Happy Groundhog’s Day! I wish I had something witty to say about American Sandwich Bread. Just kidding, it is, in fact, the day after Groundhog’s Day—and while the Sandwich Bread recipe shall repeat itself today, as many of our days seem to repeat themselves, there is an added element, a garnish, which does make all the difference— oatmeal, a compound which evokes in me a nostalgia most everyone else attaches to dark chocolate.
Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
- 2 tsp table salt
- 1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 package or 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- ¾ cup boiling hot water
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat. I use the proof setting on my oven which maintains the heat at 85 degrees F so if your kitchen is warm enough, there is no need to use the oven for proofing – just keep the bowl in a draft-free area of the kitchen.
- Boil ¾ cup water and add oats to cook for 90 seconds.
- Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add oats to the flour mixture. Mix milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn mixer to low and slowly add liquid. When dough comes together, remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook – the dough will be very sticky at this point. Increase speed to medium (setting number 4 on a KitchenAid mixer) and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. If, after 5 minutes the dough still sticks to the side of the bowl, add another 1/4 cup of flour to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.
- Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap; place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a rectangle, 1-inch thick and no wider than 9 inches long, with the long side closest to you. Next, starting with the long side, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pinching the seam with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn dough seam side up and pinch it closed. Place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and press gently so dough touches all four sides of pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot (not in the oven) until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust the racks to the center and bottom positions. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.
- Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven and immediately pour heated water into empty baking pan; close oven door. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees F, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve
This was a far superior sandwich bread to yesterday’s white. 3.5 stars. And the steam element is really a startling science. Baking Illustrated discusses the various “steam” methods they attempted, spraying the dough with water before putting it in the oven, placing a pan of steaming hot water in the oven under the baking bread loaf, throwing ice cubes into the oven floor, or just spraying a mist of water into the oven before inserting the loaf and then a few minutes after it has been baking. The crust that begins to form on dough as it bakes can make it harder for the loaf to rise. Spraying the loaf with water creates steam. This keeps the outer skin of the loaf moist and flexible, and helps it rise to its maximum volume with a good shape. Steam also encourages starch granules on the surface of the loaf to fully gelatinize, though I don’t yet understand the chemistry here, which gives the crust its crispy texture. Great toasted with peanut butter.