Can you help me figure out what I did wrong? I have a very basic understanding of making bread from scratch, and have made a simple white bread many times during some of our sailing trips that always came out well. So I grasp the basics.
It's been years since I've baked bread from scratch and now I want to start doing it on a regular basis. I chose I recipe I found on this forum.. here's the recipe:
Makes two 8"x4" loaves
1 1/3 cups raw old-fashioned rolled oats (106 grams)
2/3 cup raw steel-cut oats (106 grams)
2 cups boiling water (omit if using leftover oatmeal)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups leftover oatmeal plus 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 105-110 degrees)
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cups finely ground whole wheat bread flour
Extra water for sprinkling
Cook the oatmeal in the water until it begins to thicken (don't wait until it's thick enough by yummy breakfast standards); add the salt and set aside for several hours or overnight. If you use leftover oatmeal, bring it to room temperature.
Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water.
Mix the honey/molasses and oil into the oatmeal and add the mixture and the yeast to the flour. Mix well. If the dough is very stiff, resist the temptation to add more water just yet -- the dough will draw water from the cooked oatmeal. However, if the dough is unincorporated and is more like chunks of wet flour, add 2-4 tablespoons of water and mix thoroughly.
Cover the mixing bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. This will allow more water to be drawn from the oats and will allow for better gluten formation.
Knead the dough for about ten minutes until soft and supple. If the dough is still too stiff (i.e. when you pinch a chunk of the dough you feel it in the muscles in your hand) add a little more water gradually either by wetting your hands as you knead or by sprinkling a teaspoons or two onto the dough as your mixer kneads. Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place**. After about an hour and a half, gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn't fill in at all or the dough sighs, it is ready for the next step.
Press the dough flat and divide in two. Shape it into balls and let them rest, covered, until very much softer, 10-15 minutes. Shape gently into hearth-style or standard 8"x4" pan loaves. If you'd like, sprinkle a greased loaf pan with rolled oats before placing the shaped loaves in them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Let the loaves rise once more in a warm place until they test ready and bake about 45 minutes
Being on a boat, I don't have a mixer, so did everything by hand. I had brand new yeast that has a January expiration. When I kneaded it, it became kind of sticky and elastic near the end, which I figured was good. After I let it sit for an hour and a half, it did not look to me as though it had risen very much, so I stick my finger in as instructed and it did not fill back in, so I continued.
I made the two balls and let it rest for 15 minutes to "soften." It looked the same to me. I shaped into loaves and waited for it to "test ready." It seemed to rise a little but not much. After baking they were like lead footballs. DH will eat anything that even looks like bread so he liked it, but I would throw it away. Really.
Any clue what I may have done wrong? Or is this kind of bread just totally dense. Like... throw it at someone and it would hurt them dense.
Editing to say I used rolled oats and also that I sifted the flour and measured very carefully.