Oatmeal Bread

It’s been a particularly busy and stressful week for me at work, but this bread has been my saving grace. I actually made this last weekend, and it’s been my breakfast all week. (Since I don’t drink caffeine, I rely on carbs in the morning to get me going.)

This is a hearty bread, a perfect partner for stews or chili. It also makes a fantastic base for peanut butter (or just plain butter, for that matter). The whole wheat flour and the oatmeal give each bite substance: this is no lightweight in the density department.

The maple syrup gives a touch of sweetness to this bread, which plays nicely off the earthier tones of the whole wheat. And the oatmeal lends its own warmth. The end result is a bread that is neither too heavy nor too light; neither too dark nor too sweet. I felt like Goldilocks when I first tried it: it’s just right!

If you’ve never made bread before, you should know that there’s a secret to it: that is that baking bread requires less precision than other forms of baking. Humidity, altitude, temperature, and a whole host of other factors can influence how much flour should actually go into the dough. So the trick is, after the first cup of flour, to add it in half a cup at a time until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

I like to knead the dough the first time using flour to keep it from sticking. Besides being an old standard of bread kneading, using flour allows you to incorporate more flour into the dough. But for non-sticking, I prefer oil to flour; it just works better to keep the dough off my hands and off my counter. As a result, I usually knead with flour the first time and oil the second.

One last tip: cut a piece when it’s hot out of the oven and slather it with butter. It will make you melt.