Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oatmeal Bread & Oatmeal Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins

The 64th and 65th breads in the Hamelman Challenge are Oatmeal Bread and Oatmeal Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins. I'll describe both of these breads in this post.

These are extraordinarily similar loaves. With the addition of cinnamon, more yeast is needed. But only if added directly to the dough. If the dough is flattened, the cinnamon is sprinkled on top, and the dough is then rolled up, the cinnamon will have very little affect on the yeast and no additional yeast is needed. Then the only difference is the addition of cinnamon and raisins.

This is the approach I took in making these breads the first time. I prepared the dough, divided it into two pieces, and then rolled the cinnamon and raisins (previously soaked in brandy) into one of the pieces. This allowed me to make both breads as once. And I prefer the cinnamon concentrated so that it has a strong presence at times rather than being a background flavor.

As you can see, the loaves turned out reasonably well. The bread was a bit dense, but was acceptable.

A week or so later I repeated the cinnamon loaf. This time around I replaced the raisins with dried blue berries (also soaked in brandy), and distributed the cinnamon throughout the dough increasing the yeast accordingly. I also use the overnight retard that Hamelman mentioned as a possibility. This time I made a boule rather than loaves and used a recently purchased brotform. This produce another nice but heavy loaf.

Overall, this is a good recipe. Based on my experience, I would increase the yeast a bit. I got heavy loaves both times I made the bread, even with extended fermentation and proofing. The overnight retard didn't seem to make much difference in flavor, at least to me. I like the taste better with rolled cinnamon rather than cinnamon as a background flavor, and the blueberries worked well. Based on my experience, you should feel free to experiment with different dried fruits. Either dried cranberries or cherries would probably work well.

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