Saturday, January 31, 2009

Maple Oatmeal Bread

I don’t think that I will ever be warm again… oh, yes, I know how silly that statement really is. In about 5 months I will be sitting at this same laptop, but positioned under a ceiling fan on the back porch, trying to catch a cool evening breeze. But now it’s late January. We have had snow and bitter cold and ice accumulation for weeks, and it just feels so damp and chilly.

I am dying to get outside and run. I miss my trails, but they are under snow, so I have to be content with the exercise bike and occasional forays outdoors to carefully walk around the patios and sidewalks which are now ice-skating rinks. I discovered that there is a layer of ice on top of the grass in the yard which is revealed either when the sun happens to peek through and melt a bit of the snowy layer on top, or when I take a step into the "safe" grassy area and my feet shoot out from under me.

Today Spooky came out with me since it wasn’t snowing and actually reached 27 degrees. I’ve been keeping a “trail” around the patio shoveled and de-iced for him, which probably sounds weird, but Spooky likes to go out. If he doesn’t get some form of activity every day or two, he follows me around all day, giving me huge Spooky-eyes until I stop what I’m doing and spend 15 or 20 minutes playing. We play chase-the-feather (peacock feather on a string), pounce-on-the-snake (a long boot string), and something’s-coming-up-from-the-basement. About that last game, I swear that someday I’m going to misstep and tumble down those stairs and break another bone… But it keeps Spoo occupied and active. He’s so spoiled. :)

Because we went outside for a while today and walked around, he’s napping on the radiator. I must have spent some energy, too, because I’m not sleepy, just hungry. Dinner isn’t for a few hours, so I’m going to toast a piece of maple oatmeal bread and make a cup of tea. Sounds about perfect.

I found the recipe at Laura’s site a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to try it. Then I made this bread for the second time last weekend and I have to say that it is one of the best bread recipes I’ve tried in a while. This second effort yielded even better results. I only made two changes to the original recipe. I increased the water and added oat bran, and I decreased the amount of maple syrup and added some maple extract. The reason for the latter change is purely economic—“real” maple syrup is incredibly expensive. I couldn’t notice a discernable difference between the original recipe’s amounts and this substitute.

There is something wonderful about the smell of toasting bread, but add a subtle whiff of maple, and it’s heavenly.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Maple Oatmeal Bread

Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

Makes 2 loaves

24 servings

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

3 cups boiling water

1 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup oat bran

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon maple extract

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour -- (white whole wheat preferred)

3 1/4 cups bread flour -- plus 3/4 to 1 cup additional

Mix the oats and oat bran in a large mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over and stir. Allow to sit for 30-45 minutes. Add the maple syrup, extract, salt, and olive oil and stir. Let sit until mixture cools to lukewarm (about a half hour). Add the dry yeast and mix well. Add the whole wheat flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

While the mixer is running, add the bread flour slowly until thoroughly combined. Scrape sides and beater, cover with a towel, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Switch the flat beater to a dough hook and mix in enough additional bread flour so that the dough clears the side of the bowl and forms a ball around the hook. Knead for 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, turn to oil the top of the dough ball, and cover with plastic. Allow to rise for an hour, or until doubled.

Divide the dough in half and form each into a log. Place each in a greased 1 pound loaf pan (8" x 4"), cover with plastic, and allow to rise above the edge of the pan (about 45 minutes).

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, rotating pans from front to back halfway through. The bread is done when the bottom is deep golden brown, sounds hollow when the bottom crust it tapped with fingers, and/ or reaches an internal temperature of 200F. Remove loaves from the pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before serving.


"2 loaves"

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Per serving: 140 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (12% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 180mg Sodium; Fiber 2g

Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

'Bye January!

Welcome February. Now you get the heck over with, too.