Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I’ve been making this loaf for our daily bread lately, and the kids and I are all big fans (I actually prefer a multigrain loaf, but since I’m not the only one

I dust the top with flour before baking (instead of brushing with butter) because I like how it looks.

in the house . . .). This recipe is from The Best Recipe (i.e. the best cookbook, ever), and it’s the oatmeal variation on the American Sandwich loaf. I make it almost weekly, and its biggest danger is that it can really grow if you get distracted (or start talking to a friend), and then it turns into a puffed monster. But really, that’s not so bad. All in all, a family favorite. I’ve tripled the original amounts because our family of six goes through about 3 loaves a week, which is what I make. I loved that Lucy came home last week and said, “Mom, I love Mondays because I come home to the most delicious smell.” Her comment was definitely more satisfying than my bread.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
Makes 3 loaves

2 1/4 c. rolled oats [I've also used steel cut oats; the final texture was chewier, and it threw the water ratio, but worked]
2 1/4 c. water, warm
3 c. milk, warm
6 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. + 1 T. honey
7 1/2 c. flour, plus more for workspace
2 T. instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 T. salt

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the oats to soften slightly, about 90 seconds (longer for steel cut–I cooked them for about 15). Remove from heat, and set aside to cool while assembling the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, honey, yeast, and butter. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 4 cups flour, cooled oatmeal mixture, and salt together using the dough hook. [Test the temperature: if it's too hot, you may want to wait until you add the yeast, so you don't kill it. If you're unsure, test it. It shouldn't be above 115 degrees F). Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour in the milk mixture. Mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed, then add the rest of the flour, 1/2 c. at a time, until the the dough clears the sides of the bowl, but still sticks to the bottom.

Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. If after 4 minutes, more flour is needed, add remaining 1 T. at a time, and then wait for 30 seconds before adding more, checking that the dough starts clearing the sides of the bowl.

Once dough is smooth and elastic, remove and knead by hand for about 30 seconds to form a smooth round ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Once dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured workspace and press into a 7-inch square. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll it into a tight cylinder, tucking the ends in but maintaining the cylinder shape. Pinch the seam closed (I also tuck the two sides into the middle, to create a nice dome on the top, then turn it over) and place seam side down in a 9-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.

Half an hour before baking, place an oven rack in the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush top of dough with 1 tsp. melted butter. Fill another loaf pan halfway with water and place on rack in oven. Place dough filled loaf pan next to water filled pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until bread is golden and an instant-read thermometer measures at 200 degrees. [I usually skip the water; it makes a fantastic crisp crust, but since I freeze two of the three loaves and stick them all in bread bags, I kill the purpose of the water. If you want an awesome loaf out of the oven, though, you'll want to do it.]

Let bread cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. If freezing the extra loaves, make sure they cool at room temperature for 4 hours before wrapping them and placing them in the freezer.

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