The sap run was really late this year. I saw buckets hanging on trees only a few weeks ago in April. I’m happy it’s finally here so I can make one of my favorite bread recipes. 

This bread recipe has been a staple for our family for over 20 years. I used to make it with honey, but thought that was too sweet. The maple syrup adds just the right amount of flavor and sweetness without over powering the bread. 

The kids loved it growing up because it’s soft and slightly chewy. It makes a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The crust or the lack thereof is what makes this the ultimate go-to sandwich loaf. The crust is thin and softens up as the bread cools. If you like an even softer crust, slip the bread into a plastic bag while it’s still cooling. Make sure the bread is only warm—not hot.

Maple Oat Bread

2  1/2 cups bread flour

2/3 cup old fashioned oats

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp butter, room temperature

1 1/8 cups warm water (105ºF-110ºF degrees)

2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)

In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine warm water, syrup, and yeast. Set aside until frothy and foamy; about 5 minutes. Add the butter. 

Make a well in the flour mixture. Add the liquid mixture. Stir with a large spoon until the dough comes together. Transfer to a clean working surface. 

Scrape the dough together to form into a cohesive ball.  Knead the dough by pressing it out with the heel of your palm. Flatten and turn slightly and fold it over on itself. Knead it until the dough’s surface is smooth and elastic, but tacky; about 5 -7minutes. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Place dough in a clean bowl (non-stick if you have one). Do not use oil. The oil will break the gluten strands on the next rise and will make the bread heavy. If you don’t have a non-stick bowl, sprinkle flour on your work surface or on a large baking pan and place the dough in the center and sprinkle more flour on top. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until double in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

I keep the dough warm around 80ºF-90ºF for the best rise. I preheat my oven for a few minutes and then turn it off, and let the dough rise in the warm oven. I’ve also tried it in the microwave after I boiled 2 cups of water for 3 minutes. In the microwave, don’t cover the dough as there is plenty of moisture from the boiled water. 

Lightly press dough down to deflate. Shape into a loaf and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let raise again for 45 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and baked throughout. 

 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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