The taste, texture, smell…you get the idea. Since I’ve been tall enough to reach the stove, I’ve been cooking.
One thing I never did as a kid was bake bread. As a science geek, baking bread holds the most allure for me – it’s pure science…that you get to eat.
What could be better?!
While I enjoy the whole process – including the kneading which is athletic and mindless – there are times when I don’t want to have to deal with flouring my counter and getting my hands messy. Basically I make batter breads when I’m feeling lazy.
There are two recipes which are my “go-to” batter breads. The Honey Oatmeal can get a bit crumbly but it still works well for sandwiches and the Cheddar and Parmesan bread tends to have a chewier texture which works well for toast.
Honey Oatmeal Batter Bread Recipe
- 2 cups water – divided into 2 separate 1 cup portions [You’ll understand in a second.]
- 1 cup rolled oats – Do NOT use instant.
- 1/3 cup butter – unsalted and almost melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 Tb salt – I use Kosher cause I like the texture.
- 2 packages active yeast – That’s 41/2 tsp if you’ve got the jar and not packet.
- 1 egg – beaten
- 4 – 6 cups of all-purpose flour, divided- If you use bread flour your bread will be tough and chewy because of the extra glutton. Yay, science!
Here’s what you do:
- Heat 1 cup of water till it boils then stir in the oats, butter, honey and salt. Pull it off the heat and let it stand until everything gets to a temp between 110° and 120°. [Any hotter and you’ll probably kill your yeast.] Heat your other cup of water to between the same temperature range.
- In a big mixing bowl, dissolve your yeast in that second cup of water – the one without the oatmeal. Add the beaten egg, the oat mixture and 2 cups of flour. Beat all that until it’s wet and as smooth as you can get it. Add in enough flour so you end up with a stiff dough – should probably just start coming away from the sides. The key with batter bread is the stirring which is what builds up the glutton in the bread.
- Grease two loaf pans – I swear by Wilton’s Cake Release. – and spread your bread batter as evenly into the pans as you can. Cover with damp dish towels and set on top of the stove for about 45 minutes. When the batter has doubled in size, you know they’ve risen long enough.
- Bake the loaves at 375° for about 45 minutes. After 40 minutes you’ll want to start checking by knocking on the top of the loaves. When they’re golden brown and sound slightly hollow, pull them out and dump them out of their pans. Cool the loaves on wire racks. Don’t cut into them for at least thirty minutes. Really. Don’t do it.
Each loaf is supposed to yield 12 slices but that’s never happened in our house since we have a habit of tearing off chunks.
Cheddar and Parmesan Batter Bread
- 1 package active dry yeast – 2 1/4 tsp of the jarred stuff.
- 1 cup warm chicken stock/broth or beef stock/broth [110° – 120° and you can use bullion if you don’t have any homemade or canned stock/broth.]
- 2 Tb white sugar
- 1 Tb unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning [I’ve used 3/4 tsp before and it was still awesome. Just sage will work in a pinch.]
- 1 beaten egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 cup of finely grated sharp cheddar, divided [You can use the bagged kind.]
- garlic salt [If you like that kind of thing, which I do.]
- In your big mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the broth and sugar. Let it sit there for a couple of minutes; the yeast is gonna love the broth and sugar. Add the butter, poultry seasoning, egg, 1 cup of flour and then the salt. [Salt and yeast don’t play well together so you want a bit of a “buffer” between the two.] Beat it until it’s as smooth as you can get it.
- Add in the Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup of cheddar and the rest of the flour. Stir for one minute – your arm will get tired.
- Cover with a damp dish towel, set in on top of your oven and let it rise for about 30 minutes – it should have doubled in size. Stir the batter around about 30 times and spread it into a grease loaf pan. Cover that with your still damp dish towel and let that rise for another 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle the top of the bread with the remaining cheese and the optional garlic salt.
- Bake at 375° for about 27 minutes or until everything is golden brown. Tap on the top of it and it should sound a bit hollow. If you’re using a glass pan, the bottom and sides should just be turning golden.
Should probably yield 16 slices but don’t bet on it.
To back up some of the science I’ve been speaking of and to show you just how awesome break making can be, here’s a Ted Talk by Peter Reinhart [master breadmaker] on bread.