Part of my bread making marathon has been the search for a soft, tasty loaf that would be great for sandwiches. I’ve always been partial to oatmeal bread and have tried several recipes. All were good, this one is great.
I adapted the Cook’s Illustrated “Oatmeal American Loaf Bread” recipe after several tries. All were delicious, but I found the liquid to flour ratio to be off for me. I kept having to add more flour to get the dough to come together. I’ve tried using less milk instead of more flour, but have found that I prefer the whole amount of milk and add up to a cup more flour if needed. I was using All Purpose (AP) flour, which is part of the issue. I’ve tried making it with bread flour, but have found that I actually prefer the AP flour. I get a more tender and moist bread.
Note: After reading the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, I realized I should not double the yeast when doubling the recipe for bread. They recommend 1 tablespoon for up to 8 loaves. The rise time may slow, but it works out better. I found this to be true, as doubling the yeast made my loaves rise too quickly causing air bubbles.
Bring water to boil in small saucepan. Add oats and cook to soften, about 90 seconds. Set aside. The oats will absorb the water.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the cooked oatmeal and attach the dough hook and start mixing at speed 2 (KitchenAid mixers). Mix the milk, melted butter and honey in a 4 cup measuring cup. With the mixer running at speed 2, slowly add the liquid. If the dough is too wet, add 1/2 cup of flour at a time until the flour is combined. When the dough comes together and pulls away from the side, continue kneading for 2 – 4 minutes longer. Dough will be sticky.
Divide dough into two equal pieces. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly with floured hands to form a ball. Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with second piece. (A dough bucket works very well for the rising process.) Let rise in warm place (70 – 80 degrees) for 40 – 50 minutes or until doubled.
Form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a rectangle, one inch thick and no wider than the length of the loaf pan. Next, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam side up and pinch it closed. Place dough in the pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Finally, place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.
Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees, placing empty loaf pan on bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.
Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven, immediately pouring heated water into an empty loaf pan; close oven door. (Note, this step is important. Without it, the bread will not rise as high or be as moist.) Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.
Makes two 9 x 5 inch loaves.