Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Molasses Walnut Mini Loaves


This morning, my two little charges requested homemade bread for dinner. I'm not sure if they want homemade bread because they want to eat it, or if they simply just want to play around with the dough. I'm happy to indulge either activity. Mostly, I'm hopeful that they will have memories of kneading and stretching in the kitchen with their mother and that will help them forget the times when I am a frazzled housefrau. Bread baking doesn't require an immense amount of labor, but you do have to be around the house at the right moments.
Incidentally, this is isn't any old homemade bread. It's rich with molasses, studded with walnuts, and hearty with oats and whole wheat. If you are baking a special type of bread, like this one, you will be paying about a fourth of what you'd pay at the bakery. Today I'm baking the loaves in 6 disposable miniature loaf pans. Despite their "disposable" convenience, I reuse them over and over again. Making mini loaves means that we can share our healthful bread with the neighbors. If I've timed it right, we'll have hot homemade bread to eat with out supper tonight.

Molasses Walnut Whole Wheat Mini Loaves
Estimated Cost per 6 mini loaves: $2.75
1 cup boiling water
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup molasses
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active rise yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 cup chopped walnuts
a bit of butter and oats for the tops of the loaves

In a large bowl, combine water, oats, butter, salt, and molasses. Stir and set aside until warm, about 30 minutes. In a separate small bowl, proof yeast with water. (Basically, mix the two together and make sure the yeast has risen significantly after ten minutes. You can throw in a pinch of sugar for good measure.) Add yeast mixture, and flour a little at a time to molasses mixture. A free stand mixer with a dough hook is handy here, but not necessary. If you're making the bread by hand, stir in as much flour as you can, then remove the dough to a board and knead in the additional flour to form a smooth dough. When the dough is still slightly sticky, add in the walnuts. (I usually separate the dough at this point into two separate batches, since my children aren't nuts about nuts and I am. Oh, yes I am.)
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with saran wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 and 1/2 hours. Punch down dough, transfer to 6 lightly greased miniature loaf pans. (You can use 2 standard sized loaf pans; bake for one hour.) Let rise, covered for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans. Brush the loaves with butter and sprinkle with a bit of oats. This bread is at it's best warm with butter and honey.

1 comment:

kristen said...

I don't know if you will ever receive this comment, but I just made this bread dough and it seems SUPER dry, the mixer won't even catch all of the flour. Did I miss something, is there supposed to be more liquid?