Between kneading the dough and letting it rise, making bread at home can be quite a production. But this recipe for Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Good to the Grain, makes traditional bread baking about as simple as it gets: the ingredient list is not too complicated and the instructions are detailed, guiding you through each step. Once you pull this tall, stately loaf from your oven, you’ll discover you’ve made the perfect slicing bread, at home no less. Far better than any supermarket bread, this bread’s moist, soft texture lends itself well to sandwiches. The bread also toasts nicely and is delicious smeared with raspberry jam for breakfast or afternoon tea.
There is one slightly unusual ingredient: bread flour. Bread flour has more protein than regular all-purpose flour. This extra protein helps develop the gluten, which makes the bread rise—something crucial for breads made with whole-grains that might otherwise have trouble rising. I didn’t have bread flour on hand, but I bought just enough for this recipe in the bulk bin at the grocery store. You could try this with all-purpose flour, but the bread won’t be as light or rise as nicely.
That said, I’m disappointed this bread is not made with 100% whole grain. It certainly tastes good, but for something that I’m going to eat for breakfast and lunch, I prefer 100% whole grain. Last spring I made several loaves of 100% whole grain bread that used vital wheat gluten to give them lift. I’ll have to dig in the archives, retry those recipes and see if any of them stack up to this loaf in taste. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to try this bread; it’s delicious and quite easy to make.
Make the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
From Good to the Grain (p 130)
Butter for the bowl and the pan
1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Lightly butter a large bowl and a bread loaf pan about 9 x 5 x 3 inches. The dough can also be formed into a boule (round loaf) and baked on a baking sheet.
- Add 2 cups warm water, yeast, and molasses to the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir, allowing the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes, until it begins to bubble. (If it doesn’t, it may be inactive; throw it out and start over again with a new package.)
- Measure the flours, oats, and butter into the bowl with the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover with a towel and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Attach the bowl and bread hook to the mixer, add the salt, and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes. [Alternatively, knead the dough by hand for 15 minutes, adding more flour as necessary.] The dough should slap around the sides without sticking to them. If the dough is sticking at any time during the mixing, add a tablespoon or two of bread flour until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and supple, slightly tacky, with a beautiful sheeting effect.
- 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 warm towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size.
- To shape the dough, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough, working it toward a square shape while depressing all of the bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle, sealing the seam with your fingers. Pinch the sides together and roll the shaped dough back and forth, plumping it so that its’ even formed and about the size of your loaf 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 towel and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size or puffs up barely or just over the edge of the pan. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- When the dough has finished its final rise, sprinkle the top of the loaf with oats or bran, if desired.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top crust is dark as molasses and the bottom crust is dark brown. To see if the bread is ready, give the top of the loaf a thump to see if it sounds hollow. If the hollow sound isn’t there and the bread isn’t quite dark enough, bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool on a baking rack, preferably for a few hours, so that the crumb doesn’t collapse when you cut into it and the flavor can develop.