Top | The Feast Nearby
(recipe, Robin Mather)
This is my go-to bread, the recipe I make most frequently. It's sturdy enough to stand up to sandwiches, but also makes good toast, and is savory enough, despite the honey, to complement any meal.
A loaf baked in a 9-by-5-inch pan will just fit into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag (you might have to eat a couple of slices first to shorten the loaf, poor you!). And because the honey attracts moisture, the bread will keep for up to a week stored that way. It's always long gone before it can go stale, at least in my house.
- 1¼ cups whole milk, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 cup rolled oats (not instant), plus more for sprinkling if using the egg wash
- 3 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted and cooled
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1 large egg, for the optional egg wash
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, scald the milk by cooking until steam begins to rise from it. Remove from the heat and let cool to about body temperature. Stir in the sugar and yeast; let stand for 10 minutes, or until the yeast mixture is creamy and bubbly.
- Combine the flour and rolled oats in a large mixing bowl. Add the honey, butter, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Pour in the milk mixture. Stir to combine, adding more room-temperature milk if necessary to achieve a stiff dough. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and, with floured hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball, tucking the ends under the ball's bottom.
- Wash the bowl in which you mixed the dough, dry it, and oil it lightly with a neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or soybean. Put the dough in the bowl, seam side up, and twirl it around so the top of the dough is lightly greased. Flip the dough ball over so the seam is on the bottom. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
- Lightly oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Punch down the dough with your fist. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead well. It should not be sticky at this point; sprinkle the ball with flour lightly it it is. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in the prepared pan, seam side down. Lightly oil the top of the loaf and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it sounds hollow when thumped with a finger. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and continue to let cool.
- If you wish to use the optional egg wash, in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes initially, remove from the oven, brush with the egg wash, and scatter additional oats over the top of the loaf. Return the loaf to the oven to continue baking.