On my epic quest to become a better cook, I’ve encountered a seemingly insurmountable challenge: homemade bread. There’s incentive for making it, since the store-bought varieties of bread can be laden with high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. And of course homemade is cheaper than fresh bread you could buy at bakeries.
Here’s the problem: it’s not all that easy to bake homemade bread that is good. It either has the wrong texture or the wrong flavor.
Another problem: I cannot do complicated recipes or things that require very much effort. That would just go against everything I represent.
Miraculously, I actually found a recipe that I have made a few times—it is so delicious that I devour most of it before I have the chance to offer it to my children (that might be a slight exaggeration but not much). I got it from my sister-in-law’s friend’s friend’s friend or something like that. It has been adjusted so that it has whole wheat in it—delicious and nutritious.
Here we go.
- 1 C dry oats
- 2 C boiling water
- 1 T softened butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C honey
- 1/2 C lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (1 package)
- 2 1/4 C bread flour
- 2 1/4 C whole wheat flour
- Extra flour for kneading
- Put the oats in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Then go take a nap or something, because you’ll need to wait an hour until they’re nice and mushy.
- Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water (about 115 degrees F)—this will take about ten minutes. Note: yeast is very tricky! It needs to be nice and bubbly to work. If it doesn’t get bubbly, toss it out and try a new batch.
- While waiting for the yeast, add the butter, salt and honey to the mushy oats. Stir until blended.
- Stir the yeast water (is that a term?) into the oat mixture. Slowly add the flour until you have a uniform dough. A standing mixer is ideal, but if you’re like The Pragmatist who hasn’t invested in such a luxury yet, you can use your hands. Sticky but fun.
- Cover with a damp towel. Leave in a warm place and let it rise for an hour.
- Remove the dough and knead it for about 10 minutes on a floured surface. Add a little flour at a time as you knead to make the dough easier to handle.
- Shape the dough into one or two loaves and put into one or two buttered bread pans (depending how big you want the bread to be. The Pragmatist likes it either way: two nice and small loaves or one ginormous loaf).
- Cover the pan(s) with a damp towel and let the dough rise for another hour in a warm place.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, bake it at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
Ways to enjoy this awesome bread:
- Fresh out of the oven
- As a side at dinner
- For French toast
- With peanut butter, butter, jam or Nutella
- When you want a snack but can’t figure out what. The honey inside makes it taste good plain.
If you make two loaves, I suggest freezing one until you need it.
You can also adjust what type of flour you use. Half bread flour and half whole wheat flour seems to work best for our household, but do what you like.
Update: Nearly four years later, I don’t make this all that often, but I still really like it when I do. I got a bread machine long ago, and I’m not ashamed to use it. If you prefer a bread machine, simply pour in all the wet ingredients first, including the 1/2 cup of water you would be using for the yeast. The oats do not have to soak ahead of time. Pour in the flour on top and then make a divot in the top of it for the yeast, which you’ll put in last.