My tried and true Most Oatmeal Bread recipe was calling me but when I saw this one in Greg Patent’s A Baker’s Odyssey, it was time to bake.
Remember in school on test day, the teacher’s instructions were always to read the test directions before you start answering the questions. You always did, didn’t you, read the directions, I mean? Yes, well, then I’m sure you’ve learned by now to read a recipe from start to finish before you start gathering ingredients … AND you always gather all the ingredients before you start mixing. Yeah, well, me neither. For some reason I did this time.
There’s nothing really odd with the ingredient list for this bread. Gather the usual suspects, whole wheat and bread flours, salt, yeast, water and oat meal. You might want some toasted wheat germ or some seeds or not to roll the dough in finally for some dress. I added some ground flax seed to the dough but didn’t roll it in wheat germ or seeds.
What most surprised me about this bread, what was most unusual about this bread? This bread is given a final rise and then placed in a COLD oven – no pre-heating – then the oven is set at 400°F and baked for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F. If the Bread Baking Babes hadn’t just baked the Cuban Bread last month, this would have been a real shock. I did find it rather odd that now I’ve come up with two different breads that start baking in a cold oven.
This made for a wonderful, moist, tight crumbed oatmeal bread. No fat, no sugar! Great sandwich bread, wonderful toast.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Loaves
Recipe By: Greg Patent: A Baker’s Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes From America’s Rich Immigrant Heritage adapted by me
Yield: 2 loaves
A Norwegian bread
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 1/3 cups (4 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or active dry yeast
3 cups hot water (120° to 130°F)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups white whole wheat flour + 1 cup bread flour
4 tablespoons ground flax seed
Untoasted wheat germ (optional)
1. SPONGE: Mix hot water with oat meal. I did this because I always buy Bob’s Red Mill thick rolled oats and thought it needed a little extra exposure to the hot water. Whisk white whole wheat flour (recipe called for whole wheat), bread flour, and yeast; then mix into the oats and water mix. Cover and allow to rise till about tripled in volume and bubbly. Recipe said about 2 hours, mine only took 90 minutes.
2. DOUGH: Mix the salt into the sponge. Stir about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of the whole wheat and bread flours into the sponge to make a sticky and slightly stiff dough.
3. Use the remaining 1/2 cup flour to knead the dough.
4. Kneading may take 5 to 10 minutes: You are aiming for a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough. Avoid adding any additional flour. The oats are thirsty and will absorb moisture.
5. Coat the dough with olive oil, place in bowl and cover. Allow dough to double; mine took 55 minutes to double. Recipe allowed 90 minutes.
6. Spray two loaf pans (9x5x3 inch) with cooking spray. Deflate the dough; divide in half for two loaves, shape each half into a loaf and place in pan. Roll in toasted wheat germ or seeds if you like. Place seam side down in greased loaf pans. Spray the loaves with cooking oil. Cover loosely with plastic – I use shower caps. Allow to rise about an hour ( recipe called for 90 minutes); the rise should dome the loaf centers close to 2 inches above the pan rims.
DO NOT pre-heat the oven.
7. REMOVE the shower caps and turn the oven on to 400°F. My loaves took 55 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 202°F. Allow to cool completely before cutting – 3 to 4 hours. This is really important when baking with heavy doughs containing lots of whole grains because of the moisture. Cut this too early while still hot and it will likely disappoint and be gummy.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a loaf should register 200°F. If in doubt, err on the side of longer baking; if under-baked, the bread will have a doughy texture. When the loaves are fully baked, remove them from their pans and set them upright on a wire cooling rack. Cool completely, at least 3 to 4 hours, before slicing.
8. One loaf has stayed fresh in a plastic bag at room temperature for three days … but it’s down to the heal so we’ll now use the one I put in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Gorn likes the ease of slicing it even very thin. We’ve made lovely sandwiches of all kinds and great toast with it.