Brown Bread with Cinnamon Ginger Butter and Apricot Preserves

Recently I bought a Mennonite cookbook called "Simply in Season". It's great -- all of the recipes are grouped by seasons, which means that the seasonal fruits and veggies I buy will be cheaper, better-tasting, packed with more nutrients, and hopefully more sustainable for the environment by not being transported very far to get to me. In addition to the four season sections, there is also an "All Seasons" section that has recipes for beans, grains, and dried fruit.

I found an intriguing recipe in this section called "Everyday Oatmeal Bread". At first I thought it would just be good oat bread that could be used for sandwiches or toast or, you know, everyday bread. Then I realized as I was making it that it calls for molasses. I'm a fan, so I went ahead with it, knowing that I probably wouldn't want to use it for sandwich bread. I made one loaf in a pan (since I only had one loaf pan at the time) and one free form loaf. They both came out very brown and beautiful.

This is a good hearty bread that I like a lot. What makes the bread truly amazing, however, is when you toast it with some butter and jam. My favorite combination is with homemade cinnamon ginger butter and apricot preserves. Try to find an apricot preserve where the first ingredient is actually apricots. Some of them have sugar as the first ingredient, and then you can't taste the apricots as much. And be on the lookout for high fructose corn syrup. I used Safeway brand organic.

Here's how it goes:

Brown Bread
("Everyday Oatmeal Bread", from Simply in Season)

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter or oil
2 teaspoons salt
Combine and let stand 30 minutes

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
Mix in a large bowl until dissolved. Add oatmeal mixture.

5 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Work in flour to make a medium-soft dough, adding more bread flour as needed. Turn onto floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes until smooth. Place in greased bowl and turn to grease both sides. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down. Divde and shape into 2 loaves. Place in 2 greased 9 x 5-inch pans. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 45 minutes. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake until loaves sound hollow when tapped, 35-40 minutes.

Cinnamon Ginger Butter
(For one to two slices of bread, depending on how much butter you like)

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon