almost-inaugural loaf.

I like carbs.  Bread, specifically.  Then cake.  Pasta next, then maybe potatoes.

I realize this does not make me unique.

My mother was never one to worry about weight or body shame when my sister and I were kids (she saved that for after college, at least in my case.)  But the one food thing I remember from childhood?  My mother’s constant battle against my deep, deep love of bread.

I would take each slice in a sandwich loaf, roll it into a ball, and snack on a dozen while I watched Julia Child and tried to figure out what “mirepoix” meant.  After school?  All the Little Debbie Zebra Cakes I could eat!  (left unattended, that often meant a box).  I liked vegetables  and cheese and meat and other things, but bread.  Bread was my thing.  That and eating an entire pound of gingersnaps, given the chance.

Sadly, I am an adult now and responsible for my food choices.  And I still love bread.  I’ve never met a breadbasket, a Harris Teeter display, or a potato roll I didn’t love.  Adulthood means self policing though, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I have little willpower when it comes to food.  After a lengthy course of physical therapy for a broken (again) foot, my physical therapist asked me why it was so important to me that I be able to run (apparently years of on-again, off-again injury meant running in a way that didn’t cause me to re-injure myself was going to be difficult at the very least).  “Are you training for something?” she asked.

“Dinner,” I replied.  “I really, really, really like pasta.”

This is a long-winded way of saying I have stumbled upon a solution.  I’ve been told it is time-consuming, overly complicated and more than a little stupid, but it works for me.

I make it.

I haven’t quite been able to give up pasta yet, but as far as bread?  (And other things: ice cream.  Tacos.  Brownies.  Cake.  Macaroni and cheese.  Are you sensing a very gluten-y pattern?)  I don’t keep it in the house, aside from picking up a loaf of french bread for impromptu dinner parties (and the occasional bottle-of-wine-and-cheese-and-bread-omg-life-today night.)  And if I am determined to have bread, be it muffins, cornbread, or sandwich bread-I make it.

For the most part, this has meant brunchy brioches and kerala parotha with lentils, or flour tortillas for taco night.  But today, I decided to make a loaf of bread, because I am currently unemployed, and more importantly, I wanted a really delicious grilled cheese without having to leave the house (and consequently, put on pants).  I made these rolls for Thanksgiving, and all I could think about was how delicious they would be, brushed with butter and bookending melted cheese.

Molasses Oatmeal Bread
Yield: a single 2 lb loaf*
adapted from Food52

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (use a packet.  that extra 1/4 teaspoon is fine, promise)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water (It should feel warm, not hot. Don’t kill the yeast!)
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup rolled oats (NOT INSTANT)
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2-2 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar or a squirt of honey. Let stand until bubbly. Heat milk and butter in a small pot until butter is almost melted.  Turn off the heat and let it cool to warm while the butter finishes melting.

Once cool, add to the bowl of a stand mixer, along with the sugar, molasses, oats, and salt.  Blend with the paddle attachment until it’s well mixed.  Add the egg and mix well.  By this point, the mixture should be cool enough for you to add the egg and yeast with out scrambling or killing anything.  If it’s more than lukewarm, mix a little longer until it cools.  Add the egg and yeast mixture and mix well.

Switch to the dough hook, and add in the whole wheat flour and 1-1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour.  Knead with the dough hook until well mixed.  The dough should be sticky, but flat (as in not shiny).  That’s what the last half cup of flour is for- add as much of it as you need until you have a sticky matte dough.

Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap.  At this point, you can let it rise on the counter in a warm place (as I did when I made it into rolls) or put it in the fridge for anywhere from of two hours to overnight- whatever works. On the counter, it won’t quite double, and in the fridge, it will rise very little. I find it doesn’t make much of a difference

If you’re starting with chilled dough, let it warm up to just short of room temp. If you’re using the counter dough, proceed. Turn out the dough onto a counter (you may need flour, you may not, depending on how sticky it is.

Knead a few times, and then flatten into a vaguely rectangular shape, with the short end about as long as your loaf pan. Roll the dough like a jelly roll, pinch the seams closed, then place seam side down into an ungreased loaf pan (I used nonstick). Cover with plastic wrap and let it proof in a warm place until it’s almost doubled.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 miutes. Internal temperature should be 190. Turn out of the pan and cool on a wire rack completely before slicing, although I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

It is divine in grilled cheese, and with salted butter. Or, you know, both.

*-it’s roughly 2 pounds, but I didn’t think to weigh it until after I had eaten half of it, so extrapolation for the win. Sorry not sorry.