Whenever I have a day-long baking project, or bake multiple things, I always (okay, often) think of Ma – Caroline – and her baking days. And washing days. And ironing days. I can’t remember all of them, and I still haven’t gotten around to stealing the boxed set of Little House books from my parents’ house, but you get the idea. Each domestic activity has its day.

Most chores aren’t so time consuming these days, which I’m certainly grateful for, but every once in a while it’s nice to do something which requires a time commitment. Ten minutes of kneading by hand. An hour to rise. Another hour to rise. Baking time. I wouldn’t necessarily want to go through that for every loaf of bread I consume, but I want to do it more often. I want to be a person who bakes bread. Today I’m using it to fight the blahs, and it’s working pretty well, along with a quick walk during one of the risings. It’s about to go into the oven, and now I feel like I’ll have something to show for my day – two loaves of Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread.  It’s also a good excuse for cranking up the heat – it’s not for me, it’s for the bread!

From the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion:

Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread

makes two sandwich loaves

  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups (18-20 ounces) boiling water
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 oz) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (2 3/4 oz) maple sugar or brown sugar (4 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavor (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) butter (I used canola margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 3/4 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups (17 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, maple sugar, maple flavor, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead (about 10 minutes by hand, 5-7 by machine) until the dough is smooth and satiny. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for 1 hour; it should double in bulk.

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch bread pans. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the loaves to rise until they’ve crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes. Remove them from the oven when they’re golden brown and the interior registers 190 F on an instant-read thermometer. (I don’t have a thermometer – I’ll have to use the old-fashioned tap method – should sound hollow when tapped.)

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