Makes great toast. Makes great sandwiches. Especially when toasted. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
one good-sized loaf
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 cup multi-grain flake cereal (preferably organic, and not too sweet)
¼ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons honey
3 – 3 ½ cups bread flour, divided
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Olive oil for coating the bowl and brushing the bread
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (You can do this easily in the microwave.)
2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary leaves (one or two four-inch branches)
In This Recipe
Put the yeast, ½ cup of warm water and sugar in a bowl. ( The water should be no hotter than 115 degrees Fahrenheit . . . use a thermometer to check, if you’re not sure.) Let it sit for a minute or so, then stir it gently with a spoon. Set it aside.
Finely chop the rosemary with the salt. This will keep those resinous little leaves from sticking so tenaciously to your knife blade, plus, this enables you to put a lot more of the flavorful oils of the fresh rosemary into the bread.
(Before we get into a whole lot of detail about how to make this bread, please see the note below about kneading. You don't need to mix or knead this dough by hand, if you don't want to do so.) In the bottom of a large bowl, put the cereal flakes. Crush them very lightly; don’t worry if you have some whole flakes.
Pour ½ cup of boiling water over them and, using a sturdy, flat backed wooden spoon, stir a few times. Add the butter, the honey, the whole milk and the salt, and stir a bit more.
Add one cup of flour and stir well. Add another half cup of flour and stir, then add the yeast mixture and beat the mixture until the ingredients are combined. Beat a few more times for good measure. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for at least 25 minutes.
Put the remaining half cup of measured flour onto your work surface, near the dough. Turn the dough over, put a bit of flour on each hand, and start to knead in earnest. If the dough sticks to the work surface (meaning that it holds tight and stretches to stay put), use a bench scraper to pull that dough up; then use the scraper to pull over no more than a tablespoon of flour at a time onto the surface where you are kneading, and continue.
Resist the temptation to add more flour; add only a teaspoon or two at most at a time once the dough has come together and is starting to look and feel smoother and more elastic. Kneading time should take, all told, about 10-12 minutes.
Let the dough sit while you prepare the bowl and rising area. (See note below for some suggestions about that.) Wash and dry the bowl you used to start the dough. Put about a teaspoon and a half of olive oil in the bottom of it. Put the dough in, turn it over, cover with a damp tea towel and let rise for an hour to an hour and a half.
When the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and gently shape it into a loaf, or boule, whichever you prefer. (Please see the notes below for more information on how I use a clay pot for baking loaves.)
Let the shaped dough rise again. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 325 for a convection, if that’s what your oven manufacturer recommends. When the loaf has increased by about 70%, put it in the bottom third of your oven and bake for 50 minutes. If the crust appears to be getting too dark after about thirty minutes, lightly cover with foil. (Breads with milk and butter in them tend to darken more quickly than others, especially in ultra-efficient convection ovens.)
The bread is ready when it makes a hollow sound when the bottom is tapped.
Let it sit for at least an hour before slicing. The wait will be difficult, I know, but it'’ will be worth it.
A Note about Rising: Your microwave is draft free. If you can fit your bread bowl in it, prepare it by warming it slightly and introducing some warm moisture, which will help the bread rise. To do this, put a few tablespoons of water in a small cup or jar into the microwave and turn it on high for two minutes. Instruct members of your household, in no uncertain terms, that if they need to use the microwave while the bread is rising, they are to gently remove the dough and then to replace it, gently, shutting the door, gently, when they are done using the microwave.
Using a Clay Pot for Baking: Clay pots are nice to use for bread making because the clay absorbs water, when filled beforehand, which then is released into the oven, giving the bread a nice crust. You can’'t put a cold clay pot into a hot oven, however, so after shaping the dough, put it on some parchment to rise. Fill up the clay pot about ¾ with water and put it into the oven; then, turn it on to 325 degrees Fahrenheit to let it warm up with the oven. If your clay pot has a lid (and most roasting clay pots do), fill that will water, too, and put it in the oven. When the bread is ready to go into the oven, dump the hot water out of the bottom half of the clay pot, then put the dough and parchment into the bread pan and bake as directed. Leave the water-filled top of the clay pot in the oven while baking.
A Note about Kneading: This dough does not necessarily have to be kneaded by hand, if you have another method that you prefer, and are able to make adjustments accordingly. I happen to like stirring and kneading, because I rely on my hands to tell me when the correct amount of flour has been added. Plus, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of using your own hands to turn a shaggy, floury mass of not-quite combined ingredients into the most glorious, smooth, shiny and supple ball of dough. I do some of my best thinking while kneading, too.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)