Absolutely nothing is better than homemade bread! This recipe is delicious and good for you too. It's a nice, moist bread that absolutely deserves a second slice! It makes two loaves, so cut it in half if you'd like. This particular bread goes exceptionally well with my Onion-Beer Soup.
Or with peanut butter!
Old-Fashioned Brown Bread
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. old-fashioned oats
2 Tb. vegetable shortening
2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
3/4 c. warm water (110-115F, like a really hot bath. A hot tub is 90F, so keep that in mind...)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. blackstrap (dark) molasses
1/2 c. toasted wheat germ
1 Tb. vital wheat gluten
4 3/4 - 5 1/4 c. unbleached flour (if you wish to use whole wheat flour, go with half white, half wheat. Never use all whole wheat flour because your bread won't turn out)
In a bowl, combine the water, oats, shortening, and salt. Cool to 110-115F (or easy to stick your finger in and keep in there). In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, sprinkle with sugar and let rest about 5-10 minutes. Add oat mixture, brown sugar, molasses, wheat germ, and 3 c. of flour to the yeast mixture. Mix well. Add enough of the remaining flour (1 3/4 to 2 1/4 c.) to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 6-8 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover, place in a warm spot, and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Punch dough down, divide in half. Shaped into loaves and place in two greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled again, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
To make cloverleaf rolls:
After the initial rising, punch the dough down. Then, roll the dough into even sized balls, about the size of a tablespoon or so. Place three balls in the cup of a sprayed muffin tin. Repeat for each of the cups in the tin. Allow to rise, covered, a second time for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake at 375F for about 20-25 minutes. Oven times will vary.
Baking bread takes practice, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't turn out right your first time. Here's a few hints to help you out:
1. If the yeast is not foamy after about 5 minutes, when it comes time to add it, DON'T ADD IT. Throw it out and start over. The yeast has to be foamy, otherwise your bread won't rise.
2. Don't over knead. Some people get knead-happy (because it's kind of fun), but you only knead to do it (hehe) a few minutes, just until it's smooth. If it's still sticky, add some flour a little bit at a time until it isn't anymore.
3. Place in a warm place to rise. I usually put the oven on warm and set it right on top to rise. I've found this to be the best method. If you set it on the oven, it should just be warm to the touch. If it's hot, it'll kill your yeast.
4. Don't forget to oil the bowl and the pans.
5. Bread is done when the outside is hard and crusty, and it will sound hollow when you knock on the top of it.