Tiding Us Over

We’re down to the last couple loaves of sourdough bread in the freezer, so the other morning I got my starter babies out of the fridge and began to rev them up again. In the meantime, however, I mixed up a triple recipe of oatmeal bread. We needed something to tide us over for the following several days, and I realized that I hadn’t made oatmeal bread in a long time, at least as long as I’ve had this blog. I was quite surprised that I had gone for so long without making something as basic as oatmeal bread. And something as delicious as oatmeal bread. I love oatmeal bread. (How many times did I just say “oatmeal bread”?)

This bread is like candy, soft and sweet and tender and chewy. Yesterday we ate it fresh—thick slices spread with butter and honey or grape jelly, along with our dinner, a soup of collard greens, ham, and lentils.

(The kids hated the soup, but they gagged it down. Literally. Yo-Yo Boy dry-heaved once. I had no mercy, snapping at him, “If you’re going to do that then go to the bathroom.” It took them about an hour to eat that one ladle of soup. An hour! I got so furious at them for turning their noses up at what I considered to be perfectly reasonable and delectable fare that I had a screaming hissy fit about how I was sick of cooking good food and then having no one eat it, and then I stomped off upstairs to get my shower and sulk. When I came back down, Miss Becca Boo, who was still eating, happily showed me a dollar bill that Yo-Yo Boy was going to give her if she finished her soup. My son was paying my daughter to finish her soup? I will never understand my children.)

But back to the bread, the oatmeal bread. It makes really good toast, sandwiches, dinner rolls, whatever. It’s just really good.

Oatmeal Bread
Adapted from the More-With-Less Cookbook

Don’t try to bulk up this recipe with whole grains, at least not the first go-round. Make it as is, so that you get to taste it in all its glory. After that, feel free to dump in more whole wheat, flax meal, and whatever else makes you feel self-righteous.

1 cup quick oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon yeast
½ cup warm water
5 cups white flour

In a small bowl, mix together the yeast and ½ cup warm water and a pinch of sugar and set aside to dissolve and froth.

Measure the first five ingredients into a large bowl and then pour the boiling water over them, stirring well to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes so that the grains can soften and plump and so the water can cool down enough to not kill the yeast. When the mixture is only slightly warm, add the yeast, stir well, and then add the rest of the flour. Knead for five to ten minutes, adding more flour if necessary. Sprinkle the bottom of the dirty bread bowl with flour and set the dough back in, dusting the top with flour and then covering with a cloth. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, then cut into two loaves and place in well-greased bread pans. Let rise till nearly doubled, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-40 minutes.

A single recipe makes two loaves, a double recipe makes three (I make generous loaves), and a triple recipe makes five loaves.


  • C

    Not sure how I stumbled across this bread recipe and was so interested in making it and following you until I read about your hissy fit and forcing your children to eat while gagging on the meal you served them. That totally disgusted me. Were you trying to create children with future eating disorders! You sure got them off to a great start! Children often need to develop tastes for certain foods. If you hated fried liver and onions and I shoved it down your mouth and watched you vomit, would you ever want it again. Absolutely barbaric parenting! Poor kids!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Oh dear. Context is everything, I guess! Here are a couple follow-up points that may ease your mind…

      1. No vomiting.
      2. 15 years later: No eating disorders.

      And thanks for the reminder about that oatmeal bread! I haven’t made it in a while….

  • elizabeth

    We really liked this bread. I'll definitely be making it again. It wasn't a high riser, which is good because I find some recipes rise too much here in the high altitude. Thank you for the recipe! Will try the sourdough loaf next.

  • elizabeth

    I don't like the non-stick either. I bought my current pans at a thrift store.

    I'm assuming the yeast called for in the recipe is active dry?

  • Jennifer Jo

    I have no idea where I got my loaf pans—any old things will do (I don't like the non-stick kind). Thrift stores often have them…

  • elizabeth

    Thanks. I'll check out your story on the sourdough blog. I've purchased a starter from King Arthur before and might do that again.

    I can't wait to start making some a beautiful sourdough loaf like yours!

    Can you recommend a loaf pan? Do you have a favorite size and brand? Looks like you have some nice high-sided pans. Mine are too small, so I'm checking out new ones.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Hi Elizabeth, Yes, I think you could use regular oats. Just be sure they get a good soaking in the boiling water to soften them up real good.

    The La Brea book includes very detailed instructions on getting your own starter going. I wrote all about it on my sourdough blog (look over on the sidebar and you'll see a link to it), though what I wrote was more a story detailing my process and not specific directions. But you might find the pictures helpful.

  • elizabeth

    I only have regular oats in the house, not quick. Should I give the oatmeal bread a try anyway? I'm out of bread and want to try a new recipe.

    Also, I just ordered the la brea book. Will it tell me how to make a starter from scratch? I didn't see directions for a making starter on your site, only for feeding it. I only have a ww starter from a friend and have only made skillet bread.

    I make a lot of no-knead bread, but am really looking forward to making sourdough as there isn't any good sourdough here in Montana.

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    I have had similar struggles and angst over my desire to cook anything I wish (imagine the possibilities!) and the difficult reality of my children's selective eating preferences (they didn't get my tastebud genes, that's for sure!). I try to remember to ask myself: Is it really worth the energy it takes from me and them to force them to eat what they don't like? What am I teaching them by doing this? Did I learn anything worthwhile when my own parents forced me to eat foods that I didn't like?

    I'm at the point where I think I may just have a few standby meals for them (easy and nutritious) to whip up quickly when I want to make something else for Kirk & me that I know they won't prefer. I'm tired of catering all our meals to their preferences, and I have no desire to force them to eat anything.

    I don't remember whether I've told you about these books before, but here are a couple of resources that have really helped me on this and parenting in general, and marriage too, for that matter:

    Unconditional Parenting – by Alfie Kohn
    Nonviolent Communication – by Marshall Rosenberg

    You might be interested in Alfie Kohn's other books as well, with titles like PUNISHED BY REWARDS: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes. He has a lot to say about education (both at home and school) and how adults in our society relate to children. Check him out at alfiekohn.org.


    PS – I think you probably know this, but I'm not trying to preach at you. I'm sure I struggle at least as much as you do, and I only have two kids.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Lily Girl, Thanks for your compliment! You know, I’ve heard of people only feeding the starter twice a day, and they say it turns out fine, so go ahead and give it a shot. You never know…


  • Lily Girl

    Hi, I found your blog recently and I just wanted to tell you that I love your writing. Your gardening and preservation efforts are inspiring and motivational.
    Your description of your kids response to yesterday’s dinner made me laugh out loud. I’ll be trying your oatmeal bread soon, it sounds fabulous.
    I also wanted to thank you for your blog on sourdough, I’ve been wanting to try it, and your pictures and explanation have helped demystify the process (now if I can just find the time to feed it thrice daily we’ll be on to something!)

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