Wednesday, March 2, 2011

James Beard's Oatmeal Bread

For nearly two years I've baked our bread. On the odd occasion that we've bought a loaf, I've felt guilty. And the purchased bread - even from a bakery - hasn't tasted nearly as good as what comes from my oven. I have my stand-bys, and Dan Lepard's Simple Milk Loaf is my make-it-in-my-sleep recipe for morning toast.

I'm always up for trying a new bread recipe, though. My favorite soft dinner rolls are from James Beard, and I figured it was high time that I tried another of his yeast recipes. I paged through several possibilities on the James Beard Foundation website before deciding on his Oatmeal Bread. Actually, there are two different Oatmeal Breads on that site, but the headnotes for this particular recipe won me over. It was one of Beard's favorites; he loved making onion sandwiches on this bread.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- The recipe, from Beard on Food, can be found here.

- Rather than the active dry yeast specified in the recipe, I used 3.5 tsp of instant yeast, which I added with the dry ingredients.

- It's been a while since I've baked bread from a recipe using volume rather than weight measurements. The recipe calls for 5.5 cups of flour. I assumed a weight of 4.5 oz per cup which made a total of 24.75 oz of flour. I used roughly 60% bread flour, 40% all purpose.

- This recipe is essentially a no-knead bread; the flavor is developed by retarding the dough in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours. That is an advantage from scheduling standpoint also: the bread is baked in two two-hour time periods, separated by the chilling time.

the verdict:

This bread was not only simple to bake, it produced terrific toast; in fact it might beat out the milk loaf in that department. We finished off the loaf in record time, as my husband, daughter and I toasted slice after slice. Because of the molasses, the bread was brown, like a whole wheat bread, but it had a loose, soft crumb, and a subtle sweetness.

I did sneak half a slice to make a tiny onion sandwich in James Beard's honor. It was surpisingly good! That man certainly knew his food, and he definitely knew his bread.

If you bake this bread, go ahead and double the recipe. It disappears quickly.


Di said...

This really is fabulous toast bread. And it's great with cinnamon and raisins swirled in. I think I need to make some more. =)

Abby said...

Oh, I definitely have to try this one soon! Looks wonderful.

Kayte said...

I've been resisting this one, but at the mention of toasting it, well, could be that I will give in and give it a whirl. It certainly looks wonderful.