I’ve had some epic kitchen fails in the years since I’ve started cooking. I’m talking dented pans, breads that don’t rise, undercooked chicken, burnt grilled cheese, bland foods, recipes that are total duds… The list is longer than I’d like to share. I notice that they cluster together, like I go through patches when I’m fairly certain I should only be trusted to cook freezer meals or order take out. Then, all of a sudden I’m back in the groove. In order to find the groove again I have to slow down a bit and make something with intention. (As I write this I’m immediately back on the ice as a preteen listening to my coach and mom tell me not to rush….)
When looking to recenter, you need something which requires a quiet meditation and slow, gradual steps. Not to mention big pay offs. This is the best way to Jedi mind trick yourself back to a sort of kitchen zen – forces you to slow down, focus and gives you delicious rewards.
One of my guaranteed reset dishes is oatmeal sandwich bread. Not just any recipe will do (clear, concise instructions are key), I always go to this post: It’s called toast.
You may think that yeast bread is a daunting task to find your kitchen groove after a set of failures. But that’s why it’s perfect. This isn’t about shortcuts or cheats, it’s about all the little steps building on each other. It may not be something you do after a long day of work, though I love to do it on a Sunday so I have toast for the week ahead.
Let’s talk about the steps for bread making in very general terms – mix your water with yeast and a food source (sugar/molasses) then let it sit, then add your grains and mix until all incorporated and let rest so your liquids really get absorbed, then add your salt and knead knead knead. Let the kneaded dough rest in a warm greased bowl until doubled (~1hr), roll the bread into a loaf shape and transfer to your loaf pan and rise again (~1hr). Bake bake bake until golden brown. Seriously, that’s it: stirring, resting, stirring, kneading, resting, transfer to pan, rest, bake. EAT
- 1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
- 3 Tbsp. unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 ¼ tsp. table salt, or to taste
- Grease 2# loaf pan with nonstick spray
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, molasses and 2 cups warm water. Stir to combine and let rest about 5 minutes until the mix has bloomed.
- Add in the flours, oats and butter mixing well to combine - this mix is going to look a little rough and clumpy but that's okay. Let this rest in the bowl of the mixer for about 30 minutes so the liquids can truly absorb into the grains.
- Sprinkle the salt over the rested dough and knead with the stand mixer for 5 minutes until the dough is supple.
- Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer the kneaded dough into the bowl. Cover with a towel and let it rest until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- Once the dough has risen remove from the bowl and is doubled in size transfer to a cutting board and fold into a loaf shape (almost like folding a paper to put in an envelope) and gently place into the greased loaf pan. Let rise for ~1hr until the dough crests over the edge of the pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Once the dough has risen and is over the edge of the pan bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown, at 400 degrees.
- Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes prior to transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.