I’ve been a full-time homekeeper for about 2.5 years now and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that I can’ t always do everything all by myself. I know: shocking, right? Sometimes life just gets busy. Kids get sick, laundry piles up, multiple family events get scheduled for the same week, and sometimes it’s all I can do just to keep my head above water. During those times I definitely scale back on some of my homekeeping goals. A “homemade” dinner is boxed mac ‘n’ cheese or eggs and toast. I sort through the laundry basket and divide into Needs-to-be-Washed, and It-Can-Wait sections. I postpone some of the DIY projects on my list and buy the store versions. I focus on doing what I can to minimize stress in the household and get everyone as much love and relaxation as possible. And I’m learning to give myself grace during these times. I still fight against the self-made expectation of being Supermom, but I’m learning to let go of those unrealistic expectations.
The only DIY project that has weathered even the most difficult weeks of sickness and stress is homemade bread. Once you get used to baking your own bread, it is really hard to go back to store-bought. Besides, baking bread makes the house smell awesome and that lowers stress, right?
While I still enjoy making the original homemade bread I shared here, I use that more for garlic bread or other applications where a crisp-crusted loaf is a must. But since I found this Tasty Kitchen recipe for Honey-Oat bread, it’s the only one I use as our staple bread. It’s perfect for sandwiches, makes amazing toast, and freezes beautifully. The honey provides just a bit of sweetness and is a perfect complement to the nutty flavor of the oats and whole wheat. Because this recipe uses a mix of whole wheat and white flour, it is perfect for people like me who dislike 100% whole-wheat breads that taste like crunchy cardboard.
I adapted this recipe slightly from the original at Tasty Kitchen to simplify the steps and compensate for the high altitude here. Even if you are new to bread baking, this recipe is pretty forgiving. If you are thinking if trying homemade bread or just want a fun project for an afternoon, I hope you’ll try this recipe. The hardest thing about it is waiting for the loaf to cool completely before devouring a thick slice slathered in butter.
Honey-Oat Bread (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
Yield: Two 9×5-inch loaves
- 1 Tbs. instant yeast (a.k.a. rapid-rise or bread machine yeast)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2-1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup coconut oil*
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 5 cups unbleached, AP flour**
- 1 Tbs. vital wheat gluten**
1.) In the bowl of a stand mixer stir together the yeast, salt, water, oil, and honey. Add in the oats, flours, and wheat gluten and mix on low speed using the dough hook. Once ingredients are combined, turn the mixer up a notch or two in speed and allow the mixer to knead the dough until it is smooth and supple. It should feel slightly tacky when touched, but not sticky. It takes about 4-5 minutes in my Bosch mixer. (You may need to add a little extra water or a pinch of flour if your dough seems too dry or wet.)
2.) Form the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl coated with oil or cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise. Allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 60-80 minutes. Coat two 9×5-inch loaf pans with oil, butter, or cooking spray.
3.) Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and use your hands or a rolling pin to shape the dough into a rectangle, about 8×16 inches (it doesn’t have to be exact.)
4.) Now, fold the dough rectangle into thirds, like a letter. You should have a square-ish shape with two folded sides and two raw-edged sides. Starting at one of the raw edges, roll up the dough jelly-roll-style until you have a nice cylinder. Continue rolling back and forth using gentle outward pressure until the dough is the almost length of the loaf pan. Plop the dough into the pan, seam side down. (Confession: technically, you should roll the dough log until it is longer than the loaf pan so you can tuck the ends under and make a super-pretty loaf. I find this process unnecessary because by the time the dough rises and bakes, it makes a nice loaf anyway. But, if you want to do it the “right” way, there you go.)
5.) Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the other half of the dough. Cover both loaf pans loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 30 minutes.
6.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves 40-50 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped with your finger. Remove the pans to a cooling rack. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to cool completely.
7.) Congratulate yourself, enjoy a yummy slice of bread, and wonder if you will ever buy another loaf of bread from the store.