"Ugh, those shoes are so old fashioned!"
"My goodness, what an old-fashioned idea!"
"Good morning dear, would you like some old-fashioned warm bread for breakfast?"
Now, looking at those three statements, two of them don't have very good connotations; but one of them brings to mind something you do want in your life from times past. Old-fashioned doesn't have to mean dull, boring and outdated; it can mean comfort at its finest – especially when it comes to food.
I don't know many people who would want Uncle Bob's platform shoes from the ’70s, or folks who think that women still get the vapors. But I do know many, many friends who would gladly sit down to a meal with Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread – breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There's something about the nuttiness of oats combined with the bittersweet taste of molasses that causes us to pause a bit in our rush-rush lives. Our shoulders relax while our brows un-furrow. We reach for a second cup of tea, and give in to the desire to curl up with a good book instead of tweet and twerk our way through another day. If this is old-fashioned, I'll take it.
While you certainly don't have to go back to hauling water from the spring and stone-grinding your flours, you can make this Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread entirely by hand. Keep in mind that it's fairly sticky and you may need to oil or grease your hands and work surface to make kneading easier. I choose to use my trusty bread machine on the dough cycle for the mixing, kneading, and first rise.
Into the bucket of your bread machine or your mixing bowl, put the following:
1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned preferably, or quick; not instant)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses or dark corn syrup
1 1/3 cups boiling water
While normally we recommend using a liquid measuring cup for oils, I found I could use my 1/4 cup dry measure for the oil; which enabled the sticky molasses to slip right out. Pouring the last of the boiling water into the cup rinsed it nearly clean, making my tidying up quick and easy.
Allow the oat mixture to sit at room temperature to soften the oats, absorb liquid, and cool down, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the rest of the dough ingredients:
2 3/4 cups (11 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup Baker's Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver
The Whole-Grain Bread Improver is optional and can be left out. However, it does help the heavier loaf get a nice lift.
Be sure to check your dough as it's kneading in the machine, and adjust the flour and water as needed. The dough should be on the sticky side, and wetter than your basic white bread dough. See how it sticks to my fingers when I touch the dough? That's what we're shooting for.
Allow the machine to complete its dough cycle. Or let the bread rise in a greased, covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes. It's not the fastest riser in the world, and probably won't double; but it should get nice and puffy.
Holy Monster Dough, Batman! No worries, this was from my testing a double batch of the recipe. It fits in the bread machine for rising, but just barely!
Gently deflate the dough. Shape it into a log and place it in a well-greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. Cover the pan and allow the bread to rise for 45 to 60 minutes. At the top of its crown, the bread should be about 1" over the rim of the pan.
A little reminder that oats are good for your heart, straight from the source.
Bake the loaf in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 minutes. A digital thermometer will register 190°F when inserted into the bread's center. This bread can brown quickly, so do check during the baking time, and tent the bread lightly with foil if needed.
When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will still be fairly delicate. I find cooling it on its side for about 15 minutes helps prevent the soft loaf from sagging. After that you can stand your loaf up to cool, or leave it lying down; baker's choice.
All in all, not too bad for a day of good old-fashioned baking. I think I'll grab my knitting while I wait for my bread to cool. I may have spun the yarn myself on a real wooden spinning wheel, but did I mention my needles are made from carbon fiber, same material jets are made from? Hey, remember, not everything we do has to be old-fashioned!
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