Vermont Oatmeal Honey Bread

Mar 9th

Whenever we sell our current home, I am going to make this bread before the open house. If you walked into a house that smelled like this bread, you’d make an instantaneous offer well over the asking price. It’d be a reflex,  you’d not be able to help yourself. It smells like cinnamon, and also like Christmas morning. It tastes slightly sweet and yeasty… amazing. The best part is, you don’t need (or, knead, mwahaha) a bread machine to make this!

I love working with yeast; yeast breads are probably my favorite thing to make in the kitchen. I love the idea of starting with so few ingredients and ending up with something that looks like it came from a bakery. A lot of people find yeast daunting, and if you’re such a person I’d like to think you’re just a good recipe away from figuring it out! It’s a living organism, a fungus actually, not like that’s freaky at all.

You don’t need a mixer, a food processor, a bread machine, or a pizza stone. Just a loaf pan to cook it in! This bread freezes excellently, so make two and freeze one (once it’s completely cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil). This bread is just 100 calories per serving and you can pronounce every ingredient – making it different than almost every store bought bread. Maybe you would like to make this with all whole wheat flour, and I say go for it. This is the deal – white flour has the most “gluten”, which is a protein in flour. The dough made with white flour rises high and is tender. The whole wheat flour has less gluten, so the texture and rise is affected. Usually a balance of the two can add some health but keep the texture just right.

This is real, honest-to-goodness BREAD. Tomorrow for lunch I am going to top toasted slices of this bread with brie, sliced pears, walnuts and honey. I’m pretty excited about it, clearly. I made this lunch! Picture at the bottom. YUM!

Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread

Slightly adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Makes 2 sandwich loaves

2 1/3 c. boiling water

1 c. old fashioned oats

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 tbsp. honey

4 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. rapid rise or instant yeast

2 c. whole wheat flour

3 1/2 c. all purpose flour

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, brown sugar, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let mixture cool to lukewarm, about fifteen minutes. I cut my butter up into several chunks so it would melt quicker. 

2. Add the yeast and both flours and stir with a wooden cooking spoon to form a rough dough.

3. Sprinkle a counter top generously with flour and dump dough onto counter. Knead for about 8-10 minutes or until the dough is tacky, smooth, and elastic. To knead, you push the ball forward with the bottom of your palms, turn the dough a quarter turn, and fold it in half towards you. If this sounds confusing, I guarantee there is a “how to” video on YouTube that you could look up. It’s considered “elastic” if you stick your finger into it and the indent pushes back out after you remove your finger. 

4. Grease a clean bowl with cooking spray and put the dough into it. Turn the dough around so that it is covered by the cooking spray. Put plastic wrap over the top and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour; the dough should double in bulk. I turn on my oven to preheat for about 2-3 minutes, and then turn it off and stick the bowl in the oven. 

5. Grease two loaf or bread pans. The recipe called for a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 bread pan but I used my 10 inch loaf pans and it worked just fine. 

6. Divide the risen dough in half and shape into a loaf. Place shaped dough, seam side down, into prepared pans. To shape a loaf of sandwich bread, roll or press the bread into an 8 by 10 rectangle. Roll up the bread and press the ends and edges to seal. 

7. Cover the pans lightly with plastic wrap and let the loaves rise for another hour in a warm place.

8. Before baking, “score” the bread by slicing 1/2 in. deep diagonal lines across the top (about 3 lines).

9. Preheat oven to 350. Bake the loaves for 35 minutes or until golden brown – if you feel like using a thermometer it should register 190.

Tess enjoyed her time in the baby bjorn, especially when I was kneading.

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