Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup coarse rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees approximately)
1 cup warm milk
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 dark brown sugar
4-5 cups all-purpose flour, approximately.

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the oats in the boiling water until thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, stir the yeast and teaspoon of sugar into the warm water until dissolved, and allow to proof. Add the warm milk, salt, brown sugar, and yeast mixture to the oats and stir well, then stir in 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time.

Turn out on a floured board. Knead into a smooth pliable, elastic dough, if necessary using as much as 1/2 to 1 cup, or more, of additional flour to get it to the right feel. (This will take about 10 minutes, unless you do it in an electric mixer with a dough hook, which is what my wife did). Shape the dough into a ball, put into a well-buttered bowl, and turn to coat on all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch the dough down. Knead for 2 or 3 minutes and shape into two loaves. Thoroughly butter two 8 x 4 x 2-inch tins. Place the dough in the tins, cover, and let rise in a warm place until about even with the top of the tins, or almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, place the bread in the center of the lowest rack, and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on top and bottom with the knuckles. Return the loaves without the tins to the oven rack to bake for about 5 minutes and acquire a firmer crust. Remove the loaves to a rack to cool.

Note: If you want a very soft top crust, brush the loaves with melted butter when you bring them out of the oven.

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