It's not fancy, but it does the job perfectly.
I've baked a lot of bread over the years. From chewy slow-rise baguettes and sourdoughs to dinner rolls, sticky buns, and focaccia, working with yeasted bread dough feels very natural to me. And yet, despite my experience with so many different recipes and techniques, there is one bread that I keep coming back to, and that is the humble oatmeal loaf.
This bread is nothing special. In fact, it's about as basic as a loaf of bread can get. It doesn't taste as ethereal as the long-fermented doughs I sometimes make, nor does it have the crispy, crackly crust of a baguette baked on stone in a steam-filled oven. It's a throwback to my early baking days, before I knew what words like 'sponge', 'biga,' 'autolyse,' and 'proofing' meant, back when I still felt intimidated by bread dough.
I keep coming back to this recipe because it is easy, straightforward, and fast -- all important priorities in my busy parenting life. It requires only two quick rises, which means a batch of dough prepared after breakfast can be ready for lunch. The end result is good, dense, hearty, filling up my eternally hungry children. It keeps well for several days, makes great sandwiches and toast, and freezes beautifully. Best of all, this bread can be made using leftover porridge from breakfast, in place of the soaked oats. It's a real workhorse in my household, and I hope it will become so in yours, too, after you give it a try.
The recipe comes from the 1976 cookbook, "More With Less," by Doris Janzen Longacre.