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Oatmeal Bread

This is a recipe I converted from a bread I grew up making, taught to me by my dear mother. We believed at the time that in order to have tender bread, one could only use a cup or two of whole wheat flour. So that version looked more nutritious than it was, made with white flour and brown sugar. I remember loving this bread with jam, or as a sandwich, so that's what inspired the conversion:

2 c boiling water (3 if you prefer to use no milk)
1.5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats* (or 134g groats, coarsely milled)
1 tablespoon salt

*I am now using coarsely milled integral oats, for a grain loses most of its nutrition within a short time of the seed being broken.
Mill oats into a small mixing bowl, and add salt & boiling water. Whisk quickly to avoid lumps forming. Cover with a dinner plate and allow to cool naturally. Once cooled, pour into stand mixer bowl, and add
1 cup raw milk/buttermilk
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs

Mix well (I usually use my danish dough whisk instead of the dough hook for this) then add:

5 cups integral spelt flour (freshly milled; completely cooled)
Using the dough hook, combine just until all flour is mixed in. Allow to rest 1 hour, softening the bran. 
Then add:
1 cup active leaven
1/2 cup butter, very soft

Knead at least 5 minutes.  You want smooth dough with plenty of gluten development, climbing the hook, releasing the side of the bowl as you scrape with a spatula. If the dough still drops quickly when the hook is raised or the stirring stops, add up to 1 more cup of flour to help it come together a bit more.

Dump the dough into a greased bowl, smooth out top surface then cover and allow to ferment for 7-10 hours, or until doubled. I like to ferment around 68℉.

>>If you would like a more "classic"(sweet) sandwich bread flavor, add 2 teaspoons baking soda to the dough after bulk fermentation, knead throughout, allow to rest for about 10 minutes, then proceed to shaping<<

Once doubled, scrape dough out onto a nonporous surface, split into two loaves, preshape each by folding in thirds, and allow to “bench rest” for 5-10 minutes. Final shape, pull tight and lift each into buttered loaf pans. 
Proof in the oven (I use my proof setting)  for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400℉ with a large metal pan on the lower rack, and the upper rack slightly higher than center. Also, boil some water in a tea kettle on the stove.

Brush the tops of proofed loaves with buttermilk.

After you place the loaves on the upper rack, pour boiling water into hot pan, then bake 10 minutes at 400℉, then drop to 350 ℉ for 38 more minutes. Cover with foil for the last 40 or so minutes if you prefer a lighter loaf. 

Rub a stick of butter over top crust when the loaves are done, and remove from loaf pans about 10 minutes after they come out of the oven.


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