Last year, I got really into bread baking and tried quite a few different bread recipes. Over time, however, there has only been one recipe that I keep coming back to. It is so delicious, that my carb-conscious-Zone-focused-not-quite-Paleo-diet husband devours it and has taken to calling it “Crack Bread”.
The recipe is available on the King Arthur Flour website, which I love, but am re-posting it here for convenience, along with my substitutions/methods. If you are interested in bread baking, I highly encourage you to check out their site. Not only do they have a fabulous blog with step-by-step photos and explanations, but if you comment on their recipes they will read them and offer feedback.
Another great benefit — if you print their recipes, you have the option to convert the measurements to weight, which is more accurate for baking. I :heart: KAF!
King Arthur Honey Oatmeal Bread
Source: King Arthur Flour Company
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 cups “quick” rolled oats
Note: we have old fashioned oats (not quick), so I use a mini-processor to chop up the oats, per KAF’s suggestion.
- 2 packets “highly active” dry yeast; or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast; or 2 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
Note: I use active dry yeast, which I buy in bulk at Costco for a fraction of the grocery store cost. Just keep it in the freezer, it lasts forever!
- 2 tablespoons honey
Hint: spray your measuring spoon with non-stick oil for easier pouring
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
I use 1 cup white whole wheat flour and 1 1/4 cup regular flour. I prefer KA flour but will also buy Trader Joe’s flour. I do think quality flour makes a difference.
- 2 tablespoons oats, to sprinkle on top, optional
1) Combine the 3/4 cup water and oats, and let rest for 20 minutes. This gives the oats a chance to absorb the water and soften up.
2) If you’re using active or “highly active” dry yeast, dissolve it in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. It should start to bubble as the oats and water rest.
Note: I start with step 1 and 2, and while they are resting/bubbling/soaking, I gather my other ingredients. By the time I do all that and unload/load the dishwasher, it’s time to move on to Step 3!
3) Add the remaining ingredients to the oats (including the yeast/water/sugar mixture, if you’re using active dry yeast), and mix and knead—by hand, electric mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle—until the dough feels springy; it will be quite stiff.
Note: I use my KitchenAid mixer — I just use the hook attachment to combine everything and knead. It takes about 7 or so minutes.
4) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise, covered, for 2 hours; it’s a slow riser.
5) Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. Cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap.
Note: I use a technique I learned from the Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice book. I shape the bread into a rectangle, ~5″ by 8 or 9″. Then I start at the short end and roll it up. As I do, the bread stretches out. You want it to be long enough to touch the ends of your pan (not necessarily the sides) — so it should be 8 or 9″ when you are done, depending on the size of your bread pan.
6) Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, till it’s crowned about 1 1/2″ over the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Note: Don’t let it rise too high! If it over rises, it has a tendency to collapse during baking, ala this failed exercise.
7) Brush the top of the loaf with milk, and sprinkle with oats, if desired.
8) Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. When the bread is done, it’ll be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F.
9) Remove the bread from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Store well-wrapped at room temperature.
Step #9 is the hardest one! It smells sooo good it’s nearly impossible to wait til it’s cool. Plus, it’s mighty tasty while still slightly warm.
Baking with yeast seemed really intimidating to me before I tried it. After a few goes at it, I feel like I got the hang of it and it so wonderful to eat (and smell!) home-baked bread. Even if you are newbie to bread baking, I encourage you to give it a try! Not to repeat myself, but the King Arthur site really is a wonderful resource (and no, they are not paying me to say that!). If you try one of their “KAF Guaranteed” recipes (this one is!) you can even call them for help if something goes wrong.
This post is linked up to some yummy recipe exchanges — check them out to find more delicious recipes: