Oatmeal is probably about my favourite bread in loaf form. It’s wholesome, slightly sweet, makes great sandwiches and toast, and is just plain tasty. It’s a loaf that frankly, I don’t make enough of. You can vary the flavor by using cinnamon, or not, and you could use either maple or brown sugar to give it a little sweetness. When “modern” medical gurus tell you to eat more grains, this is what I think it should look like. I’m biased of course towards breads and baking, but hey. Sort of reminds me of the story about Alexander Graham Bell, an old Scotsman if there ever was one. At that time, he was elderly at this point, he was told don’t eat that horrible oatmeal (porridge) you’re so fond of, you need Corn Flakes. His response: “Why should I eat wood shavings?” Back to the oatmeal porridge.
One new kitchen gadget, which I can’t rave about enough, is the new silicone cover or lid that you can freeze, refrigerate, cook with (stove and micro), and use in the oven. They completely eliminate the need for the dreaded plastic wrap. See its use below. I got mine from a really great local shop in Perth, ON, Ground Waves, but I’m sure you can find them in all finer kitchen supply shops. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, round, square, and oblong.
To sum up, oatmeal bread is wonderful to make, bake and eat. So without further adieu, here’s the recipe, adapted from King Arthur’s Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread. Yield 2 loaves.
2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups boiling water
1 cup thick oat flakes (rolled oats)
½ cup maple sugar or brown sugar (I think the maple sugar is worth it, but of course, pricey)
½ tsp maple flavor, optional
1 tbsp honey *I substituted maple syrup
4 tbsp or ½ stick butter
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
I egg beaten
1 tbsp oats
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, maple sugar, maple flavor, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cook to lukewarm.
Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a basic dough. A dough whisk works great here. Knead about 7 to 8 minutes by hand, and they say 5-7 by machine. Dough should be smooth and satiny, that supple feel you get with properly kneaded dough. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or silicone cover, and let rest for 1 hour. To use the silicone lid, just place over the bowl. That’s it. It forms a good seal, much easier to use. When the dough rises, it will push the lid up, but that tells you the dough is pretty much ready!
Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in 2 greased 8X4” loaf pans. Cover, I use a tea towel at this point, and allow the loaves to rise until they’re 1” over the edge of the pans. This is about 1 hour.
If you really want to gild the lily, you can brush the dough with some of the beaten egg, and sprinkle with the oats, if you want a shiny crust with oats on top. Very pretty, see the photo.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes (check by the 30 min. mark). My loaves took 40 minutes, but everyone’s oven is different. Remove from oven when they’re golden brown, and they register 190 degrees on an instant read thermometer (my favourite latest trick, it ensures that they’re done or not).
See Sue’s new website and blogs at www.SVanSlooten.com to see what else Sue has been up to. More about this in the next blog!