Does anyone make bread anymore, or is it just an outdated practice? I sure hope there are still loyal bread-bakers out there, despite the ease of pre-sliced, store-bought, mass-marketed bread, as it’s something I love doing. There’s something so relaxing, so methodical about the whole process. I don’t make bread often, but sure wish I did, because the flavor this oatmeal sandwich bread owns the store-bought stuff.
This bread is just a little bit sweet from the molasses, with a deep flavor from the whole-wheat flour and oats, and a moist and tender yet sturdy crumb that is perfect for sandwiches, hence the name “oatmeal sandwich bread.” After the loaf had cooled, I had a soft, barely-warm slice with a light spreading of butter and a drizzle of honey, so simple yet so delicious. Leftover, this also makes the perfect toast with butter and jam. Wholesome homemade bread is perfect for fall.
Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
Adapted from Good to the Grain
This recipe looks a mile long, and while it does take a chunk of time, most of it is inactive, waiting for the dough to rise and bake. You’ll be rewarded for your patience. One note about the optional oats (or bran) sprinkled on top- I like the look of the oats, but mine fell off after removing the baked loaf from the pan. If you want to sprinkle the oats, try brushing a little bit of water on the shaped, unbaked loaf to help the oats adhesive.
Makes one 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats, plus more for optional sprinkling
2 ounces (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 tablespoons kosher salt
Butter a large bowl and the loaf pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 2 cups warm water, yeast, and molasses. Stir, and then allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes, until it begins to bubble. (If it doesn’t bubble, the yeast may be inactive. Throw it away and start over with new yeast.)
Add the flours, oats, and butter to the yeast mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand for 30 minutes. (This method is known as an autolyse. Resting the dough allows the dry ingredients to absorb the water; so the dough is moister, and the bread has a better crumb.)
Attach the bowl and the bread hook to the mixer. Add the salt, and mix on medium speed for about 6 minutes. The dough should slap around the sides of the bowl without sticking. If the dough is sticks during the mixing, add a tablespoon or two of bread flour until the dough no longer sticks. The dough should be soft, supple, and a little sticky. (You can also knead the dough by hand for about 15 minutes, but you will probably need to add more flour to the dough.)
For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the buttered bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. To see if it has proofed, gently push a floured finger into it. If the dough springs back, it needs more time to rise. If the dimple remains, then move on to the next step.
To shape the dough, scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough, working it into a square shape and depressing all the bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle. Next, bring the newly formed top and bottom edges together and pinch the seam with your fingertips to seal. Pinch the sides together, and roll the dough back and forth, plumping it so that it’s evenly formed and about the size of your pan. Place the dough in the pan with the seam side down, and press it gently into the corners of the pan.
For the second rise, cover the dough with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size and puffs up. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400° F.
When the dough has finished its second rise, sprinkle the top with oats or bran , if desired (see headnote).
Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top and bottom crusts are deeply browned. To see if the bread is ready, give the top of the loaf a thump with your hand. If it doesn’t sound hollow and isn’t dark enough, bake if for 5 more minutes. Remove the finished loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Try to resist until it is completely cooled, so the crumb won’t collapse when you cut into it and the flavor can develop.
The bread will keep, well-wrapped in plastic, for 4 to 5 days at room temperature.