Cookbook

Best Bread in the World :rectnt

Best Bread in the World

I hope it's not sacrilegious to say this, but with this bread baking in the oven this evening, my kitchen smelled divine! Although I was not the one who named this The Best Bread in the World (that was what it was called in the cookbook; honest!), this bread certainly is a top contender for that position! It's a recipe I've treasured for 30 years or more, from one of the first cookbooks in my collection (see source below). I used to make it with part whole wheat and part bread flour according to the original recipe, but I will note my whole grain variation (with directions for kneading in a KitchenAid) in the Parting Comments. - LuAnn

Yield: 2 (1 1/2 pounds each) loaves

Ingredients:

Bread:
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup honey
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup lukewarm water (105F to 115F)
2 packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour

Topping (optional):
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
Sesame seeds

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, boiling water, salt, honey and butter; let stand until the oats are thoroughly softened; set aside to cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the lukewarm water and yeast; let stand until the yeast is dissolved and bubbly (about 5 minutes).
Stir into the cooled oatmeal mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the flours to make a soft dough.
Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour.
Turn the dough out onto the floured surface; knead in as much of the remaining flour as needed, working until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
Wash and dry the large bowl.
Lightly spray with non-stick vegetable oil coating; place the dough in the bowl, turning to grease the top.
Cover with a clean towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about one hour).
Meanwhile, lightly spray two large bread pans with non-stick vegetable oil coating; set aside.
When the dough has doubled, punch down; turn out again onto the floured surface.
Divide into two equal halves.
Shape each into a loaf; place into the pans.
Cover with the towel; let rise again until the bread fills the pans and just begins to round above the tops of the pans.
When the loaves are almost ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
If applying the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water.
Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of each loaf with the egg mixture.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. (If browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil for the last few minutes).
Immediately after baking, remove the loaves from the pans to cool on wire racks.


LuAnn's Whole Grain Variation AND my streamlined directions:
I simply combine the oatmeal, water (increasing amount to 2 1/3 cups), salt, honey and butter or margarine in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then remove from the stove to cool.
Since I use instant yeast, I skip dissolving the yeast (and added the 1/3 cup of water to the 2 cups in the saucepan).
Meanwhile, directly into the mixing bowl of my KitchenAid, I measure 4 cups of 100% whole wheat flour (setting aside an extra 1/2 cup or so to add if needed), 4 1/2 teaspoons of instant yeast and also add 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten, then run the mixer on low just for a few moments to combine.
When the oatmeal mixture has cooled to 120F or below, I add it to the mixing bowl, then knead with the dough hook attachment for 4 minutes, adding just enough flour, if needed, to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the pan.
I then rise and bake as directed, except to save time, sometimes I just divide the two portions of dough into round "artisan-style" loaves, rather than conventional loaves, and place them, well-separated to allow room for expansion, on a large baking sheet.
Before beginning the second rise, if I have made round loaves, I cut three slits across the top of each loaf, about 1/4 inch deep and about 1 inch apart.
Baking time for the round loaves may be slightly less.

Variation by LuAnn Bermeo. (Sometime, I should write it up into a proper recipe)! :)

Source: Adapted from The Saturday Evening Post Fiber and Bran Better Health Cookbook (1977) by LuAnn Bermeo, author of Amazing Meals I and II. Whole Grain Variation by LuAnn Bermeo; recipe posted by LuAnn for KRT.

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