A Tale of Two (Oat Bran) Breads

It was the best of doughs, it was the worst of doughs. Actually, it was two doughs. For the first one, we decided not to activate the yeast before mixing it into the flour. When its growth seemed stunted after two hours, we decided to start a second loaf, this time activating the yeast first. After an additional two hours, both loafs were about the same size, but the second dough was much more elastic than the first one, which was lumpy and heavy. After baking the loaves, we didn't notice difference in taste, though the second looked a bit fluffier. The lesson: Activate yeast first, or prepare to wait longer for dough to rise.

In retrospect, we're glad that we baked two loaves -- considering that the first was gone after breakfast this morning. Because of the slightly honeyed taste in the bread, we used slices for paninis last night with honey-roasted turkey, mustard and roasted vegetables. For breakfast, toasted with a touch of butter. This bread was easy, delicious-smelling and tasting, and even healthy. Perfect for sandwiches or anything, we've already planned to remake recipe (which comes courtesy, of course, of Mark Bittman).

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp butter, slightly melted
1 cup milk
3/4 cup rolled oats

Add yeast and sugar to warm water, stir and let sit 15 minutes. Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, oat bran and salt in a food processor. Pulse for 5 seconds. Through a tube, add butter, milk and honey. Pulse for about 30 seconds, until the mixture comes together. Knead in rolled oats by hand. Form dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl, and cover for about 2 hours, until the dough approximately doubles in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rise for another 15 minutes in a loaf pan, while you preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 45 minutes, until well-risen.