I am not a baker. I don’t have a lot of patience for the exact ratios and limited spontaniety involved in baking. I’ve tried a few yeast bread recipes in the past, only to be massively disappointed. After more than one experience of filling my house with the aroma of home baked bread but ending up with something that has no other use than to prop open a door, I almost gave up.
I have Heidi Swanson to thank for this Easy Little Bread recipe, which is adapted from Natalie Oldfield’s Gran’s Kitchen. It’s not the most beautiful-looking loaf of bread but it’s crumbly, a bit dense, and perfect for dipping in soup or smeared with fresh butter. Heidi very thoughtfully provides metric and weight ratios, which really matter in bread baking–you can see the differences in weight between a cup of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and rolled oats below:
1 1/4 cups or 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 tsp active dry yeast (one packet, I used Red Star yeast)
1 Tbsp runny honey
1 cup or 4.5 oz or 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup or 5 oz or 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup or 3.5 oz or 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
2 Tbsp melted butter for brushing
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for 5 – 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet yeast mixture to the dry and stir very well.
Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Put the dough, which will be thick but not kneadable, into your prepared pan then cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth. Set in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise; the dough will approximately double in size. Because getting dough to rise can be a challenge in chilly Seattle, I put my toaster oven on low and set the pan on top of it.
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Heidi recommends that you put the bread under the broiler for just a few minutes to give the top a deeper color, and I like the end result from doing this final step. Remove your bread from the oven and turn it out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm and thank the bread gods for finally lifting the brick-bread curse.