If you are a fellow Secret Midnight Baker
, beware. This may wake up your sleeping loved ones.
What you'll need
What you'll do
I would highly recommend using a mixer with this recipe. The oatmeal and molasses produce a sticky dough. Most of the breads I make I mix, fold and knead by hand and wooden spoon. Because I am not a fan of constantly scraping my hands of dough, I use my trusty Kitchen-Aid with this one. Proceed as you wish.
Bring the water to a boil. Place the oats in your bowl, mixer or otherwise. Pour the boiling water over the oats. Add the butter and molasses. Stir encouragingly. Let this mixture cool to about 105°F (40°C).
Once cooled, dissolve the yeast in the mixture and allow them to become familiar with each other for about five minutes.
Connect the bowl and dough hook to the mixer. Add a 3 cups of the flour and the salt, and turn the mixer on low. Continue to add the remaining flour a little bit at a time until you see the loveliness that is the dough pulling away from the sides. You might have to stop once or twice to scrape down the bowl with a friendly spatula. Once the all the flour is added and the dough is pulling away with regularity, continue kneading the dough on a low-medium setting for at least six minutes.
By hand: Incorporate the salt and then the flour a cup at a time, folding it in from the bottom up. Keep the dough in as much of a singular lump as you can. Scrape the bowl, fold, spin the bowl a quarter turn. Repeat. Pause if necessary to shake out your forearm. Keep going until the most, if not all, the flour is combined. The dough should now be a ragged ball, greedily reclaiming bits of itself from the bowl. Dump it out. Liberally dust flour on your work surface and the dough. (I like to use whole wheat when I'm kneading by hand.) Knead at least 300 times. Count 'em -- it's good meditation. De-dough your hands as necessary. When the dough no longer sticks to your hands and seems to push back a bit, you're done.
Put about a tablespoon of veggie oil in whatever bowl you're using. Place the dough in the bowl and flip it so that it is more or less covered with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, top that with a towel and place it in a warm spot for at least an hour.
Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
After the dough has risen, gently press it down. Do not punch it; it's disrespectful. Remove it from the bowl and cut it in half. Form each piece in to a ball, flatten it somewhat, and roll it in to a chubby log, pinching the seam together and tucking in the ends. Set them aside for a moment.
Peel a stick of butter like a banana and use it like a fat crayon to grease the expectant bread pans. Place the dough in the pans, and let them rise for 20 minutes.
With a sharp knife, diagonally slash the loaf tops. Three cuts should do it. Brush them with the egg wash. Sprinkle a handful of uncooked oats over them. Pop in to the oven.
At this point, if you are a Midnight Baker, you may enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and plot your next delicious creations.
After 45 minutes, remove the beauties from the oven. Gently release from pans and allow them to cool on wire racks for at least an hour until you slice them. It's difficult, I know, but delayed gratification strengthens the spirit.