On Saturday the Houge Four returned from a week at Outlaw Ranch near South Dakota. It was spectacular as always. Great folks, great conversations, great music and songwriting sessions… A stellar week. (Sidenote: If your family is looking for a great vacation next summer, check out family camp at Outlaw!)
One of the beautiful things that happens at camp is that someone else cooks for you. And they do it well! If I had a camp name it’d be “Seconds.” ’Cause who doesn’t like seconds? Coming back from all that love – I mean food – is there a difference? – and inspired by a couple great conversations on homemade bread and pizza I decided to do some baking yesterday and brushed off this recipe for Oatmeal Molasses Bread. The beauty of molasses is that it makes your bread dark. And when your bread is dark people assume it’s healthier and that you’re a better person for it. Then you go and sprinkle oatmeal on top. Seals the deal. Bonafide whole grain huggin’ hippy you are. Fooled ‘em all. It’s white bread gone brown due to all the sugar. And it’s killer toasted with raspberry jam and a slice of sharp cheddar.
OATMEAL MOLASSES BREAD
2 cups warm water
6-8 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast (one packet)
1 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup dry milk
1 Tbl salt
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl honey
3 Tbl molasses
Whisk 2 cups warm water, 2 cups bread flour, and yeast in large mixing bowl. Cover (I use a plastic bag) and rest for an hour. At this time set out eggs so that they come to room temperature. After an hour, add oatmeal, dry milk, salt, olive oil, honey, molasses and eggs and mix well with a big spoon. Begin adding flour 1 cup at a time. When you get to six, be careful not to add too much. I like to use to mix with a spoon as long as possible and then dump the gloppy mess on to the counter and begin kneading it. You want the final dough to be on the wet side – just barely sticky. Knead it for 5 minutes or so. The wetter the dough the less kneading needed.
Oil up that bowl, put the dough in, stick a bag on top (retains moisture better than a towel), and let it rise till doubled.
Doubled already? Sweet. Now divide the dough in two equal parts, you egalitarian hippy you. Form two balls of dough and place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with oatmeal if you want to look cool and make friends. Give them space. (The balls of dough, not your cool new friends. If they’re really cool, space won’t be an issue.) Cover with a towel. (Again, the balls of dough.)
Let these soon to be devoured boules (Now that you’re making friends we’ll move beyond terms like ‘balls of dough’) hang out for about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes into that time preheat your oven to 375 F. Spoiler alert: If you’re going to throw ice into your oven later you should slide another baking sheet on the bottom of your oven now.
The boules look ripe? The oven is hot? Shazaam. Use a razor blade and slash the top of your loaves so that they can blow up a bit when they get into that hot oven. (That’s a little thing bakers call Oven Spring, or in the case of Amish Friendship bread: Ovenspringa.) Right after I put the loaves in I also throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of our oven to up the steam factor which in turn ups the chew factor. Yum. (If you’re baking something with less sugar in it and you’re at 450 0r so the steam also gives you a killer crust. At the temperatures we’re using for OatMol it seems to have less of that effect. That’s my experience. Yours may differ. I honor your story. Let’s move on.)
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Then take the loaves off the baking sheet and place directly on the oven rack. Reduce heat to 325 and bake for another 15 minutes.
With your cool friends.