I'm standing in my local grocery store, staring down the small loaf of raisin bread that is $4/loaf. I'm thinking, I don't have time to bake today, I should just buy it. For a moment, I almost give in. Then I take a deep breath and walk away, determined to make something cheaper and better. What a snob I've become. Wait a minute, do snobs really buy Western Family mac & cheese? Because that's what in my cart. I'm a conflicted woman.
I flipped through my beloved but neglected Baking in America, and found a recipe for oatmeal raisin bread. For you oatmeal haters out there, you really need to give this a try. There is no chunky oatmeal texture - it sort of just melts away into the dough and mellows out the whole wheat flavor. This dough uses whole wheat and white flour, oatmeal, and maple syrup for sweetness, so it's a great food storage recipe. I'm sure you could swap out the butter and milk for oil and powdered milk if you wanted.
Oatmeal Raisin Loaves
2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. cups quick oats (not instant)
4 T. butter
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/4 t. yeast (1 pkg.)
2 large eggs
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. water, plus more if needed (note: I used the soaking liquid from the raisins)
1 T. salt
3 1/2 c. white flour
1 1/2 c. golden and/or dark raisins (I soak the raisins to plump them up and use the soaking liquid for the water. I also give the raisins a rough chop before adding them to the dough.)
1. Bring milk to almost a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the oats and butter. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the butter melts. Cool until mixture feels just barely warm to the touch.
2. In a stand mixer scrape the oatmeal mixture into the mixing bowl and add the whole wheat flour, yeast, and eggs. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes. Scrap the bowl and beater. (You could also do this by hand if you have those "Arm & Hammer" arms). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp. until almost tripled in volume, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
3. Stir in maple syrup, 1/4 c. water, slat, and 1 c. white flour into the oatmeal mixture. Attach the dough hook, and kneading on low speed, add the remaining 2.5 cups. flour, (Note: I did not need to add all 3.5 cups flour.) 1/2 c. at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase the speed to medium and continue to knead 5 to 8 minutes until dough almost cleans the sides of the bowl and feels firm, smooth and elastic. Add a small amount of water or flour if necessary.
4. Oil a large bowl or container and transfer the dough to the bowl. Let rise at room temp. until almost tripled in volume, about 2 hours.
5. Butter or grease two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Knead raisins into risen dough and divide in half. Shape into loaves, place them in the pans, cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until centers have risen about 1-2 inches above the rims of the pans, about 1 hour.
6. About 30 minutes before the loaves are ready to bake, place them in the oven, leaving a few inches between the pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaves are well browned and sound hollow when you remove them from the pans and rap their bottoms. Naughtly loaves! Cool completely, if you can stand it, then wrap until airtight. Can store in freezer up to 1 month.