School is done, and while I still have some work to do, the worst is over. I'm spending a lazy few weeks grading exams and preparing for my upcoming trip to Greece (more on that to come). Grading isn't hard, but it's tedious- One can only grade so many undergrad essay exams about Greek mythology at a time before going a bit crazy, especially with writing like this (taken verbatim from an exam):
"Oedipus is the main subject where Freud's 'The Oedipus Complex' comes from which states that as a son one is desiring of sleeping w/his mother and killing his father."
Ugh. So I had to break up the monotony by...baking of course. Bread seemed like a good idea, as it doesn't require a whole lot of work, but still demands constant attention in the form of numerous small tasks, meaning lots of chances to take a break from grading...23 exams down, 27 to go.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal-Bulgur Bread
adapted from The Bread Bible, by Beth Hensperger
Makes 2 loaves
2 tsp instant yeast (or 1 tbsp dry active, proofed in some of the liquid)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2/3 c. bulgur wheat, fine or medium grind
1 1/2 c. warm water
3/4 c. warm milk
2 c. whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 1/4 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
-Sponge: mix yeast, 2 tbsp brown sugar, bulgur wheat, water, and milk in a large bowl (If using dry active yeast, first proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of the water, then mix with other ingredients). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
-Dough: Add oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, and butter to the sponge. Beat until fully incorporated. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The amount of flour you need will vary depending on a number of factors (for instance, it was so dry here that I used just under 3 cups). It's better to add too little flour than too much- you'll be adding more during the kneading process.
-Kneading: Knead dough on lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as need to prevent sticking (the dough will remain pretty sticky, though - that's ok).
-1st Rising: Put dough in large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place dough in warm spot to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
-2nd rising: When dough has doubled in size, turn it onto floured surface and gently press into a rectangular shape. Divide dough into 2 portions. Shape into loaves and place into 2 buttered 8 x 4-inch loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
-Baking: 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When loaves have risen, slash tops of loaves carefully (and shallowly) with a sharp knife. Place loaf pans in center of oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until bread is golden brown. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack before slicing.
Verdict: This was sooooo good. The bulgur wheat gave the crust a nice crunch and the oatmeal almost seemed to dissolve into to bread after baking, giving it a chewy, homey taste and texture. My only complaint is the size of the loaves, a problem I've had with other recipes from this book- the recipe indicates that it makes three 8 x 4-inch loaves, but I ended up with only 2 wee loaves. They still tasted great, of course, so there's no real problem.