We enjoy baking all of our own bread products at Curbstone Valley. As much as we love our sourdough bread, it does take planning a day in advance, and forethought, to craft a loaf of sourdough. Some days I suddenly realize we’ve run out of bread, but don’t have an entire day to devote to baking. This is where using a direct-dough bread recipe works perfectly.
The wonderful thing about this oatmeal bread is you can bake two steaming hot loaves, from start to finish, in time for lunch! It’s lighter than a 100% whole-wheat loaf, perfect for toast, but sturdy enough for sandwiches, and slices beautifully. As such we now bake this bread at least once a week, so that we always have some on hand.
Yield: Two 2 lb Loaves
1 1/2 Cups (5.3 oz) Rolled Oats
2 1/4 Cups (18 fl oz) Water
5 1/2 Cups (1lb 8oz) High-gluten bread flour
2 1/3 Cups (10 oz) Whole-wheat flour
1/2 Cup (4 fl oz) Milk
3 Tbsp Honey
5 1/2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 1/2 Tsp Table Salt
1 1/2 Tsp Instant Dry Yeast
Lightly oil two standard metal 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.
Place the oatmeal in the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the water. Mix briefly and allow to stand for 10 minutes to wet all of the oats.
Add the flour, milk, honey, vegetable oil, salt and yeast, and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form a ball. Mix on the second speed for 3 minutes, and then rest the dough for 3-5 minutes.
After resting the dough, mix for an additional 3 minutes. The dough should be slightly tacky, and the internal dough temperature approximately 75 degrees F.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use the mixing bowl, just mist with oil, and return the dough to the bowl). Mist the surface of the dough with oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel, and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should double in size.
To shape the dough, turn the dough out onto a cutting board or the counter, and divide in half using a serrated knife. Using a kitchen scale is helpful to ensure the halves are of similar weight.
Each half is loosely shaped into a rectangle, approximately 5 inches wide by 9 inches long.
Starting at the short side of the dough, roll up the dough one complete turn and crimp the edges to increase the surface tension of the bread.
Repeat until a cylinder of dough remains. Do not taper the ends of the dough.
Pinch along the seam firmly to seal, and tuck the ends, pinching the seams for a finished look. (If you don’t tuck the ends, when the loaves bake, you’ll see swirls at the ends where the dough was rolled, and the decreased surface tension may result in voids in the bread during baking). The dough should now be approximately the same length as the pan as shown below.
The dough will be placed in the pan seam side down. The top of the dough can be brushed with a little water, and pressed into additional oatmeal to decorate the top if desired, and then carefully placed into the loaf pans. If the dough is slightly too long, tuck the ends under as you place the dough in the pans.
Mist the top of the dough lightly with oil, and cover with plastic, or a damp towel to prevent the dough from crusting over. Proof the dough for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
This bread is best baked with a brief injection of steam to enhance the crust, however, most of us don’t own steam-injected ovens. As an alternative place one rack in the center of the oven, and an empty metal lasagna, or half sheet pan (with sides) on the bottom rack.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
While the oven is preheating bring 1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz) of water to a boil. Once the oven is heated, load the pans onto the middle rack, and immediately pour the water into the superheated pan on the bottom rack, and close the oven door. This helps to generate just enough steam for baking. You can bake the loaves without steam, but the crust will not be as crisp or as richly colored when it has finished baking.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the loaves 180 degrees, and reduce the oven temperature to 400F. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and place the loaves directly on the oven rack for 5 additional minutes to brown the sides slightly.
Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing, and then enjoy!
This bread is best the day it is baked, but holds well when stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.