Snow day!

January 10, 2011

I feel like when I was a kid in school and school was cancelled for snow. It’s a free day, a gift, for me to spend doing stuff I like. Which includes cooking and blogging.

I got the text last night letting me know my office would be closed today, like most of the rest of Hot Springs. Here in the Spa City, we don’t get a whole lot of snow, and most assuredly don’t get from 6 to 8 inches in one fell swoop. I kept turning on the light on the back deck and peering out the window last night to see how deep it had gotten, up to and including at 3 a.m. when I woke up to go to the bathroom.  The world is pretty much shut down, I think; I haven’t heard a car all morning on my residential street that serves maybe 100 houses and condos.

So what do you do when the world’s shut down because it’s snowing? Well, obviously, you cook! And snow days just seem to call for homemade bread, which I have on its first rise in the oven as we speak. And because the bread board and flour were out, Ifigured I might as well make a batch of pizza dough as well. So that’s in rising. I’ll pop the pizza dough in the fridge and put the bread in loaf pans for a second rise in an hour and a half or so, and we’ll have hot whole wheat oatmeal bread this afternoon, and another calzone sometime this week,  because I am quite entranced with calzone.

Here’s the bread recipe,  from Gourmet magazine by way of Epicurious.

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
  • 3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon waterHeat milk in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.

Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Stir yeast mixture, melted butter, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.

Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter loaf pans. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats, then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)

Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

I’ll be interested to see how this bread comes out. When I bake bread, I usually make Miss Mary Loyd’s yeast roll recipe and put it in a loaf pan, but that makes a very light, fluffy bread that you can’t do much with, other than eat with butter, and there’s nothing wrong with THAT, I am here to testify. But Epicurious, Gourmet, and a half cup of honey? How wrong can I go? I mean, it got 3 1/2 forks, ferGawdsakes.

Now, it likely will not go overly well with the ancho and coffee-braised country-style ribs after while, but it might be OK with the sweet potato ravioli I’m going to make in between now and then. I’ve been dying to try sweet potato ravioli, and I’m probably the only person in the house who’ll eat them, but dammit, I’m going to make them anyway. Because I can.

Well, I can as long as I’m using egg roll wrappers for pasta, because making pasta is one I haven’t attempted yet. And won’t, until I get a bigger kitchen to work in.

I had intended to, and may yet, bake myself some eggs over a layer of cheese grits with a bit of cream. I was going to do that this morning, but yesterday’s macaroons got in the way. I am ashamed to admit there are only four of the 20 macaroons left.

No, I’m not. I ate them and I’m proud of it. Nyah.

Will check in later to update you on today’s projects. You and y’mama ‘n ’em stay warm!


One Response to “Snow day!”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Is SNOW CREAM too pedistrian for a food blogger?

    You know, I’m of mixed emotions on this. I haven’t had snow cream since Mama used to make it. I’m afraid mine wouldn’t come up to hers, and the memory would be ruined. So I bought ice cream at the grocery during my snow-venture this afternoon, and I’m going to make chocolate cobbler with ice cream tonight.

    Besides, I don’t remember what she used to put in it.

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