Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bread Recipe: Wheat, Oats & Honey

"A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou."
-- Omar Khayyam

It's officially fall in Southern California, with a slight chance of rain. But at my house, it feels like summer, because my poor oven's been working overtime. Despite efforts to eat more produce and less starch, I gave in to an irresistible impulse to make bread. I salved my conscience about my carb addiction by making loaves with whole-grain wheat and oats, using a recipe I found on the back of the Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour package. Instead of going with the popular anti-gluten camp, I've gone the other direction, indulging my inner gluten glutton. Not only does the recipe call for 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, it increases the gluten load by adding two tablespoons of concentrated wheat gluten--a gray-white powdery ingredient--to the dough.

FYI, the word gluten comes from the Latin word for glue--and it's aptly named, since it's the elastic substance in wheat (also found in rye and barley) responsible for keeping bread "glued" together and, when kneaded, gives the bread a proper rise. Some high-protein flours like whole wheat and rye have a problem developing their gluten--meaning breads made with these flours need help rising (as do I some mornings!). That's where the vital wheat gluten comes in.

Toasted with peanut butter and mango honey
For those who are avoiding gluten for health reasons, obviously this bread is not for you. For the rest of you, here's a recipe for a loaf of whole wheat bread with just a hint of oats. I found Scottish oats, also from Bob's Red Mill, at my local Whole Foods. I think rolled oats might do just as well. I reduced the salt by a third and never missed the extra sodium. The loaves were dense but not heavy--great with soup, especially excellent toasted and topped with melted cheese, peanut butter and jelly, butter--or just about anything. I thought the bread might freeze well, but we finished it before we could find out.

Here's the recipe, adapted from Bob's Red Mill.

Honey Oatmeal Bread

(Makes two loaves)


4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup Scottish oatmeal
2 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten


1) In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast.

2) In a sauce pan, heat the milk, honey, oil and salt until warm (about 115 degrees F).

3) Add the liquid to the dry ingredients. If you're using a mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix at slow speed for about half a minute, making sure to scrape the batter from the sides of the bowl. Beat for 3 minutes at high speed. If mixing by hand, stir until ingredients are well combined--about 5 minutes.

4) Stir in oats, wheat gluten and flour. (The recipe suggests doing this by hand, but I used the dough attachment on the mixer to combine the ingredients briefly at low speed.) Add enough of the remaining flour to create a dough that starts to pull away from the sides of bowl.

5) Turn the dough out onto a floured board, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

6) Shape into a ball, and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).

7) Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. Shape into two loaves. Place in two greased 8 1/2"x 4 1/2" loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. If you want, brush a little water on top of the loaves and sprinkle with a few rolled oats.

8) Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, until the loaves are well-browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on wire racks. If you can stand to wait, let the loaves cool completely before slicing. However, if you're like me, you probably won't.


1) Try using white whole wheat flour for a milder taste.

2) Reduce honey and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of molasses.

3) Knead 1/4 to 1/2 cup of raisins into the dough.

4) Use half all-purpose white flour or bread flour, and leave out the vital wheat gluten--or use just 1 tablespoon.

*I haven't tried these variations, so I can't vouch for the results, but baking and cooking are all about experimentation, so why not give it a whirl?

Calories & Points (for 16 slices per loaf):

105 calories

3 Weight Watchers points per slice

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