I try and bake a couple of loaves of hearty, whole grain bread at least once a month, and I often slice one loaf and freeze the other to enjoy later. I am presently am enamored with oat flour, so wanted to incorporate it into my bread as well as some oats, raisins and walnuts. Oat flour adds flavor, texture, fiber and nutrition to anything you bake and I often substitute at least half regular flour for oat flour in many recipes. This works best for more rustic baked goods like muffins or quick breads, not finely textured cakes or cupcakes. I can now buy oat flour in the organic section of most grocery stores, or health food stores, but if you have difficulty finding it, simply make your own. Place regular oats in a food processor or blender and process until powdery.
We love to enjoy a slice of this bread lightly toasted with a drizzle of honey for breakfast, or along with some fruit and sharp for lunch. In place of the raisins you could use other dried fruit such as cranberries or apricots, and you could use almonds or hazelnuts in place of the walnuts. It is best to make the starter or biga the night before you plan to bake the bread. A crisp crust is also important to us, so I add a container with boiling water in my oven which keeps the exterior of the bread moist, creating a crisper crust. If you prefer a softer crust, simply skip this step. The one tip I learned when baking bread is that using a thermometer to take the internal temperature always ensures the bread is cooked properly. The bread should be above 190 degrees F.
Deborah Mele 2013
- 1/2 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Cup Lukewarm water
- 2 Cups Unbleached, All-purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Regular Oats Plus 1/4 Cup For Dusting Bread For Baking
- 2 Cups Oat Flour
- 2 Cups Bread Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 1/2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast
- 1 Recipe Biga Above
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Cups Lightly Toasted Walnuts
- 1 Cup Golden Raisins
- 2 1/2 Cups Warm Water (Approximate)
- For the biga, Mix the yeast and water together, and then slowly start adding the flour, mixing well.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, in a large bowl, mix together the flours, oats, yeast, and salt.
- Add the biga, olive oil, raisins, and walnuts, and 2 cups of water and stir with a wooden spoon (or mix with your hands) until everything is mixed.
- Add as much additional water as is needed to create a dough that comes together.
- The dough will be fairly wet and sticky at this point.
- Cover and let stand in a warm spot for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in volume.
- Turn out your dough onto a floured baking sheet, and without overworking it too much shape into two round or oval shaped loaves, using as much extra flour as needed to keep it from sticking.
- Place loaves on two baking sheets dusted with cornmeal and cover with clean kitchen towels.
- Let bread rise another 30 minutes or until almost doubled.
- Slash across the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife or razor just prior to baking.
- Brush your loaves with water and sprinkle with the reserved rolled oats.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and place a casserole dish with boiling water on the lower oven rack.
- Bake your bread 20 minutes, turn the baking sheet around, and bake until the internal temperature of the bread is 195 degrees F.
- At this point your bread should be golden brown and should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
- Allow the bread to cool to room temperature before slicing.