Breakfast in Bread

My family does not have a tradition of breakfast in bed.  I don’t remember ever having been served one myself, and if I have, I probably jumped right up and ate at the table.  No use getting crumbs in the sheets I’ll have to wash.  Harrumph!

When I make oatmeal for breakfast, my eyes are always bigger than my stomach.  I usually end up with about a cup of leftover porridge that becomes a semi-solid raisin-studded paste in the pot.

Yesterday was no exception, but I decided to do something about it.  Waste not, want not.  I also had to redeem my last two failed bread-making adventures, which showed definitively that my yeast was entirely dead.

Yeast is, of course, a living organism.  Drying it into a powder and putting it into a packet or jar puts the organisms into a state of suspended animation until you re-hydrate and feed them.  You can extend the life of your yeast by storing it in the freezer, but it won’t live forever.  Toss it after a year’s time and start fresh.

So, I picked up a jar of Red Star the other day and with the oatmeal, decided bread was on the agenda again.  I added about a cup of milk to the leftover oatmeal and warmed it over low heat–just enough to melt the tablespoon or so of butter also added.

In my bread bowl, about a quarter cup of water and a teensy sprinkle of sugar to feed the couple teaspoons of yeast mixed in.

When the oatmeal was warmed, I added a bit of honey and a sprinkle of salt.  Then it all went into the bread bowl along with a cup of flour.  I beat that well, and kept adding and beating in flour ’til it pulled away from the bowl, then turned out on the counter and kneaded well, adding more flour until I had a slightly sticky but workable dough.

Oatmeal bread dough tends to be a bit stickier to work with than plain wheat flour dough.  If you add too much flour, you get a dry loaf.

Then it went back in the (now clean and buttered) bowl to rise until about doubled in size, then I punched it down, kneaded out the bubbles, and put it in a large lightly greased bread pan to double again.

Always cover your dough with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.  Except when you put it in the oven to bake.

Baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes (I had to add time twice–it took most of an hour to bake), the loaf was a redemption.  Moist, well-risen, and yummy.  Yes, I can still make a decent loaf!

I started all this at about 7 or 8 last night, which meant my breakfast loaf came out of the oven near 11pm.  It seemed wrong to go to bed without having at least one slice–so I waited a few more minutes for it to cool and had the warm end crust as a nearly-midnight snack.

And then I cut one more piece before hitting the hay and leaving the rest for this morning’s and the rest of the week’s breakfasts.

That piece was partly for the dog, who always gets to share the first bites of my homemade loaves.  That’s our family tradition.


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