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Improve your mental health by baking bread

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During these cold days of winter, one activity that I've always liked doing is baking bread. While it's cold outside, it's a comforting activity. It's been said that baking is good therapy for people who deal with wintertime depression. I would say that there's a certain "comfort" associated with baking bread, which seems to make it more so when the weather is cold and disagreeable outside.

Raisin bread is a popular breakfast bread. I've always liked it, particularly when it's buttered and toasted. Though it's easily found in the grocery store, have you ever tried your hand at making it? I'm giving you a recipe for this very bread and it contains two special ingredients: whole wheat flour and oatmeal. This is all woven together to create "Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Bread".

This bread is also full of spicy flavor because it contains cinnamon and nutmeg. It smell so very good when it bakes! This recipe is one that you don't have to dissolve the yeast in advance. Part of the flour, along with sugar, the spices and the yeast are combined first, then a warm mixture of milk, water and oil are added. This is beaten together to make a thick batter. In goes whole wheat flour, oats, raisins, and more white flour. This makes a dough that is now kneaded. And this can be a good time to get rid of built-up mental frustration! By kneading the dough until it's smooth and elastic (which takes about 8-10 minutes), you can get rid of your anger issues and emotional stress! This is an activity that is good for the dough and will be good for you at the same time.

The dough is now covered and it rises for about 20-30 minutes. The dough is punched down and divided into two bread pans. This is covered and it rises a second time. Now it's baked and in about 40-45 minutes, you have two very fine loaves of bread. Wrapped well, it freezes great. This bread makes wonderful toast or even a good bread for a peanut butter sandwich. It's also good spread with softened cream cheese.

If you're new to bread baking and would like a good and easy recipe for "Whole Wheat Bread", here's the link to one I shared a while back:

http://www.examiner.com/article/whole-wheat-bread-for-beginners

Need some emotional improvement? Try baking some of this great bread and feel better, physically and mentally!

WHOLE WHEAT OATMEAL RAISIN BREAD

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 envelopes dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant oatmeal)
  • 1 cup raisins

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, water and oil until very warm. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, yeast sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the warm liquids. Beat with an electric mixer for 4 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in the whole wheat flour, oats, raisins and remaining white flour.

On a floured, knead dough until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Punch down the dough and divide into two equal portions. Place in prepared pans and brush with oil. Cover and let rise until double in size. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans immediately and cool on racks. Yield: 2 loaves.

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