Oatmeal bread combines the nutritious nuttiness of whole grains with the moistness of white bread. Because of the addition of oats — either in the form of oat flour or whole oats — oatmeal bread has a slightly denser texture than white bread. It also has a nuttier flavor and a honey color. Oatmeal bread can be used like white or whole wheat bread, and it’s as simple to make as a loaf of white bread.
Flour and Oats
Because oats naturally contain no gluten, you must use some white or whole wheat flour to help the bread rise. Mix rolled oats or oat flour with white or whole wheat flour in a 1-to-3 ratio. Rolled oats, also known as “old-fashioned” or “quick” oats, add texture and crunch to the finished loaf. Quick-cook oats are smaller and thinner, so they will have less chew than old-fashioned oats, which are broader and denser. Oat flour, which is made of ground whole oats, produces a loaf with a less chewy texture. You can also use other varieties of oats, including whole oat groats and steel cut oats, but keep in mind that these oats are denser and may produce a bread with a crunchier and chewier texture.
Yeast and Moisture
Use instant yeast for oatmeal bread, as it is not traditionally a sourdough bread. Activate the yeast as you would for a loaf of white bread, mixing it with lukewarm water and either brown sugar or honey. The extra flavor from these sugars — rather than white sugar — pairs well with the nuttiness of oatmeal. You can also increase the sweetness of your oatmeal bread by adding apple sauce. Brown sugar and fruit sauces not only increase flavor and sweetness in your oatmeal bread, but they also increase moisture content. This is helpful as the lower gluten content of oatmeal bread means the bread can dry out more quickly than a white or whole wheat loaf.
Kneading and Rising
Knead the oatmeal bread dough as you would white or whole wheat bread. You can use an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, or knead it by hand. When the dough becomes stiffer and drier and has a springy feel when poked, it’s ready. For optimal results, let the dough rest for 10 to 30 minutes prior to kneading, after the ingredients have just been mixed together. Because of the lower gluten content and the higher sugar content, oatmeal bread dough takes longer to rise. Let it rise twice, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel, at room temperature. Deflate the dough between rises. A single loaf will take upwards of 2 hours to rise each time, and longer if the room temperature is cold.
Baking and Serving
Bake the oatmeal loaf in a greased bread pan or shaped into a round loaf on a clay baking round. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prior to baking, brush the top with milk and scatter oats — steel cut or old-fashioned are best — on top. The milk will help the crust brown during baking. Let the bread cool completely before slicing. Stored properly in a plastic bag or well-wrapped at room temperature, so the bread will stay fresh for several days.
References and ResourcesWhole Grains Council: Types of Oats
Quaker Oats: Slow or No Rise
King Arthur Flour: Honey Oatmeal Bread
King Arthur Flour: Back-of-the-Bag Oatmeal Bread
Serious Eats: Breadmaking 101