More pandemic bread making. I am using one of the last envelopes of yeast my neighbor was kind enough to share with me. Yeast and flour are extremely hard to come by right now. I’ve never before had trouble finding yeast on the grocery store shelves. Apparently toilet paper isn’t the only thing people are hoarding. A friend messaged me a couple days ago after finding a jar of yeast in her freezer which had a 2013 expiration date on it. She wanted to know if I thought it was still good. I sent her a link with instructions for testing the yeast to see if it would still work. Testing is really very simple. You put a little yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar and it should start bubbling after a few minutes. If it bubbles, you’re good to go. Amazingly her yeast was still good. Freezing or refrigerating dry yeast lengthens its shelf life as long as it is in an airtight container. Cake yeast should not be frozen. But truthfully, I haven’t seen cake yeast in years!!
Back to my oatmeal bread. This recipe is one that I found years ago in the food section of a local newspaper. It’s a hearty, dense bread. Easy to make. The brown sugar and whole wheat flour give it a bit of a sweet molasses like flavor. We toasted some this morning and enjoyed it with a cup of coffee.
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T salt
2 T butter
2 cups boiling water
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups AP flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl, pouring the boiling water over the butter and dry ingredients. Stir and set aside until it cools to lukewarm.
Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Once the oatmeal mixture has cooled, add the yeast. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast so make sure you’ve allowed it to cool sufficiently. Start stirring in the 4 cups of AP flour and the 1/2 cup of wheat flour. You’ll have a shaggy dough.
Empty the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Add a little additional flour if necessary. After kneading you should have a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly greased with butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. This bowl belonged to my grandmother who regularly made pulla (a Finnish braided bread with cardamom) and limpu (a Finnish rye bread). Over the years I watched lots of bread dough rise in that bowl making it extra special to me.
Put the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until it is double in size. Many new ovens have a proof setting that you can use to speed the rise process a bit.
Punch the dough down and divide into two loaves. You can shape them into standard loaves and put them in greased pans or shape them in rounds on a parchment covered sheet pan. Whatever your shape preference. Cover with a towel and allow the dough to once again double. While your dough is rising preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pans and allow the loaves to cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy. There’s nothing like homemade bread. The ultimate comfort food.
NOTE: This dough can be made using the dough hook on your KitchenAid. But I think hand kneading is much more satisfying. As my daughter says, sometimes you just have the need to knead. If you keep making bread during this pandemic, it becomes important and necessary to share it with someone.