Oats make a bread which is characteristically tender, moist and just slightly sweet, the perfect foil for sandwich fillings as disparate as peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff or bologna and American cheese. And cinnamon toast made with oatmeal bread -- the smell of toasted oats mingling with the heady aromas of cinnamon and melting butter -- is enough to get anyone's day off to a very good start indeed.
The following recipe includes rolled oats, both in their whole state, and ground in a blender or food processor. Grinding a portion of the oats allows them to disperse more fully throughout the dough, lending it their humectant properties (in plain English, their ability to hold water, thus slowing down the bread's staling process). And leaving a portion of the oats whole gives the bread texture. All in all, the marriage of oats and wheat flour is a happy one, and a boon to sandwich and toast lovers everywhere.
Traditionally, oatmeal bread is sweetened with molasses, which gives it a dark color and pronounced burnt-sugar flavor. We choose to lighten the effect by using brown sugar and honey.
1 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground*
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Special For Machines Bread Flour
*Rolled oats are easily ground using a blender or food processor; a mini-processor is the perfect tool, because of the small amount being processed.
Manual Method: In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle, check the dough and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; the finished dough should be soft and supple.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into a log. Place the dough in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan (with an acrylic dough cover, or with lightly greased plastic wrap), and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till it's crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking. Yield: 1 loaf.
Note: If you prefer oatmeal bread sweetened the traditional way, with molasses, simply substitute 3 tablespoons molasses for the brown sugar and honey. The resultant bread will be darker in color, and slightly stronger tasting.
Nutrition information per serving (1/2-inch slice, 57g): 140 cal, 3.7g fat, 4g protein, 19g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 8mg cholesterol, 205mg sodium, 78mg potassium, 32RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 45mg calcium, 65mg phosphorus.
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