Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cranberry Oat Bread

Time is fast running out.  This is week 3 of my maternity leave from work and I don’t remember having as much free time since I was about 12 years old!  Baby was due yesterday so hospital bag is by the door and while I’m putting the inevitable pain that accompanies a baby into the world to the back of my head, I’m ready to rock and roll.

I’m loving the “holiday” that I’m on just now and could quite easily settle into a happy routine of bringing kids to crèche, spending the day trying out new recipes and writing about them.  There are a few light household tasks thrown in but nothing too stressful.  I’ve been trying to get my head around the fact that this temporary life is a time bomb waiting to explode and in its place will be a busy schedule of feeding and changing a tiny newborn baby.  Add sleep deprivation and two more kids under 4 to the mix and I think my life as I know it will be stopped in its tracks – for a while anyway.  I’m comforting myself with the fact that while my “holiday” will be over,

(i)         I’ll have a beautiful tiny, helpless baby to look after
(ii)        I’ll be able to bend down to pick things off the ground (always a benefit)
(iii)       Walking to the shops won’t feel like I’ve climbed Everest with a full bladder.
(iv)      Getting back into running again may (I said “may”) help with the sleep deprivation – will keep you posted on that one!   

Anyway, until baby decides to make an appearance I’ll keep baking. 
Today I decided to try Dan Lepards Cranberry Oat Bread.  I’m not a frequent bread maker and when I do make bread, I usually stick to soda bread which requires no kneading.  This recipe caught my eye as it only needs to be kneaded 3 times, for 10 seconds each time.  Yes, there’s the usual resting and rising time but if you’re going to be in the house for the morning, that shouldn’t be a problem.  The spice taste is very subtle, as is the little bit of Clementine zest.  If I was to change anything about the recipe, I’d reduce the amount of dried cranberries as the ones that don’t sink into the bread just burn in the oven.  It’s a lovely tasty bread and so, so simple to make.

Dan Lepards Cranberry Oat Bread

75g rolled oats, plus extra for the crust
175g dried cranberries
450g strong white flour
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
Finely grated zest of 1 mandarin, clementine or orange
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp instant dry yeast
Oil, for kneading

Put the oats and cranberries in a bowl and add 375ml boiling water. Leave for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is warm. Spoon the flour, salt, spice and zest into another bowl, rub in the butter, toss the yeast through, then add the oats and berries, and mix well. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Oil your hands and a 30cm patch of worktop, knead the dough on it for 10 seconds, then leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this knead-and-rest sequence twice more at 10-minute intervals, then cover the dough and leave for 30 minutes. Pat the dough into a rectangle, roll up tightly and squeeze, seam-side down, into a large, deep, 19cm-long loaf tin, or place on a baking tray, lined with nonstick paper. Leave for an hour until risen by half. Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan-assisted)/425F/gas mark 7. Brush the top of the loaf with water, press on a handful of oats, cut a gash down the middle and bake for 50 minutes. It will scorch on top, but that's typical for fruit bread.

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