When I was a road trip rural NSW a couple of weeks ago I got a bit over having bread and potatoes as my main carbohydrates but I did have one culinary revelation in my home town. One of the local cafes The Cuisine Cafe makes a house made bread that it serves with all its meals that was awesome. In fact in tasted exactly like the bread my mum used to bake in the seventies with a a very distinctive texture and smell, (this may have something to do with the local water which is very high in minerals). It was a nostalgic, home baked bread moment which brought memories of all that DIY hippyness of the seventies. Not that my mum was a hippy exactly, but with her sprout jars, macrame pot holders, yoga and home baked bread, she had her share of seventies hippy moments.
Then came the realisation apart from the odd foccacia and flat bread I hadn’t cooked a proper loaf of bread at home for years. This is partly because Sydney is hot for so much of the year and it doesn’t have the optimal bread baking weather, but when I did get home there was still a week of winter school holidays left and if you can’t bake a proper loaf of bread in the winter hols when will you bake one. I pulled out my dusty bread tins from the top of my pantry shelf, did a quick re-seasoning of the them in the oven and baked this oat bread with maple syrup. This recipe from Anna Thomas with its soaked oats and mix of white and wholemeal flours has a sense of wholesome hippyness without the iron door stopper quality of a completely wholemeal loaf. When my mum was in her die hard health nut phase she made wholemeal bread but I remember as a child finding it completely inedible.
On a cold winter’s day, this is just the thing to get your entire house smelling magical. My son had a friend over the day, I baked these loaves and as I started my bread making late in the morning, I was stuck in the house waiting for the different stages to prove, putting off our excursion to the park while the boys played MineCraft far past the responsible, recommended screen time. By the time the bread was baked and we went to the park, it was late in the afternoon, getting dark and cold, before rain drove us back inside to a house, redolent with the smell of freshly baked bread. Just in time for a late afternoon tea of still warm bread with with lashings of butter and strawberry jam!
This strawberry jam (a buy from our road trip) comes from Super Strawberry on the New England Highway, just outside my home town of Glen Innes, and they just happen to make the best strawberry jam in Australia and, maybe, even the world.
Oat bread with maple syrup
Adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
- 750mls water
- 375mls of milk
- 200 grams rolled oats
- 1 packet dried yeast
- 100mls maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
- 625 grams unbleached white flour
- 625 grams of wholemeal flour
- Heat water and milk together, pour over oats in a large bowl. Leave about one hour or until tepid.
- Sprinkle yeast over oats and stir in. Stir in maple syrup, salt, melted butter and white flour, and make a thick batter that can be stirred by spoon. Cover and leave in warm place for an hour.
- Stir the batter down and add wholemeal flour about a handful at a time and stir in well. When the dough becomes too stiff to stir, continue adding the dough and knead it in. Keep adding the wholemeal flour and kneading it in until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead until smooth.
- Divide into two loaves, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour until dough has doubled.
- Bake in an 180°C (or 350°F) oven for about 45–50 minutes until golden, cooked and the bread sounds hollow when tapped (cover with foil if bread is cooking too quickly).
- Turn out of tins and cool bread on rack before cutting.