recipe post: oatmeal bread // no-knead bread

February 18, 2018

These recipes accompany my yeast series- part one here, and part two here.

First- oatmeal bread. This recipe is a Mennonite classic. If you're not familiar with the cookbook More With Less, I highly recommend it! This recipe is a great example of an enriched dough made with instant yeast.

Oatmeal Bread
Adapted from More With Less by Doris Janzen Longacre
Makes 2 loaves

1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. salt
2 T butter
2 1/2 c. boiling water
2 1/4 t. instant yeast
5 c. white flour

Combine the first 5 ingredients (oats, ww flour, sugar, salt, and butter) in a large bowl. After mixing, add the boiling water and stir to combine. Set aside to cool. While it is cooling, mix together the instant yeast and white flour.

When the oatmeal mixture has cooled to lukewarm, begin to stir in flour/yeast mixture until incorporated. Continue mixing until dough is stiff enough to handle. Turn onto floured board and knead 5-10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, approximately 2 hours. 

Punch down and shape into 2 loaves and place in greased 9x5x3 pans. Let rise again until doubled. To check if loaves are ready to bake, lightly press your finger into one of the loaves. If the indent stays after your remove your finger, the rising time is complete and the loaves are ready to go into the oven. If the dough springs back, let it continue to rise for 15 minutes and then check again.

Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes. To assess if bread is done, thump bread on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it is baked through. Another option is to check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. The temperature should be about 195 degrees F. Cool on rack, brushing loaves with butter for a soft crust.

bulk fermentation finished, ready to shape!
My second recipe suggestion is this no-knead recipe from Jim Lahey. I very highly recommend this recipe- especially if you have a dutch oven to bake it in. I can promise you will not be disappointed! Please read all of the instructions before starting the dough. It may look long, but that it just because the process is explained as well as possible.

No-Knead Bread
Adapted slightly from Jim Lahey's revolutionary cookbook My Bread
Makes 10-inch round loaf; 1 1/4 pounds

3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) cool water (55 to 65 degrees F)
Wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour, for dusting

Special equipment:
A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot (dutch oven)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. If possible, please use a scale to measure ingredients for accuracy. One the dry ingredients are well mixed, pour in the water. Stir with a wooden spoon until all flour has been incorporated. This should take about an minute. The dough needs to be extremely sticky. Touch it to check! If it's not, stir in another tablespoon or two of water. 

Once it seems sufficiently sticky, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to sit at room temperature, about 72 degrees F. Do not leave it in direct sunlight. Let sit for 12-18 hours, until the surface of the dough is very bubbly and the dough has more than risen in size. The bubbles are key- these are signs of the fermentation process at work. If possible, let the dough sit for the full 18 hours. 

Once the bulk fermentation period is complete, prepare a well-floured surface. Using a bowl scraper if you have one, or a rubber spatula, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface. Try to keep it in one piece. The dough should pull away in long spidery strands- this is the developed gluten. Amazing! The dough should be very sticky. 

Gently shape the blob into a round-ish shape (flour your hands first). Be as gentle as possible with the dough- the goal is to preserve as many of the trapped carbon dioxide bubbles as possible. This will ultimately result in large irregular holes in your finished loaf- which is pretty much the gold standard of a great loaf of bread. 

Once you've gently formed a round dough, grab a cotton or linen towel and dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. With your hands or a bowl scraper, carefully transfer your round dough blob to the towel, seam side down. Sprinkle a little flour/cornmeal/bran on the top and lightly fold the towel sides over top of the dough to cover. Leave it at room temperature to rise for 1-2 hours, unless almost doubled. (If you do need to move the towel covered dough, you can slide a thin sheet pan or cutting  board under it to transfer it easily.) 

Half an hour before the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the lower half of the oven and place a covered 4 1/2–5 1/2 quart pot (dutch oven) on the rack. To check if the dough is ready to bake, refer to the indent test mentioned in the above recipe.

When the second rise has been completed and the dough is ready to bake, use potholders to carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven. Remove the lid. Unfold the towel, dust the dough with flour again if needed, and quickly invert the towel, dropping the dough seam-side-down into the very hot pot. Put the lid on and using potholders, put the pot into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, leaving in the pot in the oven, remove the lid. Continue to bake until the bread is a deep brown color but not at all burnt. This should take about 15-30 minutes. To check if the bread is done, either thump the dough and listen to hear if it sounds hollow, or take the temperature. It is done at 205 degrees F. Let cool completely (at least 1 hour) before slicing.

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