Honey Oatmeal Bread

I love oatmeal. My kids love oatmeal. It is one of those comforting foods that reminds me of childhood. When I was little, my grandma used to make giant pots of oatmeal on the stove, which she called “mush.” I remember picking fresh raspberries to add to my “mush” from her raspberry bushes. My mom, also an oatmeal lover, would serve our oatmeal with a bowl of brown sugar and a miniature pitcher of fresh, heavy cream. What little kid wouldn’t want to put mounds of brown sugar and cream on oats with a few raspberries thrown in? It was heaven!

I am sorry to say that when I became a mom my kids did not have the same access to the mounds of brown sugar and heavy cream that I did as a child (eeek!). Instead I love mixing their oatmeal with applesauce, fresh berries and a small teaspoon of brown sugar on the top. My kids still love it and I can rest a little easier knowing it is healthier than what I was served as a child! All this to say that we love anything oats around our house…and this honey oat bread is no exception.

I love the texture the oats bring to this bread and the subtle sweetness from the honey (or brown sugar if you choose). I pulse the oats in a blender before adding them to this recipe, which breaks them down a bit and lends to a more tender crumb. This bread is so delicious straight out of the oven, or even a few days later if you slice and freeze it. It is soft, tender but still sturdy enough for sandwiches. I think it’s almost as good as a bowl of hot oatmeal with some cream and sugar. I hope you enjoy it too.

Yield: 2 loaves of bread

Time: 10 minute mix, 2-3 hours rise, 35-40 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned (rolled) oats
  • 2 ½ cups warm water
  • 6 Tablespoons honey (or brown sugar)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 4 to 4 ½ cups bread flour

Directions:

Let the dough rise just a little above the loaf pan before baking. It will rise more in the oven.
  1. Pour your oats into a blender and pulse a couple of times. You want to break down the oats just a little bit. You will still have some bigger oats but most of them will be fairly small.
  2. Mix the warm water, instant yeast and sugar in a stand mixer and let sit for a minute. If you are using dry active yeast, allow this mixture to sit for 5 minutes until the yeast has fully activated. 
  3. With the dough hook running on the mixer, add the vegetable oil, salt, lightly ground oats and flour a cup at a time. As the dough comes together, continue adding flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. I tend to add flour based on feel instead of measurement. The dough should be a little sticky but easy to work with. 
  4. After kneading for 5 minutes, pull off a small chunk of dough and roll it into a ball. If it rolls into a ball with a little residue left on your fingers, you don’t need to add anymore flour.
  5. Put a drop of oil in a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise in a warm place. To encourage rising I will sometimes turn the light on in my oven (don’t turn the oven on) and place my covered dough inside the oven (not directly under the light). This acts as a “proofing” box and will keep the temperature warm for a quicker rise.
  6. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn the dough out onto the counter. Cut the dough in half (this recipe makes two loaves of bread) and working with the first half, shape into a rectangle. You will be rolling the dough into a cylinder shape. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up the dough. Take care to press in the dough at the seam after each roll and pinch the seam closed at the end.
  7. Transfer the dough, seam side-down to a bread pan. I use an 8.5 by 4.5 bread pan. Repeat with the second loaf of bread. Cover and let rise again, about an hour in a warm place. The dough should just rise a little bit over the top of the bread pan (it will rise more in the oven). 
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top. Top with melted butter if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: If you’d like to add some nuts, seeds or dried fruit to this recipe, I think they would work well here. Add them in after the first rise when you deflate the dough, shape it and put it in the pans to rise. You can also egg wash the top of the bread loaves and add some oats to the top if you wish.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Easy White Dinner Rolls

Did you grow up eating a special weekly dinner with your family? Maybe every night was a home-cooked meal. In my family we would look forward to the weekly Sunday dinners my dad cooked. It usually consisted of meat and potatoes or “rice-a-roni” (my childhood favorite). We would sit at our big dining room table and pass around plates of steaming hot food, family-style. Green beans, cheesy broccoli, pan fried pork, salmon, steak, the list goes on. Every Sunday was a little bit different but always delicious. When I started contributing to the meal I’d often make crescent rolls or bake some bread using our ancient bread machine. If only I’d had the recipe for these easy white rolls, I’m sure they would have made many appearances at our dinner table.

These rolls are fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness and one of the simplest recipes you can make. If you’re looking for an easy, crowd-pleasing recipe to start with, make these! They won’t disappoint. You can even make them into hamburger buns (my favorite is with pulled pork and coleslaw on top) or with a dab of butter inside. Whatever way you choose to eat them pull out these simple SIX ingredients and get baking. 

Notes: I always double this recipe and make a big batch of these rolls because my kids gobble them up. They are easy to freeze, a big crowd pleaser and let’s face it…when I don’t know what to make for dinner and can pull these out to put with some fruit, nuts and meat my kids think my kitchen skills are top notch 🙂 I also portion my rolls fairly small. You can change the portion size depending on your preference. If you do, you may need to adjust for baking time.

Yield: 24 small rolls

Time: 15 minutes mix/knead, 2 hours rise, 10-12 minutes bake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar (honey, or other sweetener)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or any other neutral oil)
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 -4 cups all purpose flour (I’ve made them with whole wheat flour before too, they won’t be quite as fluffy…half whole wheat and half all purpose will yield best results and adding a little vital wheat gluten helps with the tenderness)

Directions

1. Mix together water, instant yeast, sugar, olive oil, salt and 3 cups of flour. Use a mixer or your hands. As you add in your final cup of flour, check the dough. If it’s overly sticky, keep adding flour. The dough should be able to roll into a ball in your hand but should still be a little sticky. That’s the feeling you are looking for. Continue mixing the dough (mixer with dough hook or attachment) 3-5 minutes OR turn it out on a floured surface and knead about 5 minutes. Add more flour as needed (it should still be a little sticky but form a ball).

2. Put a teaspoon of oil in a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Coat the dough with the small amount of oil (this keeps the dough from sticking to the bowl). Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place about an hour or until doubled in size. 

3. Turn risen dough out onto your workspace and portion into 24 pieces. I eyeball the dough and use my dough cutter (or a sharp knife). If you use a kitchen scale each ball should be about 1.4 ounces.

4. Shape each piece of dough into a round ball and place on parchment-lined (this keeps the bottoms from burning) baking sheet. Your baking sheet should be able to fit 24 of these rolls. Check out my Instagram tutorial “Easiest Rolls” for shaping help.

5. Cover the baking sheet with a kitchen towel and let rolls rise until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once rolls have doubled in size bake for about 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through if possible. Once the rolls brown on top, pull them out of the oven and brush melted butter on the tops. For convenience I take a stick of cold butter from my fridge and lightly touch the tops of the hot rolls for the perfect shine.

7. Enjoy warm, at room temperature or freeze a few for later. Enjoy!

If you’re looking for a simple recipe to start with, don’t hesitate to make these delicious rolls. They are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser and a great way to get your feet wet in baking with yeast. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions so shoot me a message or let me know in the comments if you give them a try. Yum!

Recipe Source Notes: Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (if you don’t follow her, you should…she’s an inspiration with all of her amazing recipes). I’ve made these so many times that I’ve upped the salt, altered the baking time and size of the rolls I bake.

Flour, Water, Yeast & Salt

Why I love bread and why I want to share that love with you

When I was a child I used to dream about bread. My obsession probably began living in Germany at a young age with a “Baeckerei” around every corner. Fresh baked bread was so delightful with a pat of butter (unsalted all the way). I loved picking up a local “broetchen” (small, circular German bread roll), adding my favorite cheese and going to town. My mom would pack my lunchbox with daily salami and butter sandwiches on crusty bread and to this day it’s one of my go-to comfort foods. 

Me (right) with my sister in our dirndls, as children living in Germany
Brotchen and Butterkaese, my favorite comfort food

As I aged I started my own culinary journey. I was mesmerized by the simplicity of flour, water, salt and yeast. I spent countless hours making homemade pizza on a rectangular baking sheet, dissecting my family’s ancient bread machine and mixing up creations in my childhood kitchen. My best friend and I had dreams of opening our own bakery by the ocean one day…oh the dreams of a teenager! 

Crazy teenager…heading to college 🙂

When I was in college, baking took a bit of a back seat to my studies, but I never lost the desire to bake and create even in a little dorm kitchen (banana bread anyone?!). I married shortly before graduating and then the real fun began…setting up my own kitchen and learning how to bake when I wasn’t teaching elementary school. We welcomed our daughter over ten years ago and I quit my day-job for a new day-job with her at home. My daughter was not quite two when we moved away from family and the western United States to begin a new adventure in Kentucky; the beautiful Bluegrass region.

Shortly after we were blessed with twin boys and even though we survived off freezer meals for the first year of their lives (luckily I have photos to remember that time…everything is so hazy), I continued baking. I spent hours willing my twins to sleep while researching how to grow my own natural leaven and then baking loaf after loaf of sourdough bread with toddlers running between my legs. I started teaching my kids the wonderful world of flour, water, yeast and salt as we created loaves and gifted them to those we loved or knew could use a pick-me-up. This small act of service helped us make friends and feel at home in our new state.

Our young family was given the opportunity to live abroad in Japan and we learned so much from the beautiful culture, kind people and opportunities to travel. We sampled delicious pastries, breads and treats from Japanese bakeries and learned to love rice, noodles and fish. I navigated the world of “hard and soft” flour and learned how to bake a batch of cookies using Japanese ingredients (lots of consumed cookie dough in that trial and error process). My bread baking days took quite the back seat for the year and a half we lived abroad because ingredients were so hard to come by, not to mention $$$. We welcomed our final baby boy during our last few months in Japan and celebrated with delicious naan bread from our favorite local Indian restaurant. 

Moving back to Kentucky brought new challenges with growing kids, making friends, a new house and teaching my kids to love whole wheat everything again; in Japan it was hard to come by. We spent our first summer with the kids out of school baking together every week and I taught my kids the basics: how to smell the ripeness of the yeast, where our flour comes from (our local mill) and how to knead a loaf of bread. Passing this tradition of bread baking to my kids and tasting the love from the hands that have kneaded and worked the bread is part of what makes bread so comforting. Bread takes time. Time to mix. Time to knead. Time to rise. Time to shape. Time to bake. Relationships take time.

Which brings me to today. Why start a blog today? 

My goal is to share with you tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way, and am continuing to learn, and empower you wherever you may fall on the baking spectrum–novice to expert. Get in the kitchen. Grab some flour, water, yeast and salt, and bake. Bake with your kids, your families, your significant other or by yourself. Create the memories. Make the messes and enjoy the experience of a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Ask questions and follow along as we use this space to share recipes, memories, tips, traditions and culture around a little bit of flour, water, yeast and salt.

Happy Baking

-Amy