my usual 1% milk, then added 1/2 cup of half-and-half.
Haha, but after I made these loaves, I logged on to my Facebook account. Two of my very talented friends (Bobby and Don, you know who you are) had sent me a recipe for beer bread. Beer bread? I went back to my recipe files and unearthed my dinosaur recipe for it that called for Bisquik. Uh, I think not.
This recipe, though, called for self-rising flour. And an entire stick of butter. Now really, how bad could it be? Besides, I know these two and they really GET food. I took the plunge.
BOBBY AND DON'S BEER BREAD
4 cups self-rising flour (see note)
1 1/2 cups (1 12-oz. bottle) warm beer (I used Sweetwater 420)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Do NOT preheat your oven.
Grease a 6-cup ovenproof bowl (I used a 6-cup souffle dish which measured 6 3/4-inches in diameter and was 3 1/2-inches high).
Combine flour, beer and sugar in a medium bowl. Pour into the greased souffle dish (or whatever you are using) and pour the melted and cooled butter over.
Place in the cold oven and put a bowl or pan underneath to catch any dripping butter. Turn oven on to 325-degrees. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours then remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Bobby and Don's ideas for flavor variations:
Italian - add 1 tablespoon each fresh basil and oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese
Herb - add 1 teaspoon each of chopped fresh rosemary, oregano and thyme
Spicy - add 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar and 1/4 can green chili peppers, chopped
Seeds - add 5 tablespoons poppy, sesame or caraway seeds
They also suggest experimenting with different beers. A darker beer will give a deeper, fuller flavor, while a lighter beer will taste less robust.
And of course, I have a few comments....
Don't have any self-rising flour in the house? No worries (I didn't either). Just use all-purpose, unbleached flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every cup of flour.
I have to say that in terms of overall effort, the beer bread wins hands-down. It was SO easy, no yeast, no kneading and no drama. Yes, my Oatmeal Wheat Bread was delicous, but not so much that it was worth the work as compared to the effortless and delicious Beer Bread. Interesting.....
And although I've been indulging in carbs (I won't tell you about the whipping cream pound cake I made yesterday, unless of course, you ask me for the recipe), I got my workout today. We live on a cul-de-sac at the top of a very long hill. The bottom of the hill doesn't get much sunlight, so there was a tremendous amount of ice build-up. It also dumps out onto a very busy road, so sliding your car down there into tons of oncoming traffic is not a good idea. Henry rallied the neighbors today and lots of people showed up to hack up the ice and clear the road. That included me, although my real contribution was a couple dozen freshly baked, warm chocolate chunk cookies. Thanks, neighbors!
My hands are so sore from wielding that shovel today that I can hardly lift my wineglass. I'll manage, however. Here's to tomorrow's escape!