Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Staff o' life

I'm trying a new no-knead bread recipe today, a maple oat bran concoction of my own devising. I began branching out with different combinations of flours and different types of sugars a couple of months ago, once I'd mastered the no-knead technique, which, frankly, was made for me. Being as how it is so uncomplicated, a mallard duck could turn out a nice loaf if it didn't have that unfortunate tendency to get feathers in the dough.

Kayte's friend Glynnis is the person I bow to when it comes to success with no-knead bread: she was the one who told Kayte, who then told me, that the no-knead bread recipes found in the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day were non-starters, not only because the yeast amount listed in each recipe is inadequate, but also because the brioche is the only recipe that includes sugar. Sugar, as it happens, is a necessary ingredient in yeast bread because it gives the yeast something to feed on, which makes the bread rise.

I've baked probably a hundred loaves of bread since that info came to me this summer and I've had success with every one of them. Some of them I bake in my cast iron Dutch oven in the traditional boule shape with a big X cut into the top; I've also made loaves in a regular loaf pan, adding a cup of hot water to a reservoir pan in the bottom of the oven. Both the Dutch oven's lid and the water in the reservoir pan create a necessary ingredient to light yeast bread, which is steam. Every loaf so far has come out of the oven light, high and goldeny-brown; the house smells comforting and cozy, and we've never eaten such sandwiches in our lives.

So today is a new experiment - I'm using a combination of white flour and ground oat bran, which is really supposed to be a breakfast cereal, but it's so fun to try different things and work with the textures and tastes. I started adding four tablespoons of soft butter to each big batch of dough back in August when we realized that we prefer bread with a tender crust for our breakfast toast and luncheon turkey-and-cranberry jelly. I added milk a few times, but we all felt that made the bread a bit bland.

My new thing this time is the substitution of two tablespoons of pure maple syrup instead of two tablespoons of sugar. I don't see why it wouldn't work, and that faint maple flavor to the loaf is sure to be a crowd pleaser with both turkey and ham.

I throw all the ingredients into my big, inverted Rubbermaid cake carrier, give them a stirring with a wooden spoon, and set the whole thing aside to do the initial three hour rising. It's three hours now instead of summertime's two hours because the house is cooler. To insulate the rising dough a little more, I put the cake carrier with the lid lightly laid on inside the oven with the door slightly ajar so that the light comes on to warm the interior just a teeny bit.

I'll be baking a loaf when I get Meelyn home from work and Aisling home from piano later this afternoon. I hope it turns out nicely. And by the way - that picture up there? That is not my bread.

UPDATE: The bread is very, very tasty. I'm so excited! The oat bran gave it a very rustic, peasanty crumb texture, and for some reason, the crust didn't turn golden - more like a light brown. The girls are very pleased with it and so am I.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Ok, this post made me feel inadequate and hungry! You're lucky I like you, otherwise you might have scare me off!