Which brings me to my kitchen. Of course, we have to keep eating (and that food calendar is very handy right now). Most days, we have sandwiches for lunch. And because bread is not optional for sandwiches, I took some time out last weekend to make Colonial Oatmeal Bread.
I make this bread for several reasons. First, it is wonderful. It is so tender and flavorful. Second, it is an escape; it takes me to my childhood when my dad would make this and we would eat buttered slices straight out of the oven while it was still warm (This was before the days when there were four bakeries in every neighborhood offering freshly baked breads of every variety.). When I am in the midst of five different theological books, each slightly out of my grasp at points, it is good to have something simple and good for which I can praise God. Third, because we just plain need bread for sandwiches, and I wouldn't rather have any other bread to get me through the day.
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two packages)
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
2 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (more or less)
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
In a medium bowl (or in a saucepan), heat the butter and honey until the butter is melted. Remove from heat. Add the water; the mixture should be warm (110-120 degrees). Stir in the yeast and let sit until bubbly, about 10 minutes (this is called making a sponge).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine salt, 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour. With mixer on low, gradually blend liquid into dry ingredients until just blended. Increase the speed to medium, beat two minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Gradually beat in egg and one cup whole wheat flour to make a thick batter. Continue beating two minutes. Stir in oats, 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour. Knead till smooth and elastic. Use more flour if too sticky (I usually have to add about 2/3 cup more).
Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down. Turn onto floured surface; cover with bowl and let rise 15 minutes. Shape into loaves and let rise 1 hour in greased 9 x 5 loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes.