03 February 2012

Maple Treacle Oat Loaf or I Accidentally Stumbled Upon Bread Paradise

I've recently become very obsessed with Pinterest, an absolutely fabulous site where one can bookmark all the interesting pictures one come's across while surfing and sort them into differently themed boards (for the social consequences of referring to oneself as "one", please consult Dr. Sheldon Cooper). A perfect place for me to act out my geekiness and my obsession with food. Well, and it was on Pinterest that I stumbled upon this recipe. Maple Molasses Oatmeal Boule or Maple Treacle Oat Loaf as I rechristened it.
Adding syrup to a bread dough seemed like a fairly idiotic thing to do (honestly, isn't bread supposed to be kinda neutral?) so when I pinned this recipe, it was mostly because I found it extremely odd and not so much out of an urge to make it someday. However, yesterday it was (a) icy cold (and it snowed! Awww!), so I (b) didn't want to go out, (c) was out of bread, (d) had all the ingredients for this bread at home, and (e) was extremely bored.What else is a girl supposed to do in a situation like that but giving the weird recipe a go? And I really, really didn't expect it to enter the bread hall of fame but rather to end up in the 'been there, done that, don't need to do it again' box. It was supposed to be a nice pastime for an afternoon, fill my bread bin for a few days, taste strange, and then go back to the oddity shelf where it came from.


But, surprise! surprise!, it turned out perfect! A real treat. And it really deserves a place in the bread hall of fame, after all.

I just love the colour and the texture, and the treacly smell is dazzling...! Mmhhh, it's just so GOOD! Excuse me while I go have another slice.

Ok, I'm back. (The jam is homemade strawberry rhubarb vanilla, in case anyone's wondering.)
 Even though it's a syrup bread and the first idea coming to mind would be to eat it with jam, chocolate spread or peanut butter, it also is fabulous with savoury toppings. You can barely taste the maple syrup but the treacle is quite prominent and not at all too sweet, adding a nice, mildly spicy aroma. And it's definitely something you don't get every day.

Maple Treacle Oat Loaf
Makes for 1 loaf

3 tsp dry active yeast
500 ml/1 cup warm water
55 g/0.16 cup black treacle (if you can't get your hands on black treacle, you can substitute sugar beet syrup)
75 g/0.25 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
50 g/0.5 cup multi grain oats - finely ground
250-300 g/2.5-3 cups flour (the recipe calls for all purpose, I used wholewheat)

In a large bowl, mix yeast and water. Allow to sit until the yeast starts to bubble (about 5 minutes), then add salt, maple syrup, and treacle. Stir to combine, using a wooden spoon (don't use a metal spoon as it will react with your yeast and propably kill it. Yeast is a living culture and has to be treated very carefully).

Add the oats and the flour, and continue to stir, adding more flour or warm water if necessary (you might need more water especially if you use wholewheat flour as it soaks up more fluid than the all purpose kind). Knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, and only slightly sticky, then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm, non-draughty place for 1-1.5 hours until it's doubled in volume. Once again, be very careful. If there's a draught where the dough is left to rise, the yeast will catch a cold, get very sick, and die. Honestly.

On a floured surface, knead the dough for a few minutes, then shape into a round loaf and put it on a parchment-lined baking tray. Cover with the towel again and leave to rise for another 40-60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 210° C/425° F.

Dust the loaf with flour and make 3 cuts across the surface, then put it into the oven. Fill another baking tray or a cake tin with water and put it on a wire rack below the bread. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking occasionally. The loaf is done when it's reached a dark brown colour and makes a hollow sound when tapped on the base.

Enjoy your bread, I'll go now and eat another slice of mine. At this rate, the loaf'll be gone by tomorrow...

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