Bread-baking in our household has mostly been limited to the irresistibly easy and delicious No-Knead Bread; when you know you can spend approximately four minutes and bake a loaf that tastes better than anything from any boulangerie in town it's a little hard to experiment with something else.
But the lean, rustic dough of no-knead bread is not well-suited to a sandwich loaf. It's designed to have those big, delicious air pockets inside, and a chewy middle with a crispy crust. Non-enriched, simple doughs also have a very short shelf life.
We wanted something that would last for a few days as we slowly toasted it up for breakfast, and also have a softer, finer crumb that would hold together for toast and sandwiches.
We stumbled across a bread recipe, then, that promised all of these things. What's more - it involved oats. We were instantly hooked. We love the toasty, hearty taste of oats in our sandwich and toasting bread; they have a soft sweetness that always comes through. They're incredibly good for you too, of course. Plus, this recipe, from Farmgirl Fare, is specifically designed for toasting. We were in!
A trip to the co-op ensued; we got oat bran and whole wheat bread flour for extra healthy points. The dough mixed up easily in our new KitchenAid mixer - all three loaves! Even in spite of our klutzy addition of two much water (and, subsquently, too much flour and yeast) this bread turned out beautifully, reinforcing our private opinion that it's really, really hard to screw up bread.
It rose into yeasty unbaked loaves, beautiful in the pans, and baked in less than 40 minutes into the loaves you see here.
And how does it taste? Scrumptious!! Chewy, soft, and moist - thanks to the oats, butter, and a little brown sugar. The oats sit and soften for awhile in boiling water before the dough is mixed up; they make this bread so tender and delicious.
We're very glad we baked three loaves; we're giving one away, but hoarding the other in the freezer. Although, really, it won't be so hard to whip up another batch.
Have you baked bread lately? Give this a try! Or try out one of our easy no-knead recipes.
(Images: Faith Durand)