Sunday, November 3, 2013
It was about 4:30 in the morning when I heard a thump coming from the vicinity of the kitchen. I sat up cautiously. The thump was followed by rustling and what sounded like tin foil being scrunched up. At first I thought my roommate had gotten up and was eating a very out of character midnight snack, but the noise didn't exactly sound...human. So I got out of bed and quietly made my way to the kitchen. Indeed, the source of the noise was not at all human: There was my cat, sitting on the counter, happily chomping away on my loaf of freshly made bread.
Annie, my fat cat, has always been sort of weird. And by sort of, I mean, very. She loves bread. I'm always having to move bread out of her reach (and obviously, I thought the kitchen counter was out of her reach. She's never jumped onto it before. I didn't even think she could jump that high.) My totally non-scientifically rigorous theory is that her love of bread stems from the first 9 months of her life when she lived on the street and was probably fed scraps of bread by many a well-meaning old lady. Anyway, the point is, Annie is currently being fed super-duper fancy no-filler, completely-protein cat food in an attempt to help her lose weight. So far, it's been working pretty well, but it has also made her more prone to begging for scraps and even, evidently, stealing my bread. I guess the temptation was too much. What can I say? It was damn good bread.
[And, as my fellow cat-owners/cat-lovers know, a cat on white bread is like a two year old on white sugar: consumption is followed by excessive running around the house and yowling and then a collapse into your bed for cuddles and poking just to make sure you are awake. I perhaps overly-identify with this poem]
But, back to the main point- the main point being bread. Now that I am working in an office once again, I am once again packing lunches and hence, once again, baking bread for sandwiches. Usually, I just make my regular no-knead bread recipe, but I was getting bored. I mean, there's only so much plain, white bread I can take. It was time for something new. That something new was Maple Oat Breakfast Bread (though why you would only eat bread for breakfast is beyond me). Who could resist bread like that? Nobody, that's who. Not even the cat.
Editor's note: The cat-bread was thrown out and a new loaf was made and enjoyed post-haste.
Maple Oat Breakfast Bread
Adapted from fiveandspice on Food52.com
This bread is richer, and slightly more cakey in texture than plain, no-knead bread. Despite the maple, though, it is not especially sweet. I've been eating it with almond butter for my 10 a.m. snack, but it's also good with savory fillings. The original recipe uses the Lahey method for no-knead bread, which involves making a large boule-like loaf in a dutch-oven, preferably cast-iron. I do not have a suitable dutch-oven, and I would prefer a small sandwich loaf to a big, round one, so I cut the recipe in half and sort of muddled my way to sandwich loaf goodness (I also use this method when I make regular no-knead bread). The crust is probably less crusty this way, but it's still a pretty good loaf of bread. If you prefer the Lahey method, have at it.
2.5 cups white flour (bread flour is best)
3/5 cup rolled oats
1/6 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/8 cup room temperature water
1. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix until you have ballish lump of tacky dough. You may need to get your hands dirty. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise 8 hours or overnight.
2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead it a few times until it is less tacky and slightly smooth. Shape into a rectangle about the length of your loaf pan. Fold the rectangle into thirds, like you would a letter back when people actually sent letters, and place into a loaf pan that has been lined with baking paper. Cover and let rise for another hour or until doubled.
3. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F. When the loaf has finished rising, slash the top a couple of times with a serrated knife (or just do what I do and snip with kitchen shears). Bake for 30 minutes until it golden and slightly crustly delicious on top. Remove from loaf pan and cool on a wire rack. Keep away from pets.