Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Honey and oats sandwich loaf

I can't believe it's hump day already! Halfway to the weekend. The weeks just fly away, it was barely spring and now it's less than 100 days to Christmas. But rather than thinking of dark mornings and evenings ahead, let's think about happy things. Like carbs!

This recipe is adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker blog, as it was one of the first hits that came up when I googled "sandwich bread recipe oats" and I thought it looked and sounded very delicious. I saw a very special sandwich on a cooking program on telly the other day, and am dying to try it but we didn't have any bread in the house so instead of buying some substandard British supermarket bread I just thought I would make some myself.

I always convince myself baking bread is a huge hassle, so I don't do it nearly often enough. But I started this dough after getting out of bed on a Saturday morning (around 8ish), and it was out of the oven by 11.30 am, so after giving it a bit of time to cool I will have super fresh bread for our lunch sandwiches.

This is a very simple dough to throw together from ingredients you are most likely to have at home at any time (possible minus the honey, depending on if you are a big honey fan or not. I have some old honey that has started to crystallise a bit, so this recipe was a perfect way to use it up before it became completely unusable). The original recipe uses traditional oats, not the quick cook ones, and there were comments on the site saying the dough was too soggy if using quick cook oats, but I didn't have a problem, hopefully this will work for other people as well. If you use traditional oats, have a look at the original recipe, as you are supposed to soak them in boiling hot water first and then letting the mixture cool before proceeding. I made my bread exactly as described below without problems. 

Honey and oats sandwich bread (makes 1 loaf):
1 cup warm water 
1/4 cup warm milk
2 tsp instant (easy bake) yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 cup quick cook oats
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces)
1 cup strong whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cup strong white flour

Ready for the oven
The howto:
Mix the warm water, milk, yeast, oats and honey in a bowl, and leave for a few minutes. Add the butter and salt and mix. Add flour and turn onto a table and knead until a soft dough forms (this can be done by hand or using a machine. As I don't have any other options, I did it by hand. The dough is a bit soft, but after kneading this brioche bun dough, this dough was easy peasy). Leave to proof for about an hour, or until dough has doubled in size. 

If using a regular bread loaf pan (9x5 in), butter it. I used my trusty silicon loaf pan, which needs no prep, I love it as it's one more step that can be omitted, making things just that little bit easier. After the dough has proved, oil your hands, and knock the air out of the dough by kneading it a few times. At this point the dough seemed really well behaved, it didn't stick and was easy to handle. Shape the dough into a log by smoothing it out to a rectangle and make a roll, tucking the ends under and rolling a few times on the table to ensure its even. There are some pictures of the process on the Browned Eyed Baker blog here if you aren't sure how to do it. Pop the loaf into the tin, and leave to proof for another hour to hour and a half (my loaf was climbing well over the edges of the loaf pan after an hour). At the end of the proofing, preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Bake for 45 minutes, and protect with foil if bread starts to brown too heavily. I added 10 minutes to the baking time as the bread still felt a bit wobbly after 45 minutes. Also, it didn't become nearly as dark as the bread in the original blog post, not sure why but it turned out great nonetheless.

The verdict:
This was a very easy bread to put together and it had great rise. It was really hard to wait until it had cooled completely before sampling it. But I do urge you to wait, as the bread is really difficult to cut while the loaf is still warm (don't ask me why I know). This bread is quite sweet from the honey, so beware if you don't like sweet breads. For me it was perfect, as I do like a bit of sweetness, and it goes great with the light nuttiness of the oats. I also like that it's very soft and fluffy, not at all dense. I think it would be perfect for toasting and serving with butter and jam. I'm not sure it would be the best for sandwiches as it seems quite soft, and quite hard to cut into really thin slices. Given how little work it is to make, this is a really great, tasty and lightly textured bread which baked perfect the first time I tried it although I did make some alterations to the original recipe.

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