This oatmeal bread is one of my absolute favorite homemade breads, along with no-knead bread and foccacia. It is still a favorite for slicing for sandwiches. I found it in a community cookbook I’ve had a long time called “All Maine Cooking.” This recipe was submitted by Mrs. Norman Hilyard of Cushing.
It is easy enough to make that if I notice I am low on bread I can make the two loaves it produces, stick one in the freezer and be all set for lunch sandwiches, French toast and even bread pudding for a week or two. You do need to acquire slow-cooking rolled oats. Instant oatmeal gets too mucky. I usually use all-purpose flour but that White Whole Wheat flour produced by King Arthur is really fine for this bread.
As always, I have tinkered with this recipe to streamline it a bit. For one thing, I almost never dissolve yeast in warm water anymore, but put it directly into the flour and water mixture of any bread; in this case I add it to the oatmeal, water, molasses and butter. One thing you can bear in mind is that if you have to go do something anything else when the bread is supposed to get attention, let ‘er rise, punch it down, stick it in the fridge, come back later, and resume. Don’t worry about it.
The only thing you do have to worry about is that someone in the house will come along with a bread knife and demolish half the loaf while it is still warm and crusty.
Yields two loaves
2 cups slow-cooking rolled oats
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup butter
3½ cups boiling water
½ cup molasses
2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
7-8 cups all-purpose flour
Mix together the oatmeal, salt, butter, and boiling water in a large bowl, stir until the butter is melted, then let it cool. Add the molasses, stir to blend, then sprinkle the yeast over the top of the mixture and beat it in. Add flour, about 5-6 cups, to make stiff dough, beating about 50 times. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled. Punch down, then let it rise again. When it has risen for the second time, divide the dough into two, and then knead each piece until smooth and elastic. Set into a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch bread pan and allow to rise until just above the edge of the pan. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the loaves into the oven and bake for about forty minutes, until they slip easily from the pan and sound hollow when tapped.
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