Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Soft Honey Oats Bread

Bread, my love in baking, can lift my mood anytime of the day and I do not even mind baking one at midnight! I have heard and seen people exclaiming about excellent midnight baking experiences though I am yet to experience that exhilarating moment, at least until my baby grows up and stops sleeping on me. All said and done, whether midnight or mid-afternoon, baking always gives me a high and I really hope someday I can take it up professionally. Until then, here is a simple soft Honey Oats Bread which is good enough to give your local bakeries a run for their money!!

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup oats toasted and milled (you can use any variety of oats here; I used rolled oats)
1 tsp salt (increase to 1 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
2 tbsp butter
250 ml warm milk
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 tsp instant active dry yeast
A dash of olive oil (for oiling the bowl and, if required, your hands while kneading)

For the topping
1 tbsp warm honey
Oats for sprinkling

In a medium sized bowl, warm the milk and melt the butter. To this, add honey and mix. When the mixture is just warm, dissolve the yeast and let it stand for 10 minutes until frothy. It is generally said that instant yeast does not need to be proofed but I like to follow this process just to be doubly sure.
In another bowl, mix the flour, milled oats, and salt. Slowly add the yeast mixture and stir with a spatula until all combined. You can also use an electric hand mixer with the dough attachment to ease the process. Once all combined, start kneading the dough with your hands. It will be extremely sticky and hard to handle at first. However, do not get deterred and continue kneading and by around 10 minutes you will have a super elastic soft and smooth dough. You can however lightly grease your hands to help you kneading. Oil the bowl as well as the dough from outside and cover with a clingwrap and keep in a warm place to rise. Be sure the bowl is big enough for the dough to rise. My dough completely overflowed!

Once the first proofing is done and the dough has beautifully doubled in size within about an hour, take the dough out and punch it down. Now place the dough on a parchment paper and spread it out with your hands in a square/rectangular shape.
Fold in the sides and form a log.
Now gently push in the two ends towards the center reducing its length bringing it to the size of the loaf tin. Place the dough alongwith the parchment paper and place it back in the warm place for the second rise, again about an hour or until doubled.
Towards the end of the second proofing, start pre-heating the oven at 180 degree celsius. Keep an empty loaf tin with 2 cups of water in the oven while pre-heating. Meanwhile, take the dough out and brush the top with warm honey and sprinkle oats generously on top, gently pressing it down with your hands. 
Now bake in the pre-heated oven for 40-50 minutes until beautifully browned on top and a tap on the bread sounds hollow. Remove from oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

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