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Easy Oat Bread
This tasty and easy recipe comes from Nancy Baggett, author of the popular bread book Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads.
2 medium loaves, about 12 slices each
16 to 52 hours
50 to 60 minutes
5-1/2 cups (27.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose white flour or unbleached white bread flour, plus more as needed
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, plus 4 tablespoons for garnish
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Scant 2-3/4 teaspoons table salt
1 (2-1/4 tsp.) teaspoon Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast
1/4 cup clover honey or light (mild) molasses
1/4 cup corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil, plus
more for coating dough top and baking pans
2-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
FIRST RISE: In a very large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, oats, sugar, salt and yeast. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, thoroughly whisk the honey (or molasses) and oil into the water. Throughly stir the water mixture into the larger bowl, scraping down the sides until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. If the mixture is too dry to incorporate all the flour, a bit at a time, stir in just enough more water to blend the ingredients; don't over-moisten, as dough should be stiff. Brush or spray the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. For best flavor or convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours; if convenient, vigorously stir once during the rise.
SECOND RISE: Vigorously stir the dough. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to yield a hard-to-stir consistency. Generously oil two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle a tablespoon of oats in each; tip the pans back and forth to spread the oats over the bottom and sides. Use well oiled kitchen shears or a serrated knife to cut the dough into 2 equal portions. Put the portions in the pans. Brush or spray the tops with oil. Press and smooth the dough evenly into the pans with an oiled rubber spatula or fingertips. Sprinkle a tablespoon of oats over each loaf; press down to imbed. Make a 1/2-inch-deep gash lengthwise down the center of each loaf using oiled kitchen shears or a serrated knife. Tightly cover the pans with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap.
LET RISE USING ANY OF THESE METHODS: For a 2- to 3-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 45-minute to 2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered for 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough nears the plastic. Remove plastic and continue until the dough extends 1/2 inch above the pan rims.
BAKING PRELIMINARIES: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 375° F.
BAKING: Bake on the lower rack for 50 to 60 minutes, until the tops are well browned. Cover the tops with foil. Then bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few particles clinging to the bottom portion (or until center registers 208° to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer). Bake for 5 minutes longer to be sure centers are done. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the loaves onto racks and cool thoroughly.
SERVING AND STORING: Cool thoroughly before slicing or storing. Best served toasted. Store airtight in plastic or aluminum foil. The bread will keep at room temperature for 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.