This is a hearty and moist oatmeal loaf made with old-fashioned oats, whole wheat flour, white bread flour, and honey. Oats not only add an earthy flavor, but they also hold onto lots of moisture, ensuring this bread stays tender. The loaf gets even more flavor from the nutty whole wheat flour and sweet honey.
Homemade oatmeal bread makes school or work lunches extra special. It makes superb sandwiches and stays soft for several days. Even then, it’s excellent for toast. The recipe makes two loaves, and it freezes well; it’s a great make ahead recipe. It’s the ideal Sunday baking project so you can enjoy homemade bread throughout the week.
What Are the Best Oats to Use?
The best oats for this bread are old-fashioned rolled oats. Old-fashioned rolled oats are whole oats that have been steamed, pressed in steel rollers, and flaked. They're the most common oats for oatmeal and baked goods. Old-fashioned oats have a nice balance of flavor, texture, and water absorption. Quick-cooking or instant oats are duller in flavor and tend to get gummy. They also hold less water, which would make this dough too sticky.
Types of Flour to Use
In addition to oats, this bread uses whole wheat flour and white bread flour for added flavor and structure.
Whole wheat flour is made by grinding the entire wheat kernel, including the bran and germ. The bran is the fibrous outer layer of the wheat kernel. The germ is the sprouting section of the kernel that's rich in healthy fats. Whole wheat flour adds a nutty flavor and extra nutrients to bread recipes, but the tough bran can shred through the gluten structure, so it’s often blended with white flour.
White bread flour has been processed to strip the bran and germ, leaving just the starchy part of the wheat kernel. Certain types of wheat are selected for bread flour to give it a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. These proteins are what create the gluten structure necessary for bread.
How to Bake Bread Using Yeast
Most bread relies on yeast fermentation to aerate, or leaven, the dough. Yeast is a living organism that consumes the sugars present in the dough and excretes carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide collects in air bubbles throughout the dough. As these bubbles fill with more air, they inflate and cause the dough to rise. The fermentation process aids in gluten development when the air bubbles stretch the dough. It also adds flavor by breaking down large molecules into simpler, more flavorful ones.
This recipe uses instant yeast to leaven the dough. I like to use instant yeast because it doesn’t need to be bloomed before mixing. Blooming the yeast is the process of dissolving the yeast in liquid with a bit of sugar and letting it sit until it bubbles, “proving” that it works. If it still hasn’t begun to bubble and foam after about 15 minutes, then the yeast is probably dead. This process is necessary when using active dry yeast in lower hydration bread recipes or when you’re unsure of the yeast’s freshness.
Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions
This oatmeal bread recipe is easy to adapt and very forgiving. If you get started and realize that you don't have the right type of flour or the correct yeast, chances are you can still go ahead with baking.
- If you don’t have any bread flour, all-purpose flour will work in a pinch. Just reduce the milk in the recipe to 1/2 cup (120ml).
- If you only have active dry yeast, you can use that instead of instant yeast, just add about 15 to 20 minutes to the rising times. Unless you’re unsure about the freshness of your yeast, you don’t even need to dissolve or prove it first in this recipe.
- You can substitute the honey for an equal volume of your favorite sweetener: maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, agave syrup, it’s your choice.
- If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you can substitute your favorite plant-based milk or water for the whole milk.
I love to make this bread over the weekend and use it up during the week for lunches. This bread makes excellent sandwiches, from simple peanut butter and banana to flavorful stacks piled high with deli slices. The oats make this bread incredibly soft and moist, but after several days you may find that slices are better destined for toast or grilled sandwiches.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Oatmeal bread keeps well and will last for 4 to 5 days when stored well wrapped at room temperature.
You can also freeze oatmeal bread for up to 3 months. Slice the bread before freezing or leave it whole. Wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, or place it in a freezer bag, then freeze. Defrost the loaf at room temperature, still wrapped.
Since this recipe makes two loaves, I like to keep one loaf at room temperature and freeze the other for later.
More Yeast Bread Recipes to Try
To make the bread vegan, you can substitute maple syrup for the honey, and either water or your favorite plant-based milk for the whole milk. Skipping the egg for the topping is fine too, but the oats may not stick too well.
Special equipment: two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans
2 cups (178g) old-fashioned oats
1 cup (114g) whole wheat flour
2 cups (480ml) boiling water
2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk
4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon (18g) kosher salt
6 tablespoons (86g) honey
6 tablespoons (90ml) vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pans
5 cups (600g) bread flour, plus more for dusting
For the topping
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
Make the oatmeal:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, and boiling water with a wooden spoon. Allow the mixture to cool until just barely warm, 20 to 25 minutes.
Make the dough:
Add the milk, yeast, salt, honey, vegetable oil, and bread flour into the bowl with the oatmeal.
Mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon, until all the ingredients are incorporated and it forms a shaggy dough. There shouldn’t be any dry spots of flour, but the surface will still be rough.
Knead the dough:
Continue to mix on low speed for 5 minutes, kneading the dough.
If mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Use the palm of your hand to push the dough down and away from you, stretching the dough. Then, fold the dough in half towards you, rotate it 90 degrees, and press and extend the dough again. Continue pressing, stretching, and rotating to knead the dough.
It will be very sticky at the beginning but try not to add more flour, as it will make the loaf dry. After kneading, the dough should be elastic and somewhat smooth, but still very soft.
Let the dough rise:
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let it rise in a warm spot until roughly doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Prepare the pans:
Lightly grease two standard loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch) with butter or vegetable oil.
Shape the loaves:
Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide the dough into two equal pieces with a bench scraper or a long knife.
To shape the dough into a loaf, use your hands to gently stretch one of the pieces of dough into a puffy rectangle with the short edge slightly narrower than the length of the pan, about 6 by 8 inches.
Roll the dough up into a log starting at the short edge and pinch the seam closed. Place the loaf seam-side down in one of the greased pans. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Let the dough rise again:
Tent the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Let them rise in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the bread rises to about 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
Preheat the oven:
When the bread has nearly finished rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Make the egg wash:
In a small bowl, beat the egg with a tablespoon of water until thoroughly combined.
Add topping to loaves:
To add the topping, uncover the risen loaves. Brush the egg wash with a pastry brush over the top crust of the loaves (you won't use all of the egg wash). Sprinkle each loaf with a couple of tablespoons of oats.
Bake the loaves:
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped. If you have a digital thermometer, the internal temperature of the bread should register 190°F.
Cool the loaves and slice:
Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool. Let the loaves cool completely before slicing. You should get 12 to 16 slices per loaf, depending on how thick you slice it. I like thin slices for sandwiches and thicker slices for making toast.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 6g||8%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 37g||13%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||9%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|