Gwillim’s Northern Army Bread

A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine, Lord Godric of Hamtun, put out a call to our local group to make bread to serve at a feast for an upcoming event. Godric was doing a Saxon feast, so he was pretty specific about the kind of bread that he wanted and he posted the recipes on our shire’s e-list. I don’t consider myself a baker of bread by any means, but I can follow a recipe and I wanted to give it a shot.

Godric’s recipe is listed below. However, when I downloaded the recipe and opened the file, the program that I was using removed all the fraction symbols! So, what I saw was a recipe that called for 2 tsp dry yeast, a cup of water, a cup of milk, a cup of oats, a cup of honey… Get the picture?

Once I got the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients in their seperate bowls, it occurred to me that there was an awful lot of liquid for what didn’t seem like a lot of dry ingredients. Still, I plodded on. I’d tried to make brioche before (the operative word is tried) so I knew that some bread doughs can be really wet. In the end, I simply added enough extra flour till I got what seemed to be a reasonable, though BIG, dough ball.

I followed the directions and kneaded the dough. I set it aside to rise, and it rose wonderfully (the yeast must have loved all that honey, after all!). I punched it down and let it rest again. I noticed that the recipe said I’d have a 6-8” dough ball. Formed into its final flat round loaf shape, mine was closer to 10” before resting again!  I applied the milk wash and sprinkled on the oats, covered it and let it sit for its last rest.  Soon, I began to worry as the rising dough got closer and closer to the edge of the pan.

After about forty five minutes, I popped the huge fluffy dough ball into the preheated oven and baked it according to the recipe. Before long, my kitchen was filled with that wonderful aroma of freshly baking bread.  It rose a little more, though not too much. The crust browned up beautifully and was only slightly cracked. The loaf sounded with a hollow thud as I tapped it with my finger.

In the end, the bread was absolutely wonderful!  And abundant! Everyone had a great laugh over my story about “Godric’s crazy bread recipe” and my loaf was dubbed Gwillim’s “Northern Army Bread.” The recipe comes highly recommended, whether you use it as printed herein, or drop out all the fractions and add in some extra flour and make my “Northern Army Bread.” Enjoy!

 Saxon Oat Bread

 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast

¼ cup warm (105 to 115 degrees F) water

½ cup of milk

½ cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons shortening

¼ cup liquid honey

1 large beaten egg

½ cup water

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon rolled oats

2 tablespoons milk

  1. Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup warm water
  2. Set the milk in a pan directly over heat and heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
  3. In a small bowl, pour the scalded milk over the ½ cup of oats. Set aside
  4. In a large bowl, combine the next five ingredients (salt, shortening, honey, egg, and water) then thoroughly mix them into the oats and milk. Add the dissolved yeast and mix. Gradually stir in the flour. Stir until blended, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until moderately stiff, 8 to ten minutes.
  6. Place dough in a large bowl that is lightly greased with butter; turn once. Cover the dough with a cloth towel and set the bowl in a warm place. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, approximately 1 hour.
  7. Punch down the center of the dough and turn it onto a floured surface. Cover it with a cloth towel and let rest in a warm spot for five minutes.
  8. Shape the dough into a large flatten ball about 6 or 7 inches across. Brush the top of the loaf with milk. Sprinkle it with rolled oats.
  9. Cover the loaf with a cloth towel and set it in a warm place. Let the loaf rise until it doubles, approximately 45 minutes.
  10. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the loaf until golden, 35 to 40 minutes. If the loaf browns to quickly, cover it with foil after the first 20 minutes
  11. Remove the loaf from the oven when it is done. Let the loaf cool completely, place in a zip lock bag or wrap in plastic wrap.
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