Snow Day Bread

Okay, it’s officially a snow day as school was cancelled! It’s only the first week of class and I’m already getting a 4-day weekend. Pretty crazy. What started as a steady stream of snow yesterday morning as I walked to class, continued just about all night and by the time I woke up this morning, they said that there were about 19 inches on the ground. I’m really starting to think the snow God’s just have it out against us, I mean, there has been snow on the ground since December! My first reaction upon hearing the good news of class being cancelled was to go straight back to sleep, but upon failing to get out of school wake-up mode, I decided to get up and start my day by making, you guessed it, bread!!

As I’ve said before, I have really been wanting to make bread for ages and given that the chances of going anywhere in the next 24 hours seemed slim to nill, this seemed like the the perfect opportunity. This basic bread load was incredibly easy to make and actually took so little hands on attention that I was almost a tad disappointed. It didn’t need that much kneading by hand and only stayed in the mixer for about 7 minutes. Once it came out of the loaf pan, it was ready to be sliced. Needless to say, given the weather and the bread, we turned the occasion into a lovely feast of bread, cheeses, soup, and grapes. It was a wonderful dinner on a cold winter evening.

SNOW DAY HONEY OAT BREAD

(Adapted from Pictures and Pancakes)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 tbs kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

1) Combine 2 cups warm water, yeast and honey to the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir, allowing yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes, until it begins to bubble. Add flour, oats and butter to the yeast mixture. Stir together with a wooden spoon, cover with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes.
2) Attach the bowl and the bread hook to the mixer. add salt and mix on medium for about 6 minutes or until the dough slaps around the sides of the bowl without sticking. If the dough is sticking at any time, add one or two tablespoons of flour. The dough will be soft, supple and slightly tacky.
3) Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for about 1 hour or until it’s doubled in size.
4) To shape the dough, scrape onto a lightly floured work surface. press down, working into a square shape and depressing any air bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle. Next, bring the newly formed top and bottom edges together and pinch the seam in the middle, sealing the seam with your fingers.
5) Pinch the sides together and roll the shaped dough back and forth, plumping it so that it’s evenly formed and about the size of your loaf pan. Place the dough in a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and press it gently into the corners of the pan. Cover and let it rest for about 1 hour or until dough rises to half it’s size or puffs up over the edge of the pan.
6) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top crust is dark as molasses and the bottom crust is dark brown. Give the top of the loaf a thump to see if it sounds hollow. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool for at least 2 hours on a baking rack. (Or enjoy straight out of the over ;-))
7) Enjoy!!

Honey Cake

Shana Tova to all! I know it’s already passed, but honey bread is the essential dessert for any Rosh Hashanah dinner, so I just had to share my experience making it last week. I spent the first evening of the New Year at my mom’s new apartment in Brooklyn. Going there reminds me that there is a world outside of Manahattan – only 20 minutes away mind you – that feels like a completely different city. Small brownstones on every street, a main road with small shops and so much less noise than outside my window. It’s quite amazing.

Honey cake is incredibly simple to make, but care must taken after it’s put in the oven so as not to over-bake and becoming dry, which it tends to do. I used a pretty generic store brand honey, but I’m sure it would be very tasty to test out some more interesting farmers market honeys to see if there is any difference. I doubled the batch, as we were having multiple meals and had to juggle the ingredients in many different bowls as my mother does not yet have a proper set of mixing bowls. This is certainly a true holiday cake that fits at any Rosh Hashanah table.

HONEY CAKE

(Adapted from epicurous.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup honey (preferably buckwheat)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon (I left this out, since my mom didn’t have any)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F. Oil loaf pan well and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

2) Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and ginger in a small bowl.

3) Whisk together honey, oil, and coffee in another bowl until well combined.

4) Beat together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add honey mixture and whiskey and mix until blended, about 1 minute.

5) Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Finish mixing batter with a rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl.

6) Pour batter into loaf pan (batter will be thin) and bake 30 minutes. Cover top loosely with foil and continue to bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes more. Cool on a rack 1 hour.

7) Run a knife around side of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack. Turn cake right side up and cool completely.