Recipe: My Oatmeal Bread

A loaf of my oatmeal bread, beginning its final rise in a loaf pan.

This is modded from the King Arthur ‘back of the bag’ oatmeal bread recipe, which you can find here:

They also have a blog post covering all sorts of customizations and how to bake if you want rolls, different sized loafs, etc. I use this when I want to make hamburger buns, for example:

I originally modded this from the King Arthur version because I had to go on a low-sodium diet and it is REMARKABLY DIFFICULT to find a really tasty bread with really minimal salt. But by reducing the salt and yeast (salt acts to counter yeast rise, so you want to reduce yeast when you reduce salt) and buffing the molasses by an extra tablespoon, this guy turned out very delicious indeed.

Ingredient list:

  • 3 cups (361g) bread flour – you can use all-purpose flour, but the bread flour does improve the quality. King Arthur says that if you use all-purpose flour, then use 2 tablespoons less liquid
  • 1 cup (99g) old-fashioned rolled oats (your standard ‘comes in a cardboard cylinder’ style oatmeal oats)
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) olive oil or butter
  • 2/3 teaspoon (4g) salt
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast
    • OR, if you want to artisanally rise this in the fridge overnight (it does reward this, flavor-wise) decrease to 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups (283g) lukewarm buttermilk – you can use regular milk, but buttermilk boosts the flavor
    • King Arthur says to subtract two tablespoons of milk if you use all-purpose flour

The Directions:

  • Put everything in a bowl together.
    • I like to add most of the ingredients straight into the mixer bowl, but I stir the molasses and yeast into the warm milk first. This way I can minimize the amount of molasses left sticking to spoons and containers, and the yeast can begin to wake up.
    • Once all in the bowl together, I give the ingredients an initial stir with a fork to ball it up into a dough. At this point, I can assess if it’s looking a bit too dry. It should be a shaggy dough, but it should be a generally cohesive lump. If it’s crumbling into chunks, add more milk a tablespoon at a time, till it’s balling up properly.
  • Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes. A mixer with a breadhook works wonderfully for this.
    • If the dough disintegrates into something more like a batter during kneading, then it’s too wet. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time, till it’s forming a cohesive lump. Be patient and don’t add too much too fast! It takes a minute or so after you add each bit of flour to tell whether it’ll come back together.
  • Rise at room temperature for 1 hour, or until not quite doubled in bulk.
    • OR, stash in the fridge overnight for a slow, cold rise that boosts the flavor! (Then once you get it out, you’ll have to wait a while for the dough to warm back up to room temperature.)
  • Shape the dough into your loaf for proofing. I prefer to do this by rolling it out till it’s flat and then rolling it up into a log. The King Arthur blog post has a couple other techniques. I’m not sure it matters much which one you use.
  • Put in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and cover.
    • Grease the pan, for the love of god. The sugar in the recipe makes it inclined to stick. Last time I forgot, my loaf ripped in two when I tried to get it out of the pan after I’d baked it. SAD DAYS.
  • Let rise for 1 to 1.5 hours, until it’s crested about 1 inch over the pan rim. King Arthur warns that this recipe is an aggressive riser in the oven, so you don’t want to let it get too big BEFORE you bake it.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F/177 C with the rack placed in the center of the oven.
    • I have a convection oven, but I still find this is a good temperature for the recipe. You might tone it down to 340 F if you’re feeling cautious.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, till golden brown.
    • If it’s browning too quickly, cover lightly with aluminum foil for final 10 minutes.
  • Cool completely before slicing.
    • I KNOW, it smells so good, it’s SO TEMPTING, but the secret is that the loaf ISN’T DONE BAKING when you pull it out! The center may still be finishing off. So you want to make sure it’s fully cooled before you break into that sucker.
    • Okay, well, at least show SOME restraint and wait till it’s only mildly warm.

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