Christmas Tree Bread with Oats and Seeds
Chef Daniel Orr
1 c water
1 c milk
1 T (1 package) active dry yeast
1 T honey
2 T unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap molasses)
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 c bread flour
1 c rolled oats
4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 T sea salt
1 egg, beaten
Oats and seeds of your choice, to taste
1) Warm milk and water to about 115°F. Combine water, milk, yeast, honey, and molasses in the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir to dissolve yeast. Let yeast work for 5 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly.
2) Add flours, oats, melted butter, and sea salt to the liquid mix. Using a bread hook on a stand mixer, mix for 6 minutes on medium speed.
3) Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm area to rise. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour (or until doubled in size).
4) Shape the loaf by cutting into 8-10 smaller balls and roll into ovals. Put into the shape of a Christmas tree including a trunk on a lightly greased baking sheet.
5) Cover the loaf with a towel and leave it to rise in a warm area for about an hour (or until the dough rises to half again its size). While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
6) Brush the top of the “tree” with a little beaten egg. Sprinkle the top of each of the “branches” of the tree with different toppings (sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, wheat bran, oats, fennel seeds, or other fun stuff). Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The loaf is done baking when the crust is dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the loaf to a baking rack to cool.