OK, I go a little crazy with whole grains, as I prefer to grind them myself (or with oats, I often roll them.) I love all grains freshly ground when possible. For one thing, they stay fresh longer in their whole form.
But before you think I’m too tied to the earth, I do prefer to work with a mixer with both the paddle and dough hook so that I can keep the dough a little wetter than I would do with white bread. If you’ve never made bread before, it might be helpful to read up on it, or look at some YouTube videos for good technique. Just remember… no matter how new you are at this, freshly made bread hot out of the oven is always better than anything you can buy.
Wheat and Oatmeal Bread
- In a saucepan, heat the milk to almost boiling. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool. (This is called scalding.) When cooled a bit, there will be a skin on top of the milk. Remove this and throw away. (That skin tends to prevent the bread from rising.)
- Now add the water, honey, butter and salt to the warm milk and reheat so the butter melts and the honey dissolves. Take off
the heat, stir in the oatmeal, and cool again to lukewarm (about 100 degrees) while you proof the yeast.
- To proof the yeast, put 1/4 cup warm filtered water (we don’t want chlorine in there) into a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sugar and the yeast into the water and stir. Allow to sit until the yeast is bubbly. If it doesn’t get bubbly after 10 minutes, throw it out and get new yeast.
- Add the milk mixture, bubbly yeast, and whole wheat flour to a big bowl (or mixer bowl if you have a good strong one) and mix thoroughly. (If I’m using my standing mixer, I use the paddle for this part. If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon.) Beat for about 3 minutes to allow the yeast to develop.
- If using a mixer, switch to a dough hook and begin sprinkling in the bread flour using just enough to keep the dough from
sticking. Mix for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to make sure all the dough is getting mixed together. If using your hands, stir in the flour little-by-little with a wooden spoon until the dough gets too thick to stir. Then turn out onto a breadboard and knead for 10 minutes, adding enough bread flour to keep things from getting too sticky.
- Form the dough into a ball and cover with a towel in a draft-free place. Leave to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- When doubled in bulk, punch down and form into two loaves. Place into a well-buttered bread pan, or turn it onto a flat skillet, cover, and let rise again for about an hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- When done rising, place in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 25-30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and feel light when held in your hand.