Friday, September 4, 2009

Coffee Cans Make Good Bread Pans

This being Labor Day weekend, I'm bidding adieu to another summer -- a little sad, since I'm so fond of the season.

When I was a kid, summer was pretty much awesome overload. My birthday is in the summer. School's out. The days are long and warm. And then there was our annual Fourth of July trip to Madawaska Lake to see my aunt Sandy and cousin Kate.

My family really loves tradition, so the routine was pretty much the same every time we came: float around the lake in inner tubes, stage a patriotic play (I penned it myself -- let me know if you'd like to purchase the performance rights), make a daily candy trip to Stan's, attempt to spot Susan Collins, whose family lived next door. We also spent a lot of time eating, because we love food and because Sandy is a great cook.

There were two foods we could always count on: Mrs. Dunster's Donuts (Canada's finest export) and oatmeal spoon bread, which is mixed in large batches and baked in coffee cans, then toasted and buttered.

I like most types of oatmeal bread that I've tried, but there is something extra good about this one. The molasses are the secret ingredient.

You can also bake this in regular old bread pans (especially since metal coffee cans are tough to come by these days -- I know, because I got tricked into buying several plastic impostors), but the cans make one awesome round loaf of bread.

I generally think of this bread as a breakfast food, but I made a BLT with it the other day and Ben dips his in corn chowder, so we can attest that its deliciousness knows no meal-specific bounds. Eat it 'round the clock, if you like. And I think you will like.

Oatmeal Spoon Bread (from my aunt Sandy, who got it from my grandmother)
  • 2 c. quick-cook oatmeal
  • 3 c. boiling water
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 2 pkgs. yeast
  • 1/2 c. water, warm
  • 10 c. flour

Combine first seven ingredients (through the milk). Meanwhile, proof the yeast in the 1/2 c. of warm water. Allow the oatmeal mixture to cool (enough so it doesn't kill the yeast), then add the proofed yeast.

In a stand mixer with a bread hook, mix in the flour, five cups at a time. Cover and let rise until doubled. Once it has doubled, punch down and divide into seven equal lumps. Put dough into seven well-greased coffee cans. (Metal, not plastic, but I'm sure you assumed that.) The dough will be pretty wet (and I'm guessing that's why they call it spoon bread).

Cover the cans and allow to rise until the dough reaches close to the top of the can -- 30 to 45 minutes. Bake on the lower rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Place foil over the tops of the cans if the bread crust begins to look too dark. Cool on racks, shake out of the cans and serve.

The food: Oatmeal Spoon Bread
The verdict: I'd rather eat this than donuts (no offense, Mrs. Dunster)


Ellen said...

Ooooo, now this sounds YUMMY! I am printing this one out and trying it. What fun memories! Thanks for sharing a family recipe.

PS - we love to have Mrs. Dunsters Donuts too! They are are our special treat on our Saturday morning grocery shopping trips. :)

Dina said...

these are cute!

Grace said...

what a unique and exciting idea! i'm a pretty ardent donut-lover, but even i can't deny the appeal of this bread. great post! :)

Julie H. said...

Awesome! I was looking online for an oatmeal spoon bread recipe and you also happen to mention Mrs. dunster's donuts. YOu must be from NB. Thanks for posting the recipe! (I couldn't reach my dad by phone tonight to get the recipe!).