Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oatmeal Bread: Take (insert large number here)

Hello out there to all of my Readers and Friends. I have been very quiet recently and I thought that I would give you all a bit of an update as I begin the next phase of my life.

As you all know, in June I graduated from Ohio State University with a Master's Degree in Nutrition. My life is currently in a bit of a state of "limbo" as I figure out what where I am going from here. As opportunities arise and the pieces of my personal "puzzle" take shape, I will keep you informed.

I have relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts and am currently back at "home" with my family. I put home in quotations because I strongly believe that home is where the heart is and it is also where I rest my head at night. For the purpose of this post, "home" represents the house that I grew up in and my family who has been my “rock” and has supported me unconditionally on my journey in life.

One of the exciting things about being home is my Mom's brand new kitchen. There are brand new marble counter tops, new cabinets and drawers and also a killer gas stove and gas-powered oven. To be honest, I have really never baked artisan bread in a gas-powered oven other than in the professional-grade hearth ovens. It is taking some getting use to, but so far, I cannot complain. Last week I made some Challah, in the form of Czech Christmas Bread, and this is my first "hearth style" bread.

I have to admit that I am no longer in possession of my baking stone. A few days prior to my move back east, I gave my stone to two of the most loved people in my life: Caryn and Brandon. They are a couple that spends a large amount of their time cooking and eating foodie food. In the previous ten months, I have spent many hours working with Caryn giving her a foundation in bread baking. I felt very strongly that my stone, which is currently in four pieces, would be put to good use in her kitchen. Deep down, I knew that Caryn would give my stone a good home. So, this post marks a bittersweet occasion. I bid farewell to you Mr. Stone, and I know that you will be welcomed in your new kitchen where I know that you will be treated well and will be put to good use. (I instructed Mr. Stone that if he is not used once every thirty days that he has my permission to break into even smaller pieces.)

I also have to give a shout out to the world's best chiropractor, Dan, for giving me the wonderful bread pans that I used to bake today's bread. These pans are well made and are of solid construction. They are even pleasing to the eye. I was very pleased with this gift and with their performance today. Once again, thank You Dan.

Now, let's talk about bread. I know that I have posted on this one before, but what can I say? This bread is what you might call a keeper!

This bread is straight dough. Yes folks, no preferment, and still it is one of my favorites. I am a poolish kind of guy, but when this bread is made with a poolish, its texture is compromised. I have tried it several ways, with different levels of preferment and at different hydration percent. You should know by now that I love tinkering with recipes and I try all sorts of things. However, on this bread, I stuck with the basic formula and recipe. One of my motivations for not messing with this bread is that I have a lot riding on this loaf. I am giving this bread to my girlfriend Kelly’s family, whom I have not yet met, but I am excited to meet them all (most of them) tonight. I am hoping that this bread meets their expectations and lives up to my reputation. In fact, her family has coined me "Bread Boy". I cannot lie, I love the name.

This bread is 25% whole wheat and it calls for high gluten flour. If you make this bread, be sure that you use flour that has a good amount of protein in it. I use King Arthur Bread Flour and not the silly artisan flour that is so over-priced. The basic King Arthur Flour is actually high gluten flour so that is what I used. This bread also contains some additional ingredients including milk, honey, and vegetable oil. My only "compromise" is that I used soymilk instead of regular milk.

My Mom keeps a kosher kitchen. Because I am working out of my Mom's kitchen, I have koshered my mixer to be pareve (neutral; not milk or meat) so I had to use non-dairy ingredients. I have actually been meaning to make this bread with butter in place of the oil, but I have not gotten around to it yet. I will have to try that one soon. I am finding that I have some new tasters that have offered their services. I will miss my old taste testers (Brett, Caryn, Brandon, Allison, Marla, Susie, Kathy and Jill) but not to worry: Their memory will live on.

"Sometimes we live in no particular way of our own

Sometimes we visit your country and live in your home
Sometimes we ride your horses and sometimes we walk alone
Sometimes the song that we hear is just the song of our own" 

I am not going to repeat the baking of this bread because I have blogged about it in detail already. What I will do is tell you that this bread needs to be baked by as many people as are willing! It is a wonder that it does not contain a preferment. It is one of my all-time favorites, and I do not favor things lightly.
It's been great sharing with you again.

Bake on
Alias: "Bread Boy"

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