I can only make this bread when some wonderful person gives me some real maple syrup. It has to be real maple syrup; the modern substitutes, such as “pancake syrup” or “Mrs. Butterworth” simple don’t work. This is a wonderful sandwich bread, that doesn’t seem to go stale (possibly because we can go through a whole loaf in 2 days…)
This recipe makes 3 sandwich size loaves.
(As soon as you form the bread, wrap 2 loaves tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them. When you’re ready for another loaf, take a loaf out of the freezer, remove all the plastic wrap, and place the frozen loaf in your bread pan. Put it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw out, then put it on your counter, cover it, and let it rise completely before baking.)
As always, 24 hours before you plan to start, feed your sourdough starter, and leave the crock on the counter to become very active.
In a large mixing bowl combine:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup uncooked oat meal (“rolled oats”)
1 cup bread flour (hard flour)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
Just mix it together until it’s an even color and the oat meal won’t clump.
2 1/2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons oil (I like sunflower oil with this bread, but olive oil is OK.)
Stir just enough to form a thick slush, then let the mixture cool until barely warm to the touch.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups all purpose flour
Stir until smooth, then let it rest for 1/2 hour. This keeps your sourdough starter very happy.
Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until your dough is thick enough to knead. I can’t give you a precise measurement, since maple syrup comes in many thicknesses, and rolled oats absorb liquid in different amounts in different weather – not to mention how whole wheat flour interacts with boiling water. As soon as your dough is thick enough to pick up and put on a well floured surface, it’s time to knead. Use as much flour as you have to to get a smooth, very elastic dough – but add the flour slowly as you knead. The dough should not be sticky.
Oil another bowl, put the dough in it, cover the bowl and let the dough rise until fully doubled in size. I usually stick the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight.
On a very lightly floured surface, knead the dough again. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces (a scale really comes in handy!) and shape each piece into a sandwich size loaf. (If you want to freeze 2 of the loaves, shape them, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and put them in a Ziplock freezer bag in your freezer. They keep up to 3 months.)
Oil a sandwich size bread pan, add one of your loaves of bread, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
About 20 minutes before it’s time to bake the bread, put a large pan of water in the bottom of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F. The oven is hot enough when it fills with steam.
Take the cover off the bread, and bake in the steamy, preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the bread tests done. (190°F to 200°F on a probe thermometer, or both the bottom of the loaf and the top of the loaf sound hollow.)
Let the bread sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting – and cut with the bread on it’s side, like this:
This bread can be sliced very thin. For a special treat, beat some of the maple syrup (just like you’d beat egg whites) until it’s firm enough to spread and slather it on a slice of bread!