Bread of life

The recipe came originally from the King Arthur Flour catalog. So, eventually, did the Saf-Instant yeast that  works like magic. I love King Arthur, even though the Bread Baker of the house tends to grab the new mailings and drool over them as if they featured naked women instead of luscious baked goods.

This remarkable bread is dense without being heavy.

When someone requested his recipe for this dense, easy, nutritious and, most of all, delicious oat-wheat bread, he suggested I call it “Any Fool Can Make It” bread. Indeed, there’s no such thing as a failure here — it’s an intensely forgiving procedure for making the kind of bread that college students dream of eating warm from the oven with a bowl of home-made soup when they come home from a week of finals fueled by snacking and take-out only.

No-Knead Oat Bread

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur being my flour of choice)

1 cup traditional whole-wheat or white whole-wheat flour (ditto)

1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted soft butter

2 teaspoons salt (you do need it all!)

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

2-1/4 cups cool water

Put all ingredients in large bowl. Stir, then use your hands or a stand mixer with dough hook to mix up a sticky dough. Continue to work the dough enough to incorporate all the flour or beat for several minutes in a stand mixer. (Last night the Bread Baker explained to me how and why you can overbeat the dough in your KitchenAid. Don’t.)

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature overnight or for at least 8 hours. It will become bubbly and rise quite a bit so make sure your bowl is large enough at the start.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. To make single loaf, use a 14- to 15-inch-long lidded stoneware baker; a 9- to 12-inch oval deep casserole dish with cover; or a 9- to 10-inch round lidded baking crock. (I use my mother’s cast-iron Dutch oven.)

Shape dough to fit and place in lightly greased pan of your choice, smooth side up. Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, until dough becomes puffy and fills pan about three-quarters full.

Garnish by sprinkling a handful of oats on top, if desired. If baking a round loaf, slash a hash mark pattern (#) on top.

Place pan in cold oven. Set oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake bread for 45 to 50 minutes, then remove lid and continue to bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, until bread is deep brown and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers about 205 degrees.

Remove bread from oven, turn out onto rack and directions say to cool before slicing, but that is just “kwazy,” as our granddaughter Ashley used to say about everything. Slice and eat immediately, the more butter, the better.

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