Food historian Sandy Oliver has been writing about the joys and benefits of oatmeal lately, and I must agree, there is nothing like a good bowl of porridge to start your morning in high gear. Growing up on a dairy farm in Winslow, our large tribe enjoyed economical oatmeal six days a week, and pancakes as a special treat on Sunday.
Oats are one of the most nutritious cereal grasses. Once the oats have been cleaned, toasted, hulled and cleaned again, they become oat groats. These can be cooked and eaten as cereal, but before coming to market they are usually steamed and flattened with rollers to become rolled oats or old-fashioned oats. Steel cut oats or Irish oatmeal are names for oats that have been cut into several pieces and not rolled. They take longer to cook, and have a chewier texture.
Instant oats have been precooked, dried and rolled. Although this process may save time when making cereal, the resultant product has greatly diminished nutritive qualities and inferior taste. Plus, these instant oats are not suitable for baking.
Using cooked oatmeal to make oatmeal bread yields a crusty loaf with a nice, velvety crumb and delicious flavor. This recipe is merely just a guide; the dough can take many different additions and produce wonderful, tasty variations. We like honey oatmeal, and the last batch of bread made with cider molasses was a deep, golden color. Raisins or dried cranberries and a touch of cinnamon elevate this humble loaf to king’s food.
- 2 cups cooked oatmeal
- 1/2 cup warm water or milk
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup apple molasses, honey or maple syrup
- 3 cups whole meal or whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose or bread flour (or more, as needed)
- In the bowl of your food processor or electric mixer, combine the cooked oatmeal, molasses, salt, and melted butter. Add the yeast. Add the flour in batches, beating with the hook until the dough makes a ball and sticks together. Cover and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 ½ hour.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and deflate the dough. Knead into a ball and let rest, about 10 minutes. Deflate the dough and divide into 2 pieces (each weighing about 2 pounds) Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased bread pans. Let rise again until double in bulk, about 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread until golden and the loaf makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom, about 40 – 50 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Store in plastic bags. Makes 2 loaves. Serving size is one 60-gram slice.