Most of us can remember lying abed with the midwinter
snuffles — likely as a result of one too many days of
running around in a soaking wet snowsuit and slush-filled
galoshes — and being served a diet that seemed to
consist of little more than slightly stale water and milk
Now in those circumstances, such a dish (which, more often
than not, consisted of plain white bread drenched with
lukewarm milk) was rarely seen as a treat. However, I've
discovered how to make a special milk toast that's not only
a big hit with every member of the family, but a real snap
to prepare, as well. In fact, once I've baked the bread (a
chore that would have to be done in any case), even my
youngest diners can make their own tasty meals.
It's no wonder, then, that I've established a tradition of
"Sunday milk toast supper" around our house!
It All Begins With Bread
Of course, before I can sit back and watch my
family prepare the hassle-free dinners once a week, I have
to contribute my share ... which I do in the
course of my regular weekly baking-day chores. I've
developed a recipe that turns out delicious bread loaves,
which are great for day-to-day eating and
especially tasty when served as milk toast.
To begin, measure 3 cups of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of bran, 3
teaspoons of sea salt, 2 tablespoons of oil (or butter),
and 1 cup of raisins (the last ingredient is optional) into
a big bowl. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the dry mix,
stir it up, and set it aside till it's lukewarm.
While you're waiting, pour 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of
molasses into a smaller bowl ... add 1 cup of warm water
... and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of dry yeast over the
liquid. Let this bowl stand, too, until the yeast bubbles
and the oatmeal mixture (in the other container)
Now, pour the yeast mix into the oatmeal bowl, stir well,
and keep adding flour (I use about 5 cups of stone-ground
whole wheat flour and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour,
plus as much unbleached white flour as necessary) until
you've produced a kneadable dough.
Once the bread-to-be has been kneaded, put it in an oiled
bowl ... cover it with a warm, slightly damp towel ...
and let it rise until the dough doubles. At that point,
punch the aromatic mass down, shape it into three loaves,
and place them in oiled bread pans.
After the dough has risen to the top of the containers,
slide the pans into a cold oven, set the temperature
control at 350° F, and let the bread bake for about 50
minutes until the loaves are a light bronze. Then
turn them out of the tins and—when they're completely
cool—wrap and store them (you can even freeze some ... if you don't devour the whole batch first!).
The Toast With the Most
And just how do you transform that delicious bread into
(equally) delicious milk toast? Well, simply warm milk
— at a low heat, being sure that it doesn't boil
— in a heavy pan. (Better yet, have someone else do
it. After all, you've done your share of the work already!)
Then toast a slice of the hearty loaf — make it a
good thick one! — butter it, and place it in a bowl.
Sprinkle the bread with cinnamon, drizzle a little honey
over it, and then pour in a generous ladleful of hot milk.
I can't imagine a better way to begin a relaxing winter