Monday, February 21, 2011

Oats + Sourdough making a comeback!

Lil and I have no shame in doing/buying/wearing the same things.  In fact, sometimes we go out of our way to do this... case in point: yesterday we went to Sephora to purchase the exact same makeup and the to Urban Outfitters and bought the same flannel dress.  In high school we had a tradition of buying a matching pair of flip flops every summer.  Whenever I discover a way that Lil does something differently than I might I make sure to state, "That's how we are different."  The instances where I use this phrase are few and far between but it's important to note them when they do come up just so that we remember that we are, in fact, different people.

It should come as no shock that we have baked the same loaf of bread on separate occasions.  Remember the Sourdough Oat Bread I made a while back?  The loaf of Oat Bread that Lil made most recently comes from the same cookbook (Good to the Grain) just without the sourdough kick.

In the repetition of baking those loves I noticed a pattern.  The oats were visible (little white flecks) but not detectable in terms of texture/taste.  They didn't bother me at all except aesthetically.  So, I thought why not try the recipe again and soak the oats before hand?  I put the cup of oats into about 1 1/2 cups water and let it be for about 5 hours.  Then, I proceeded with the recipe.  It was a delicate balance to find the right moisture level since I had the wet starter and the wet oats. In the end I got it.  Or so I thought...

But look.. No white oats visible in the bread.  Success!

They are only on the crust where I sprinkled them just before baking.  Beautiful.  Almost... see how the upper right side of the bread is sort of.  Um.  Droopy?  Yeah, droopy.  Welllllllll I don't know how to explain this except to say that my loaf pooped.

The side of the bread fell off and onto the stained oven stone below.  I have no idea why this happened. In the oven of all places?!  I would have thought if it would happen it would have fallen off during it's second rise.  My best guess is that the dough was still a bit too wet and fell off because it was too heavy.  

Regardless, this bread makes a great breakfast spread with peanut butter, jam, or avocado.  

Sourdough loves Oats (soaked).

Oh, and what became of the little dookie I found on the oven stone?  I ate it.

PS Lil and I are staging a comeback from our beginning of February blues.  The new Amazonian illuminating clay serum and flannel dresses are just the beginning.  Watch out.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you knead"

February has been a rough month thus far for Sar and I - I know, it's only the 3rd, but a lot can happen in 3 days.  The gist of it is that my beloved kitty cat that I've had since I was 4 (which means he's 20 years old) has kitty lymphoma and is not going to make it much longer.  Reality bites, as they say, and I'm pretty sad about it.  Poor Sar also had a trauma yesterday: one of her 7-year-old students accidentally shot a small toy into her open eye, which resulted in a pretty painful injury from which she is recovering - hopefully quickly.  Needless to say, we're a little depressed given our current circumstances.

Now, this post isn't going to be a sad one - I just wanted to give you some background into why this loaf needed (kneaded) to be particularly wonderful.  Sar and I probably couldn't take another disappointment.  Luckily, this was one of the most successful sandwich loaves I've baked - it's comforting to think how something as simple as a perfect loaf of bread can lift my spirits.  The 15 minutes of kneading was also a pretty great way to work out some feelings...and my triceps...just sayin'.

The recipe I used was my own adaptation of Allison and Son of White on Rice Couple's adaptation of Good to the Grain's Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Loaf.  I won't re-post the whole recipe, as Allison & Son do a great job of it on their blog, but I replaced the bread flour (of which we ran out a while ago) with a mixture of 1 cup light rye flour, 1 cup oatmeal flour, and 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten.  I didn't replace the full 2 1/2 cups since both of these flours are whole grain, and whole grains soak up more liquid than non-whole grain flours.  I did end up needing to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup all-purpose flour as I kneaded in order to get the dough to the right texture.  It worked out beautifully.

I made this loaf starting at 8pm, so you can imagine that the lighting in our kitchen was less-than-ideal for photography, so here are a very few, badly lit pictures:
Although it rose perfectly in the pan in under an hour, I was still not convinced that this was a good sign.  I've had a ton of loaves rise perfectly to this point, and then just stop rising entirely when they get put in the oven...

...but WOW did this guy rise.  I was so happy.

My mom will be happy to know that this turn of events reminded me of a song she would always sing to me when I was little and being particularly annoying and asking for a zillion things that I couldn't have: "You can't always get what you want" made it seem like the Rolling Stones had made a song just to give my mother ammo against my begging and pleading for extra TV time or whatever it was that I was begging for at the moment.  But they were right - "If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need".  I really needed a win, and this loaf was a definite winner.  Silly as that sounds.

The morning light was a bit better, so these pictures aren't quite as awful as the previous ones.  This bread toasts beautifully, makes a fabulous sandwich, and is all-around fantastic.  It was the perfect pick-me-up breakfast.

Here's to getting just what you need - big or small.