Baking bread is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. I just love the whole process, kneading together a handful of individual ingredients and turning them into this live creature that rises and grows before your eyes. Tame it through shaping into loaves, and then into the oven for its final transformation where it becomes your desired creation. It is one of the most satisfying tasks in the kitchen. Pulling out those final loaves, and seeing what you've been able to do with a few simple ingredients, some time and heat is simply amazing.
These loaves are my most recent creation. I found the recipe online and for whatever reason it sounded so perfectly delicious that I had to give it a try. This whole wheat and oat sandwich loaf, slightly sweetened with honey and filled with roasted nuts and dried fruit called my name, I simply had to try it. It turned out a couple very large and beautiful loaves that have been perfect for a variety of sandwiches, a hearty snack and a healthy breakfast.
One of my favorite quick and easy lunches in the past week has been a gourmet peanut butter sandwich with mashed banana and sliced strawberries. Add a drizzle of honey for a little extra sweetness and lunch is served, simple and delicious. It almost feels like eating dessert for lunch. I've also made a variety of other different sandwiches including an heirloom tomato BLT and a grilled vegetable and hummus sandwich with feta. So whatever type of sandwich is calling your name, this bread will get the job done.
Oat Bread with Dried Fruit and Almonds
Adapted from A Shaggy Dough Story
200g Dried Fruit (I used a mix of prunes and frozen cranberries instead of dried, just because I had them, and it turned out fine)
161g Whole Wheat Flour
130g Rolled Oats
403g Water (I used the reserved water from soaking the fruit and made up the difference with fresh water)
484g Bread Flour
48g Vegetable Oil
4g Instant Yeast
130g Toasted Almonds (or whatever you have, walnuts, pecans, etc)
Additional Rolled Oats for coating loaves
Put dried fruit in a heat-proof bowl, add enough boiling water to cover and let sit for about an hour. Drain, reserving water, and let cool.
Put whole wheat flour and rolled oats in the bowl of a mixer, add the reserved soaking liquid (adding fresh water to make up the difference) and stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Add bread flour, milk, honey, oil, salt and yeast to the oat mixture. Using the dough hook of your mixer, blend on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium for about 7 minutes. Add the soaked, drained fruit and the pecans and mix on low speed until combined (it took a little bit of time to make sure they were fully incorporated).
Place the dough in a large bowl or container with oil that's been lightly coated with oil. Cover and let rest. After one hour, uncover the dough and fold, then cover and let rest for another hour.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two rounds. Cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes. Lightly butter or oil two 9-inch loaf pans. Uncover and lightly flour your work surface, if needed. Degas each dough round and shape into a loaf. Place loaves seam side down in the prepared pans. Lightly mist each loaf with water and them cover with oats, if desired. Cover with plastic and proof for about 90 minutes.
Place a steam pan in the bottom of your oven and preheat to 450°. At baking time, uncover the loaf pans, place in the oven and immediately add about 1 cup of ice to the pan to create steam. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400° and bake for another 30 minutes or until golden brown (cover them with foil if they start browning too soon). Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.