Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cooking Simplified: Cranberry Oat Bread

Hello everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend so far! We have spent this one at home working on projects as we continue to settle into our new home. I do plan on sharing another 'Life Lately' post in the near future to tell you more about our new place, and what we've been up to. It's been several months since my last one, and a lot has happened that I want to share with you. So stay tuned for my update in the near future. :)

Now on to today's post...since we are finally in our own home, and my kitchen boxes have all been unpacked, I have once again started baking my own bread. Not only is homemade bread extremely delicious, but it is also free from added preservatives, and a lot less expensive than buying it from the store, especially if you have a large family like I do.

It used to be that I would make my bread by hand, kneading it myself, letting it rise, kneading it again, and then baking it in the oven. However, as of late I have started using a bread machine, as it saves me a lot of time in the kitchen, and the bread has been turning out just as delicious as oven-baked bread. I have been using the Oster Expressbake Breadmaker, and have been very pleased with it. If you're looking for a machine with a 1 - 2 lb. loaf capacity for a decent price, this is a really great option.

I am always on the lookout for new sweet bread recipes, as my family enjoys having a slice at breakfast or as a snack, and I enjoy a slice toasted with my cup of tea for a special treat or pick me up during the day. During one of my searches, I came across this recipe for Cranberry Oat Bread. I made a few minor changes to the recipe, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. Honestly, it is so delicious I think I could just about eat the whole loaf myself. My boys practically devoured the entire loaf before I was even able to snap a pic of it, or try a piece myself...yes, it's that good!

Here is my personal version of the recipe:

Cranberry Oat Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup water (70° to 80°) + 1 Tbsp.
2 tablespoon butter, softened
4 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1-3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Directions:

1. In bread machine pan, mix the yeast, honey, and 1 cup water. Let sit for 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

2. Add the butter, cinnamon, oats, flour, and salt.

3. Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size if available. (I set mine for a 1.5 lb. loaf with light crust.)

4. Bake according to bread machine directions. Check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed. (I added 1 Tbsp. water at this point, as my dough seemed a bit dry.)

5. Just before final kneading (your machine may audibly signal this, like mine does), add the cranberries.

6. Wait patiently for the loaf to finish kneading and baking, while enjoying the wonderful smell wafting through your home.

7. Remove from pan, place on a rack to cool a bit, then slice and enjoy...try not to eat the entire loaf all at once. ;)

8. Yield: 1 loaf (1-1/2 pounds).

**You can substitute raisins for the cranberries, or add raisins with the cranberries. You can also completely omit the dried fruit altogether. I have not yet made the bread without the cranberries, but read a review that said it turns out as a simply delicious loaf of oat bread. I personally will be giving it a try soon.

***A couple more tidbits...I have found that slicing bread made in the bread machine with an electric knife is definitely the way to go. I use THIS ONE from Hamilton Beach and it works like a charm. I have also invested in THIS foldable bread slicer with 3 sizes of thickness, which really helps to get the perfect size slice for sandwiches, toast, or a thick slice of bread to go with soup or chili. I have been storing my freshly baked bread in the Progressive International Adjustable Bread Keeper with very pleasing results, and plan to get a second one in the near future. If you are looking for a way to store your bread so that it remains fresh for more than a day or two, give this keeper a try. It's not overly pricey and it works well...that's a win - win, IMHO. :)

That's it for now...I hope you enjoy this bread as much as my family and I do. Let me know what you think if you decide to give it a try! :)

Have a lovely day!

4 comments:

  1. I used to bake bread with my grandmother, although in hindsight I'm sure I wasn't as helpful as I thought I was :) This looks delicious, Melissa. I like cranberry in almost everything.

    I can't wait to see your new home!

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    1. Hi Desert Flower! This bread is absolutely wonderful. I hope you get the chance to try it. You must have such fond memories of baking bread with your grandmother. Even if you weren't that helpful, I'm sure she still utterly enjoyed having you there. :)

      We are really loving our new house. Decorating is going slowly, but that's ok...it will all get done eventually.

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  2. Hi Melissa,i cant wait to see pics of your new home.It is always so exciting to start anew:)

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    1. Hi Ina! Yes, it is really so very nice to being starting out in a new home again. Ours has really pretty much been a blank canvas, and it's taking a while to get it decorated, but I know it will all get done eventually. :)

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