World Bread Day premiered in 2006 with a bang and 113 delicious entries. The event was such a success that this year the illustrious host Zorra offered bloggers another opportunity to celebrate beautiful breads and share them with everyone. I missed my chance last year as I was in the post-partum recovery and no sleep period, thus baking bread was the furthest thing from my mind, but I promised myself I would not miss it this year. But guess what? I nearly missed it! I just baked my bread this morning! In the midst of a clogged head fog and Michael being gone, I had completely forgotten until last night around 10pm. Experience has shown that I should not attempt baking projects late at night, so I waited until this morning to tackle the bread.
I’ve had Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads (1995 edition) on my shelf for about eight years now, and I’ve lost track of how many different breads we’ve tried and enjoyed from his book, but in honor of World Bread Day 2007 I felt I should choose something that I have not tried before. Truthfully I can’t believe that I’ve not made this particular bread before, especially since it has one of my little Post-It flags and it has cinnamon in it. So today I have rectified this situation by making Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread, which is actually a contribution from one of Clayton’s first readers in Austin, Texas.
The story goes that Clayton sent a loaf of his California sourdough to an editor at Simon & Schuster along with an introductory letter. The loaf sealed the deal and he got his first book. The first edition of The Complete Book of Breads was published in 1973, and it has since gone through multiple revisions and updates, most recently in 2006.
Clayton’s recipes are characterized by a strong attention to detail, including separate directions for different mixing and kneading methods (hand, mixer, or food processor). I don’t use a food processor for yeast doughs, but I waffle back and forth on mixing and kneading with a stand mixer or by hand, and quite honestly available time determines my choice on most days. If I’m in a hurry, I let the mixer do the work, but if I have a little extra time or just want a little kneading therapy, I work the dough by hand. My adaptation of the recipe just is written for the mixer method, but you can easily modify it for hand mixing by using a wooden spoon.
The recipe starts off in an interesting way, by making a bowl of oatmeal using the first seven ingredients. You could add just a little more water and have a nice breakfast, but then you would miss out on this delicious bread, so go ahead and add the yeast, eggs, and flour. The dough is soft and elastic and requires about one hour to rise. Our house was pretty cool this morning, so I had to use the oven as a proofing box, and it still took 90+ minutes to double the dough. Also, the temperature of the ingredients was probably a factor in my rising issues today because 1) I forgot to set out the yeast and eggs first thing so that they would come to room temperature, and 2) I was distracted with the kids while preparing the oatmeal mixture and it cooled to about 100° F before I had a chance to do anything with it. So today I relearned the lesson that temperature is everything in baking! Hopefully someday I will no longer have to relearn that lesson.
Once the dough rose, it looked very pretty with the raisins and felt very soft as I shaped it into a rectangle. The butter, sugar, and cinnamon went into the middle, then I rolled it up jellyroll style and put it into the pans for another rise. I have to confess that I fudged on the butter, sugar, and cinnamon measurements because I had multiple child distractions during that time, and I found myself sprinkling handfuls of sugar around and shaking cinnamon right out of the jar. I realized just how distracted I was when I rolled up the first loaf from the long side instead of the short side. I had to undo it and reroll, leaving butter, sugar, and cinnamon exposed on one end. It looked odd and I hoped the exposed sugar would not burn when baking.
Second rise also took a long time, which just did not fit into my plans for the day. Inexplicably, one loaf stretched too far and broke on one side, exposing two of the layers and some of the gooey insides, but it held together in the oven. The dough did not feel thin in any places as I worked with it, so what happened there shall just remain a mystery. Neither loaf rose as much as I would have liked, and they didn’t turn out very pretty to look at (see the last photo above). At the end of the day, I felt as if I had just finished a Daring Bakers challenge! Actually rolled cinnamon bread sounds very much like something the DBs have just done recently….
All that being said, the texture was very nice; soft yet substantial, and the bread had a lovely mouth feel, especially with the melted butter brushed on top. The flavor…well, if you like cinnamon, this is a delicious loaf to try. My boys devoured it for their afternoon snack with milk. I will definitely make the bread again, but next time it will probably be after the kids have gone to bed!
UPDATE: Zorra has posted the round-up of an astounding 183 entries for World Bread Day 2007! If you are looking for some new breads to try, there is a great selection from around the world.
stand mixer with dough hook and paddle attachment
kitchen thermometer (recommended)
large bowl, buttered, for rising
2 medium (8×4-inch) loaf pans, lightly greased
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 package dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant yeast), room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
4 to 5 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1. MIX: In the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the rolled oat and boiling water. Add the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt, and raisins, mixing on low just until combined. Let the mixture stand and cool to about 130° F. (If your house is cool at this time of year, then it won’t take long to cool, so keep an eye on it. Don’t let it go lower than 115° F or you may have difficulty with the dough rising.)
2. Add the yeast and stir. Add the eggs and 2 cups of the flour and mix on low for about 2 to 3 minutes. Attach the dough hook. Add 1/2 cup of flour at a time until the dough comes together in a soft mass. Knead in the mixer on 3 or 4 for about 8 minutes, until the dough is soft and clears the sides. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little extra flour. If the dough is too dry, add a teaspoon or two of warm water.
3. RISE: Place the dough into the large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until the dough doubles, about 1 hour.
4. SHAPE: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Use your hands to shape the ends and make corners as necessary. Spread the melted butter on the dough and then sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon.
5. Starting at the 8-inch end, roll the dough like a jelly roll and press the seams together. Put each roll into a greased loaf pan seam-side down, and press the dough so that it goes all the way to the ends.
6. RISE: Cover with wax paper and allow to rise about 45 minutes. The center of the dough should come up slightly above the edge of the pan.
7. BAKE: During the last 20 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 375° F and set the rack in the middle. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust sounds hard and hollow when tapped. The bottom may be sticky from melting sugar. Brush the hot bread tops with more melted butter and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Source: adapted from New Complete Book of Breads (1995 edition), by Bernard Clayton