This is my second batch of the bread, and, barring some potentially over-toasted nuts, I think the tweaks I made this time round were big improvements to the loaf. Of course, this second one I was making for my family, not for a party, which meant that (of course) it turned out much better.
I should probably do this in reverse: test recipes on family, perfect for company.
As much as I thoroughly enjoy getting my hands dirty and taking out my frustration on dough, the fact that I'm still in Ottawa and have access to a bread machine (and am currently sporting an awesome blister from my failed croquembouche attempt) means I don't have to knead away. And I choose to take the easy way out.
Nutty Oat Bread with Maple
(Loosely adapted from Canada's Best Bread Machine Baking Recipes)
1 1/3 cups milk (1 cup milk, 1/3 cup water for traditional/non bread machine recipe)
1¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp maple syrup (the real stuff please, none of that Aunt Jemima nonsense)
2 tbsp butter (if you have walnut oil, which I didn't, you might want to use it instead)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour (or bread flour)
½ cup quick cooking (not instant) oats, large or medium flake
¼ cup finely chopped nuts (I recommend either walnut or pecan)
1½ tsp bread machine yeast (if you're not going the bread machine route, I'd just use 2¼ tsp regular yeast)
Directions Bread Machine
1. (Totally optional, but highly recommended) Preheat the oven to 350º. Place oats and nuts on a baking tray and bake, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes or until brown. Hello flavour country!
2. Measure ingredients into baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Insert baking pan into oven chamber. Select Dough Cycle. Let the machine do its thing.
3. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.
4. Form the dough into a loaf shape (we're talking free form here). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and let rise 30-45 minutes or until doubled in volume. Add a few decorative slashes to the top here, if you're so inclined.
5. (Totally optional step #2) Gently brush the top with water or milk and sprinkle with a few extra oats.
5. Bake at 375º for 35-45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. If you have an electric thermometer, you can test with it to see if the loaf is done. Once it reaches 190º, you're golden.
6. Let cool on rack before digging in!
Directions By Hand
Repeat as above, but substitute the following for step two!
2a) In a large bowl stir together1/3 cup warm water (about 100-110º) and ½ tbsp maple syrup. Once dissolved, sprinkle yeast over the top of the surface, and set aside for 5-10 minutes, until yeast blooms (gets all foamy).
2b) In a saucepan, stir together milk, butter, salt and remaining maple syrup and heat just until butter melts. Pour into yeast mixture. (Be sure that the milk mixture isn't too hot! Don't forget that yeast is a living thing and can be killed by high heat at this stage.) Stir together.
2c) Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole wheat flour, oats and 1½ cups white flour. Turn onto floured board and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional white flour, 1-2 tbsp at a time as needed. Form into a ball.
2d) Place dough in a greased bowl, rolling dough to coat with grease on all sides. Cover with tea towel and set aside in a draft free location to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in bulk.
2e) Proceed to step 3.
Bonus Recipe: Root Vegetable Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 sweet potato, roughly cubed
2 potatoes, roughly cubed
4 cups broth (I used leftover turkey stock)
juice of ½ lemon (or orange)
salt and pepper
3 leaves sage finely minced (optional)
1 green onion, minced (optional)
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery, stirring until beginning to soften.
2. Add parsnip, potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until tender.
3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until creamy (for a slightly coarser texture, use a hand blender)
4. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. For a sweeter soup, you might want to try orange juice instead of lemon.
5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped sage and green onion. Serve with the Nutty Oat Bread!