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Bake Something Saturday: Finding not just harmony but BLISS in a bite of bread

April 6, 2013

Like many Mennonite* girls who got married in the 70s, one of my favorite wedding presents was More with Less Cookbook. We got married the year it was first published, 1976, when it quickly became a kind of cult classic, on its way to best seller status.

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Valerie Weaver-Zercher says the way you can find your favorite recipe in any book (or recipe box for that matter) is look for the page(s) that have the most stains or grease marks on them.

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So it’s not hard to find my family’s all time favorite bread recipe in More With Less, oatmeal bread. I look for the messiest page.

(Valerie just published The Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels  and is currently compiling a new version of one of the follow-up cookbooks in the Herald Press World Community Cookbook series, Extending the Table.)

I began baking this oatmeal bread when the children were all small; eventually my youngest daughter Doreen took over the bread baking to the point where the adaption I included in my book, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflection for Family Mealtime is called “Doreen’s Oatmeal Bread.” We added a whole packet of yeast to the original recipe and some flour, but of course the genius of the bread comes straight from the heart of More with Less with its wonderful combination of three grains or forms of flour: oats, whole wheat flour, and regular flour. And hands down, Doreen forms a much nicer loaf than I can manage, so that’s why she earned the moniker on the recipe (and I’m sorry she didn’t form the loaves for this pictorial!)

Even if you’ve never baked bread, this is a fairly easy recipe and I’ll let the recipe and pictures tell the rest of the story.

Doreen’s Oatmeal Bread (adapted from More with Less Cookbook). This version appears in Whatever Happened to Dinner (see special offer below)

Combine in large bowl:
1 cup / 250 ml quick oats
½ cup / 125 ml whole wheat flour
½ cup / 125 ml brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Pour 2 cups / 500 ml boiling water over mixture in bowl.

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Separately dissolve:

2 packages dry yeast in
½ cup / 125 ml warm water

When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add the yeast mixture to the batter. Then, gradually, stir in 5½ cups / 1.4 L ml white flour (you’ll probably add another ½ cup / 125 ml in kneading).

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When dough is stiff, turn onto a floured board and knead by hand 5–10 minutes.

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Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, below. Takes a good hour.  (I find that putting it on my stove top, under the hood light which creates a little heat, is usually a nice warm place.)

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Punch down and let rise again, about one hour.

When done rising, punch down, divide dough into two lumps, and shape each one into a loaf. This is how we do it. (And if you want, save a small wad of dough like we do to make a tiny loaf for tasting!)

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Turn over the lump you have shaped so that the smooth side is up. (See loaves below) Place in greased 9x5x3-inch pans.  Let rise again, about 30 minutes. The baby loaf is what we always set aside for early samples from the oven!

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Bake at 350° F/ 180° C for 25–30 minutes. Brush baked loaves with butter or margarine for a soft crust. Allow to cool.

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Suggestion: For a little added nutrition, you can substitute some or all whole wheat flour for the white flour. If you substitute more than half, the bread will have a denser texture, and you may need less flour, but the result is still tasty.

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Slice and enjoy. My first taste, spread with real butter, is just bliss.

If you own the More with Less Cookbook, when and how did you get your first copy??? I’d love to hear. Comment below.

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Sale. From now until May 8, 2013, all Herald Press cookbooks, including mine and More with Less Cookbook, are on sale for 30 % off. Stock up for wedding gifts and showers! And to take a sneak peek inside the new Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations Cookbook, check it out on Amazon.

Special recipe-by-email offer: Become one of my “adopted children”: When my daughters want to use a recipe from Whatever Happened to Dinner but find it hard to make the book stay open to the recipe, they ask me to email them the recipe (from the electronic files I have) which they can then print out or bring up on a smart phone/notebook. If you purchase (or already have) a copy of Whatever Happen to Dinner, I will be happy to email you any recipe from my book. Just be in touch. If you comment below or sign up to receive blog posts, I’ll have your email.

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*Footnote about my faith roots: I was Mennonite at the time, married a Lutheran, and we eventually joined a house church based congregation, Trinity Presbyterian, founded on the principles of Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C., whose beloved founder, Gordon Cosby, recently died.

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From → Food, Recipes

5 Comments
  1. There really is something “blissful” about bread isn’t there? All the way from kneading it, smelling the wonderful aroma while it is baking in the oven and the bit of butter melting into a warm slice….Mmmm, I got my More with Less book a good 25 years ago. I love that book. So many tried and true recipes that have become some of my favorites. Have you tried the Minestrone Soup on page 210. I replace the salt pork with smoked sausage. Delish! You have inspired me to pull it out and make my weekly menu from it this week. Thanks I needed a bit of inspiration 😉

  2. I will have to check out the minestrone soup. I do a lot of variations on things. My second favorite recipe is probably the stir fry, in endless variation. Thanks for commenting, Charlotte! Can’t wait for your new book to come out!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. An Amish Recipe for Oatmeal Bread | findingharmonyblog
  2. Quick and Easy Breakfast Pastry: Ree Drummond French Puffs | findingharmonyblog
  3. European Peasant Artisan Bread: Wholesome and Hearty | findingharmonyblog

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