After my disastrous Portuguese Sweet Bread experiment, I wanted to redeem myself with another recipe from the “Sweeter Side” chapter in the Bread Illustrated cookbook. The oatmeal raisin bread recipe seemed approachable and foolproof – plus, I happen to love oatmeal and raisins.
Similar to the quinoa loaf I made awhile back (I actually make this one every few weeks – it’s really tasty), this recipes gets a little boost of moisture, only instead of quinoa, it uses oatmeal. You make the oatmeal ahead of time, then incorporate it into the dough as it comes together.
Step one is to make the oatmeal. The recipes calls for old-fashioned rolled oats and cautions against using instant or quick oats, which evidently make the loaf “stodgy”. I’m not exactly sure what stodgy bread tastes like, but I certainly didn’t want to find out, so I bought the right kind of oats.
I made the oatmeal and while I was waiting for it to cool, I melted the requisite three tablespoons of butter. I’ve found a little hack to get my milk to room temperature quickly: often, a recipe that calls for room temperature milk also includes melted butter. I pour the milk into a metal bowl and I place it on the turned off, but still-warm stove element that I used to melt the butter. Boom.
The wet (melted butter, milk, and a bit of brown sugar disintegrated into the mix) gets kneaded into the dry (bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt), then the oatmeal gets added in bit by bit. Then, it’s time to toss in the raisins.
Of course, no bread making process can go perfectly – not under my watch, at least. As I prepared to measure out half a cup of raisins, I was horrified to discover I’d accidentally bought prunes. They must have been hidden among the raisins at Craig’s. I texted my sister to see if I might be able to substitute finely chopped prunes in place of raisins. She told me that it sounded disgusting, so I covered my partially mixed dough and ran to the store to acquire raisins.
Crisis averted. I mixed the raisins in, kneaded the loaf a little by hand, let it rise for an hour and a half, then rolled it into a log that looked kind of like a sad, cute animal.
The recipe calls for spraying the loaf with water then rolling it in oats. Check out this action shot: imagine the skills that were involved in taking the picture while simultaneously spraying the spritzer bottle. That is art.
I popped the oat-y log into a loaf pan, let it rise while the oven preheated, then baked it for 45 minutes.
The result? A lovely little oatmeal raisin loaf. No surprises here – in a good way.
The loaf shed quite a few of the oats as I cut through it, but I have to admit they make the loaf look rather pretty. As for the taste, here’s are some of my notes:
- This isn’t the most exciting loaf, but it’s good. The best way I can think of describing it is “Grandma-y”.
- I love the raisins and would probably add more next time.
- The oatmeal doesn’t come through in the taste (I mean, oatmeal doesn’t have a particularly strong taste), but it does add a lot of moisture.
- I think spices would kick it up a notch – cinnamon, nutmeg, something like that – but the book already has a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread, so I won’t fault it.
In short, I will have no problem eating my way through this tasty little loaf.
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