mossbetweentoes – adventures in homesteading, with brief forays into politics, geekery, parenting, crafting, and design

For the Love of Bread

It's been a while now that I've been making all of our bread, instead of buying it from the store (with a few exceptions.) One of my favorite recipes is a fermented dough using your choice of cereal grains (personally I like quinoa and millet) - but being a fermented/sponge type of recipe, it's not something you can whip up in the afternoon after realizing that HOLY COW we're almost out of bread! For faster turnarounds, I turn to a recipe in a cookbook I've had since I was in high school: The Tasha Tudor Cookbook: Recipes and Reminiscences from Corgi Cottage.

The "Oatmeal Bread" recipe was the first yeast bread I ever made, and is still a favorite of mine. I've adapted it slightly over the years, but the overall personality of the bread is the same. The recipe in the book supposedly makes 3 loaves, but it always yields 4 for me (do I have teeny loaf pans or something?) so I usually cut the recipe in half. I've made this bread for neighbors and friends, and most memorably, I made the full-size batch, kneading out a monstrous ball of dough, when I was very very pregnant with my youngest child. Two days later, my son was born. Afterwards as we were getting settled in bed, my midwives went to work making something for us all to eat downstairs in the kitchen. I had requested scrambled eggs and toasted bread. I don't think I was alone in remarking how DELICIOUS the bread was. Everytime I make this bread, it is well received. So, without further ado:

Oatmeal Bread
(based on the recipe of the same name, from The Tasha Tudor'Cookbook)

Yields 2 loaves. Double recipe to make 4, rise times should be the same.

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup*
  • 1/4 cup molasses*
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm (110-115° F) water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups bread flour*
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  1. Combine the oats, salt, sweeteners, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the boiling water, cover, and allow to sit for 1 hour.
  2. In a small bowl, measure out the lukewarm water. Add the yeast, and stir until fully dissolved. Add to the cooled oat mixture and stir well.
  3. Combine flours in a large measuring vessel or mixing bowl. Add to the oat mixture a few cups at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula after each addition. Continue mixing.
  4. When the dough becomes too difficult to mix in a bowl, turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for 10-12 minutes. Continue adding more flour, as needed, to obtain a non-sticky dough that is smooth and elastic. (Sometimes I have to add an additional cup of flour, depending on how humid it is, etc. Don't be alarmed! Look at the dough, not the measuring cup.)
  5. Place the dough in a well-oiled mixing bowl, turn over once so the top is greased, and set it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (I like to let me dough rise in my over-the-range microwave. The hood light underneath keeps it warm, and the enclosed space keeps the dough safe from kids/cats/etc.)
  6. After dough has doubled, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and divide in two sections. Shape into loaves, and place into greased loaf pans. Let rise again, until doubled, about another hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake the loaves for 45-60 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

*Notes: Adjust the proportions of sweeteners to your liking. You can use 1/2 cup molasses and no maple syrup, or no molasses and 1/2 cup maple syrup... it all depends on your penchant for molasses. I personally like the 50:50 ratio if I plan on using the bread for sandwiches, and 100% molasses if I just want to eat it slathered with butter. As for flour, you don't have to use bread flour. You can use all-purpose flour and have a denser loaf. Or, if you are like me, and hate having a bunch of different flours in the house, I use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour all the time, and then add vital wheat gluten at a rate of 1 tablespoons per cup of flour.

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