So, the house smells like baking bread again, not a bad thing. This is the third round of bread baking I've done since I got here, and the most successful. The first, from a recipe from the Inn at Dairy Hollow cookbook (the B&B that was here in this space, before it became the writers' colony) Did Not Work. Really, it was like a horrible dense brick that never rose. Bummer. The second version rose like a charm, only we lost our power that day, and with an electric oven, I had to keep punching down the dough and waiting before I could finally fire up the oven and bake. When I finally put the bread in, it had over-proofed and looked collapsed and wrinkly. It baked up okay, but I never got that beautiful swoosh of oven spring, and the loaf was a little dense.
This round, though, poofed up gorgeously in the oven, rising to about double what it was in the pans, and was light and delicious. I had a little bowl of orange-cinnamon-lavender sugar lying around, extra from the plum cake I'd made on Thursday, so I swirled that into one of the loaves, and damn if it wasn't just heaven's morning toast.
Bet y'all like the recipe now, wouldn't you? Well, so would I. I have to admit that I just sort of threw stuff together without measuring on this one. Once you have a sense of the basic dough proportions, you can do this, and it will almost always work. Having done this for a while, I also have a pretty good eye for guessing measurements, so the recipe below should be roughly accurate. Mess around, experiment, and let me know how it goes.
Re: buttermilk. I love buttermilk, for drinking straight and in all kinds of baked goods. The only way it doesn't work for me is, weirdly enough, in pancakes. I know, that's the place it's supposed to go, but every time I make a buttermilk pancake batter, I get a wet, gummy-rubbery result. So now I use regular milk and save my buttermilk for baked-in-the-oven things.
Orange-Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup rolled oatmeal flakes
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp honey, sorghum, or pure cane syrup
1 tbsp salt
Mix all together and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
1 packet dry yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Stir dissolved yeast into flour, adding enough water to make a thick, clumpy batter. Cover and let stand while oatmeal is soaking.
Stir oatmeal mixture into whole wheat flour. Add enough white flour (probably 1-2 cups) to make a soft but kneadable dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes, then let rise until doubled.
Meanwhile, make sugar mixture:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
grated rind of 1 orange
1 tsp crushed, dried lavender flowers
1/4 tsp cardamom
Punch down dough and divide in two. Flatten one ball of dough into a rectangle, and sprinkle with half the sugar mix. Roll up tightly into a loaf shape, and place in lightly greased loaf pan. Repeat with rest of dough and sugar. Let rise until nearly doubled, then bake at 400F until well browned and risen, about 35 minutes. Tip out of pans (to prevent soggy sides/bottom) and let cool on a rack.