Fair warning: this bread is a bit of a challenge, but nothing you can’t handle. Yeast is definitely intimidating, not to mention a little mysterious – it’s a living thing that you put in baked goods that doesn’t completely destroy them! What?
Don’t let the microorganisms scare you. They’re here to help.
I wish you could smell this bread right now! It isn’t just any awkward, boring homemade bread. Oats that have softened but not quite cooked in a warm butter-milk-honey mixture lend a chewy, hearty taste and texture. The middle is soft but my favorite part is the flax seeds. I’ve always been a sucker for bread with nuts and seeds, little bits of the unexpected in an otherwise unassuming loaf.
I’ve made two loaves of this bread within the past week. (As you can probably tell, I took pictures on two separate days with two separate loaves at two different times of day. It was interesting to look through my folders and see the contrast and differences between the two sets.) Loaf one didn’t have any whole wheat flour, as I had just finished up a bag and hadn’t gotten around to buying a new one, definitely had more yeast than necessary, and seemed a little bit undercooked. Nevertheless, it was still delicious – soft, oat-y, fantastic when toasted.
Take two was even better. I reduced the yeast by 1/3 to eliminate the excessive yeast-y taste in the previous loaf and upped the baking time to from 30 to 32 minutes. The lack of whole wheat flour was remedied by slicing open a brand new bag as fast as I could get my hands on it.
Ding ding ding, we have a winner! This bread is fantastic, as previously mentioned – soft, hearty, subtly flavored and incredibly delicious. Whole wheat flour aids the flax seed in creating a nutty taste, and that makes the sweetness of the honey sing – especially straight from the oven. A little slice of happiness in an otherwise hectic world.
Before you begin, let me point out this recipe makes two loaves. So if you have a small household, or only one loaf pan available for use, make sure to halve it – and don’t worry, it still works out fine.
Honey Oatmeal Flax Bread
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, plus extra for sprinkling on top
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp active dry yeast (2 packages)
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup portions
- 1/2 cup flax seed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 egg, slightly beaten + a splash of water (for egg wash)
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk to nearly boiling (make sure it doesn’t boil!). Add the oats, butter, and all but one teaspoon of honey. Stir and remove from heat to cool until warm, about 105 degrees F.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the warm water, the teaspoon of reserved honey, and yeast. Allow it to proof (let stand) for about 5 minutes until foamy.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, flax seed, and salt.
- Stir the proofed yeast into the warm milk mixture; pour the liquid into the flour.
- Using a mixer with dough hook(s) attached, mix on low until flour is incorporated. Turn mixer up to medium, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. If dough is sticky and not coming into a ball, add 1/2 cup of the remaining all-purpose flour. If, after mixing, it is not in a ball, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.
- Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes into a ball away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a towel. Leave it in a warm place to rise until dough has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- After dough has risen: grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.
- Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface; knead several times to remove the air.
- Divide dough in half; shape each half into a loaf and place into a loaf pan, seam side down. Cover the pans with the towel and allow dough to rise again until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- When the dough is almost finished rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- To create an egg wash, beat the egg and add a splash of water. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with rolled oats, if desired.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until tops are golden. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for up to a week (maybe more) if kept in the refrigerator. Devour.