Monday, September 5, 2011

4-H Fair Oatmeal Bread

     I had such high hopes when I came across this recipe, after all what could possibly go wrong with this tried and true, 4-H, baking 101 recipe?  I followed the instructions to the letter.  My heart skipped a beat as I watched the yeast bubble to life in the warm water.  I let my Kitchen Aid do all the work, kneading away as I added the full five cups of flour.  The dough looked wonderfully smooth and elastic, I knew I was on the right track.  After an hour the dough had doubled in size, I punched it down and gently placed it in my 12 inch deep oven.  The anticipation of a perfectly baked, golden loaf was almost too much to bear.  I know enough now not to lift the lid too early.  After 25 minutes, as I was doing the dishes, disaster struck.  The aroma of burning bread wafting through the kitchen window hit me like a ton of bricks.  Horrors!  I dashed out to check the oven, lifted the lid only to find the mother of all oatmeal breads, more than doubled in size and singed to the lid.  My heart sank then laughed as I flipped my monster loaf out of the oven to cool.  Another lesson learned the hard way.  My mistake was in not dividing the dough and baking two loaves seperately.  On to Plan B.
     My second attempt at baking this bread was a lot more succesful.  It was a warm and muggy day which meant I needed about 5 and a half cups of flour to get the dough to the smooth and elastic stage.  I divided it in half and baked one loaf in my 12 inch deep oven and the other in my 12 inch regular oven.  I started with 10 coals in a ring around both ovens with 20 on the lid of the regular one and 24 on the lid of the deeper model.  I checked the loaves after 30 minutes and decided at the rate my coals were burning they needed one final shot of heat.  I added 8-10 coals in a ring on both oven lids which browned them off beautifully.  The total cooking time for both loaves was 45 minutes.  This is a great first time recipe for a beginning baker.  Mix the dough, knead for 10 minutes, let it rise for an hour and bake.  The honey brings a touch of sweetness to this substantial bread, soft on the inside and chewy on the outside, tuck this time tested bread away in your recipe box.  Oh, and it makes really great toast.  From Heartland; The Best of the Old and the New from Midwest Kitchens by Marcia Adams.

4-H Fair Oatmeal Bread
2 cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 Tblsp salt
1/2 cup honey
2 Tblsp butter or margarine, melted
4-5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten with 2 Tblsp water

     In a large mixer bowl, pour the boiling water over the oats and let the mixture rest until the oats are completely softened, about 30 minutes. 
     In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the water and allow to stand 10 minutes. 
     To the oat mixture, add the salt, honey, and melted butter or margarine; combine, then stir in the yeast. 
     Gradually add enough flour to make the dough kneadable.  Knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed.  The dough should be elastic, soft and smooth.
     Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface.  Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour. 
     Lightly oil or spray 12 inch dutch ovens.
     After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and divide into 2 parts.  Shape into loaves and place into dutch ovens.
     There is no need for further rising.  Brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with additional oats on top.  Bake for about 50 minutes at 325 degrees or until golden brown.  Tip bread out onto a wire rack to cool. 

First attempt, a giant loaf with a blackened crust

On the second try, two smaller loaves

After 45 minutes in the 12 inch deep oven, crust browned more evenly

In the 12 inch regular oven

A sweet, hearty bread with a soft crumb and chewy crust


  1. Wow, I'm seriously impressed. I'll definitely try this bread.

  2. Thanks Mark, coming from you that's quite a compliment, Liddy