I love getting new recipe books from our local library. It gives me a chance to try out a book before I buy it and it’s an inexpensive way to try out recipes (excluding websites and blogs, of course). My latest temporary acquisition is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoe Francois. It’s full of delicious and healthy recipes that are easy to fit into a busy schedule and don’t require a bread machine.
I love that their recipes are more hands on than using a bread machine, but still very easy and don’t require kneading. All I had to do was head to Whole Foods to add a new ingredient to my pantry called vital wheat gluten. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, but I found it very inexpensive in the bulk section and I wanted to start with a small amount before buying a bag of it.
Most of the recipes in this book have minimal mess because if you have a large lidded plastic bucket, or food storage container you can just mix all the ingredients for the dough right in there with a spoon and then finish it by mixing it with your hands. Let it rest in the container and then slip it into the fridge for up to 10 days (depending on the recipe) and pull the dough out when you’re ready to bake. Preheat the oven and/or baking stone and put the bread into bake. It’s so easy!
A couple of weeks ago I made a free-form loaf from their master recipe and it turned out well. The bread had a nice nutty flavor and went great with jam. I had leftover dough from that batch and made some whole wheat caramel rolls that were also delicious.
This third recipe I tried was 100% Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread. How can you go wrong with a bread made with maple syrup, oatmeal and cinnamon? Of course there’s a bit more to it than that, but it is delicious. It has a light egg wash on top and a sprinkling of raw sugar that creates a lovely crust. A slice lightly toasted with peanut butter makes a great breakfast. You can also turn leftover dough into muffins. I usually halve the recipes in the book because my storage container is not quite big enough to hold most of the full recipes they provide.
Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Bread
Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast, or 1 packet
- 2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3/8 cup maple syrup
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water) for brushing the top crust
- Raw sugar for sprinkling on top
Mixing and storing the dough:
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a 2 1/2 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Add the liquid ingredients and mix with a spoon, without kneading. You might want to finish mixing with your hands to incorporate all of the flour.
Cover (not airtight) at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough rises and collapses (flattens on top). The dough can be used immediately after it rises, but it’s easier to handle when refrigerated. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use within 7 days.
On the day of baking:
Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the refrigerated dough with flour and pull it out of the container. Dust with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the dough around the bottom on each side, rotating as you go.
Pull the dough into an oval shape and put it into the loaf pan, it should fill about 3/4 of the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour 45 minutes (or 60 minutes if it was not refrigerated).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint on the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Put the loaf pan on the middle rack and bake for 45-50 minutes, until deep brown and firm. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.