James Beard recommends proofing the yeast even if you are sure that the yeast is good, for better flavor. I've been longing for a whole meal bread similar to those I ate in England. Yesterday I ran a trial on a recipe of my own creating, using steel cut oats to make an oatmeal bread. Wanting a robust loaf, I thought I'd proof the yeast first. I had cookies baking as well, so put the yeast to proof, then went to tend the lemon cookies in the oven. I turned around to find the yeast was a lively batch!
Michelle's Welsh Oat Bread
1 cup water
1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk, warmed
2 scant tsp salt
1 cup white whole wheat
4-5 cups white flour
vinegar and water in a spray bottle
Bring one cup water to a boil. Pour over the oats in mixing bowl. While the oats cool to lukewarm, proof the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water to which you've added the sugar. Add the yeast mixture, the warm milk, salt and whole wheat flour to the cooled oats. Mix well. Add the white flour until a firm dough forms. (I do this in my KitchenAid.) Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and yields under your hands. Put the dough in buttered bowl, turn to coat. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Punch the dough down, knead for a couple of minutes. Form into two loaves, place in buttered pans (I used a 10" loaf pan). Let rise in a warm place until doubled. Spray the tops of the loaves lightly with the vinegar and water mixture. Bake at 400F until the bottoms of the loaves sound hollow when tapped (about 35 to 40 minutes).
I'm pleased with the result. It was amazing toasted with butter for dinner tonight!
If you try it, let me know what you think!