Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

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Yeast freaks some people out. There’s a club, I promise.

I used to be the President of it.

You might wonder what helped me get over my fear of yeast. Well, the answer is simple: this bread. Seriously.

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I made one loaf, let it come to almost room temperature (did I mention I’m also impatient?), dug in and made two more loaves. True story. And each loaf came out as beautiful and delicious as the last.

If hugging bread was socially acceptable I would squeeze it tight and thank it profusely for what it has done for my yeast esteem. Then I’d promptly apologize and take a giant bite.

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Oatmeal Toasting & Sandwich Bread
Adapted from King Arthur (here)

Yields 1 loaf

Ingredients:
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast*
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

*If you use active dry yeast, dissolve it in the warm milk before combining with the remaining ingredients.

Manual Method: In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it’s smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it’ll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk. Shape as directed below.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients (except the fruit) into the pan of your machine, program machine for manual or dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle, check dough and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; finished dough should be soft and supple. Add the raisins or currants about 3 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle. Shape as directed below.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, cover the pan (with an acrylic proof cover, or with lightly greased plastic wrap), and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, till it’s crested 1″ to 2″ over the rim of the pan.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.

An easier (less precise) way to test for doneness: thump the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds thoroughly hollow, it’s ready. For a soft buttery crust, brush the top of the bread with melted butter.

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*I made one loaf with honey and one with brown sugar. It’s a close call but I prefer the brown sugar. Adding raisins (3/4 cup) are an option as well, but I decided to keep it simple.

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