J and I have strongly divergent ideas about bread. The coffee shop on our corner makes bread I adore. I’ve been known to go down there and order two slices of bread with my coffee, carefully ferry them home, and toast them here where I can top them with my own jam. It’s sturdy, whole wheat bread, cut plenty thick so that when you toast it there’s plenty of soft warm center between the crisp outsides.
J hates this bread. Hates it! He swears the café’s sandwiches would be wonderful if only he could have better bread. Mostly he eats them on bagels and tries to avoid the bread entirely. He likes soft and airy bread, generally white, with lots of air holes. He loves baguettes; I think the hard outside is a lot of work to get to the relatively tiny proportion of soft insides.
This oatmeal bread is a recipe of my mom’s that is pretty darn close to the wonderful bread at the café down the street. It’s brown and dense, full of oatmeal with a touch of molasses for extra depth. I cut it thick before layering on some jam or butter. And I don’t even need to leave the house.
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for hands and kneading
- Mix together the yeast and the lukewarm water in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, salt and molasses. Add the boiling water, and then the butter. Mix well, and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm (if the oat mixture is still too hot when you add the yeast, you’ll kill the yeast).
- When the oat mixture is cool, stir in the yeast and water.
- Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until a ball of dough starts to form and pull away from the sides.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface, which will keep the dough from sticking to your counter. Putting flour on your hands will also keep the dough from sticking to you. (I’ve also found that olive oil on your hands works very well)
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased, covered bowl. Let it rise until it has doubled (about 90 minutes)
- Punch the dough down, and let it rise again for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Shape the dough into a loaf, or bake in a loaf pan.
- Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour.
What’s your favorite kind of bread?
Sourdough is my all time favorite (I’m so glad I live in the Bay Area!), but this oatmeal bread is a pretty close and satisfying second.