No-Knead Oatmeal Toasting Bread

cut loaf

Before heading to the beach last week for a little vacation with the family, I spent some time in the kitchen preparing a few items to pack along: granola, granola bars (which, unfortunately, were inedible) and this no-knead oatmeal toasting bread, a tried-and-true family favorite. The goal was meal supplementation — to avoid eating every meal out — and in retrospect, I wish I’d prepared more, namely biscotti, which were sorely missed, and something chocolaty to satisfy our post-dinner sweet tooths — midweek we caved and stocked up on chocolate-almond Hershey bars from the local convenience store … never have they tasted so good.

But this bread was a savior. We ate it every morning toasted and slathered with peanut butter and nearly every afternoon, at times with lettuce, tomato and bacon wedged in between, at others with nutella and peanut butter, and at others with a thick layer of melted cheese and sliced tomato.

It is a cinch to prepare — true to the title, no kneading is involved — and the bread, chewy in texture and slightly sweet, is just straight-up delicious, a treat to have on hand on vacation or not. My only goal tomorrow is to restock my freezer with another two loaves, and thanks to the 100ºF forecast, I’m almost certain to achieve it. Perhaps insufferable heat isn’t all that bad? Just trying to stay positive. Hope you’re all staying cool.

soaking oats, brown sugar & butter

mixed dough

dough, risen

dough, punched down

generously buttered loaf pans

splitting the dough into loaves

loaves, about to rise

loaf, rising

baked loaves

baked loaves

baked loaf

No-Knead Oatmeal Bread

Yield = 2 loaves
Adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
3 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons of butter
1 pkg active dry yeast = 2.25 teaspoons
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour

1. Place brown sugar, salt and oats in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Add butter. Let stand till lukewarm. Note: This is the only place where you could mess up the recipe. The mixture must cool to a lukewarm temperature so that it doesn’t kill the yeast.

2. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir. Add this yeast mixture to the oat mixture and stir.

3. Add the flours a little bit at a time. My old recipe says to add it one cup at a time, but I’m never that patient. Add it as slowly as you can tolerate, stirring to combine after each addition.

4. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. This is what I always do for my “warm spot”: preheat the oven to its hottest setting for 1 minute. TURN OFF THE OVEN. (Note: Only preheat the oven for 1 minute total — in other words, don’t wait for your oven to heat up to 500ºF and to sit at that temperature for 1 minute. You just want to create a slightly warm spot for your bread to rise.) Place covered bowl in the oven to rise until doubled.

5. Grease two standard sized loaf pans generously with butter. When dough has risen, punch it down. I use two forks to do this. I stab the dough in the center first, then pull the dough from the sides of the bowl towards the center up onto itself. Then I take my two forks and, working from the center out, I divide it into two equal portions. Place each portion into your prepared loaf pans. Let rise until dough creeps above the rim of the loaf pan.

6. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake loaves for 10 min. Reduce heat to 350ºF. Bake for another 40 to 45 more minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped — you have to (obviously) remove the loaf from the pan to test this. Turn loaves out into wire racks immediately to cool.

We had a wonderful time on vacation. We stopped in Williamsburg on the way to Virginia Beach (obviously to give Ella and Graham a little history lesson); we stayed in awesome cabins; we bought as-fresh-as-fresh-can-be fish (rockfish and sea bass) every night from Dockside, which we grilled whole and devoured; and we spent hour upon hour at the beach.
vacation

cut loaf

94 Comments

  1. This looks delicious. Can the first rise be done in the same bowl used for mixing, as in the your peasant bread recipe?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kristen, Yes. I have started doing this with all of these no-knead breads. Why dirty another bowl? Now, my mother is a firm believer that using a freshly buttered bowl both adds flavor and assists in rising, but I take my chances. If you do the warm oven trick and let the bread rise for two hours or until it is doubled, it will bake off just as nicely. Good luck with it!

      Reply
  2. Success! I left the dough to rise in the same bowl I mixed it in and it rose beautifully. I ended up adding an extra 1/4 c. or so of water to the dough to get it to fully combine, but other than that no problems at all. And the finished product is super yummy. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kristen — thanks so much for reporting back! And I’m so happy to hear you like this. I’m bringing a friend a loaf tomorrow. Just so you, you can make the dough and let it rise overnight in the fridge. I have even frozen it after the first rise once I’ve placed it in its buttered loaf pan.

      Reply
  3. I’m confused about the oven temp. for creating a warm space. Your peasant bread recipe has “highest setting” crossed out, but still visible, then says “lowest”setting. Now this recipe, which I am about to try for the first time, says preheat for one minute on highest setting. Which is it? I used lowest setting for the peasant bread and always wondered why mine didn’t rise as much as yours. I live at 4400 feet above see level, too. Still, love the peasant bread!

    Reply
    • Lisa – hieeee. Sorry about this confusion. The truth is is that I always just turn the knob up to the highest setting and then shut it off after a minute. The reason I switched the instructions in the peasant bread is bc i think a lot of people were not understanding my instructions and preheating their ovens for too long at too high a setting and so were par baking their loaves during what should have been the first rise. You can preheat your oven at whatever setting you want as long as the oven is on for no more than a minut total. Does that make sense? As for altitude, I can’t offer much guidance. But, what size bowls are you using for the bread? I think my bowls make the second rise look more dramatic than it actually is. When I make the loaves in larger bowls, they don’t seem to rise as much, but it’s all relative to the bowl. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  4. Bingo! So excited! I made the peasant bread once more just to compare the oven temp methods. My first rise was much higher and the second also higher and faster than the results with the lower preheat. I am baking one loaf in the same bowl as yours (1.5 L). It was so pretty I had to buy one from eBay. I bake the other in my 2Q LeCreuset Dutch oven. They don’t come out the same size, but turn out equally well. I am so happy now ! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Oh Lisa, it’s wonderful to hear this. Maybe I should try to rewrite the instructions again so that it’s clear. I’m not sure why I’m having such a hard time making this step in the instructions clear. I bought my bowls on eBay too!

      Reply
  5. Enjoying a delicious piece of oat bread right now. The bread turned out perfectly, thanks so much for the recipe!

    Hannah

    Reply
  6. Hi, I tried your bread, but something went wrong! just looking for some advice…I found that 3 cups of water was far too much. I even added another cup of flour after the prescribed 6 cups. I use instant yeast, and had no troubles with both rising times. I did not use the extra 1/4c. of water. When I baked it, it continued to rise, but with so much liquid, literally oozed over the sides, instead of making a nice, bread dome. The only thing I can think of is maybe I’m using the wrong oats? Though they are the old fashioned kind. I read all the reviews, and no one seems to think it was too much water, so, any insight would be helpful…I’m not a very seasoned baker: Thanks so much.

    Reply
  7. I have tried this recipe now 3 times and I love it! I have found that I much prefer the texture when baked in a cast iron loaf pan vs glass; it doesn’t rise as well but the texture is much nicer. Today I cut the recipe in half and it has turned out beautifully!

    I am not a bread baker by design. I want to be however I lack patience. This recipe was right up my alley! Thank you!

    Reply
      • Yes it is; I actually have 2 loaf pans from them. Everything from bread, pound cakes, and meatloaf turn out AMAZING in the cast iron. You just need to really butter/oil the pans well.

        I also wanted to add I made another batch this week and left the 2nd “loaf” still in the original glass bowl covered in the fridge. It did continue to rise for a few days in the fridge, but other than that, the bread came out of the oven as if I had mixed everything together that day. This is such an amazing recipe! I can do 7 minutes of work and have bread for the week.

        Your blog is wonderful, a true gem! It has given me the confidence to expand my horizons and abilities. From one momma to another, thank you!

        Reply
        • Oh Julia, you are too kind! You are so so welcome, and thank you so much for your nice words and for writing in.

          I am so going to pick up some cast iron loaf pans the next time I am shopping (or perhaps later tonight if I take a peak at Amazon before bed :)). And I love that you can keep this bread in the fridge for a few days and bake it when you are ready. I have frozen the dough in the buttered loaf pan, and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours the day I plan on baking it — that works well, too. Hope you’re having a great weekend. You’re inspiring me to make bread tomorrow :)

          Reply
  8. I attempted to make this bread twice yesterday and each time, I was able to get the dough to rise well in the bowl but once I put it in the loaf pans, it didn’t rise. Of course, my bread is flat and dense. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Any thoughts? This recipe is much like my grandmother’s recipe for white bread. The flavor is amazing. I just wish mine was fluffier.

    Reply
    • Hi Mitzi, you are not the only one who has had trouble with this bread on the second rise. One question before I start brainstorming: Did you do the warm oven trick to let the bread rise? And if so, did you preheat the oven only for 1 minute total? Some people have made the mistake of letting their bread rise in a spot that is too warm and so the bread in fact cooks during the first rise. Let me know so that I can eliminate this possibility.

      Reply
      • Thanks. I’m trying it again now. I did both of those things but I wondered if my oven got too hot in that short amount of time. Another question, are you able to stir all of the flour in with a spoon or do you use your hands. By cup 5 or 6 it was hard to get it to mix together. I’m relatively new to bread making. Thanks for getting back to me.

        Reply
        • Mitzi, it is a little hard to work in all of the flour, but I do use a spoon. It sounds as though you might have a bit of a heavier hand with the flour than I do, too. Try just scooping flour into your measuring cup with another spoon or measuring cup, then level off with a knife. It’s better to err on the side of using less flour than more. And if your oven got too hot, there is definitely a possibility that your bread partially cooked during the first rise. Sorry for the delay in responding here! Hope you are making progress with the bread!

          Reply
  9. I use this recipe weekly and I love it!
    It works very well as a starting place for variations as well.
    Lately, I’ve sort of morphed it into a muesli breakfast bread, with raisins, dates, and dried cranberries, (I throw the dried fruit in at the 1st step to soak in the boiling water with the oats and sugar so they plump up), and either walnuts or pecans, depending on what I have on hand. I usually increase the sweetness a bit with molasses, and add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and a few drops of orange and vanilla extracts.
    A few times I’ve even switched out the whole wheat flour for rye, which was delicious with molasses and dates.

    Basically, this recipe takes whatever I throw at it and still works.
    With all the additions, I almost never use as much flour as called for, but I do work a little more in after the first rise when I shape the loaves.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe with the world. It made the idea of baking bread a lot less intimidating and has saved me a lot of money on breakfast.

    Reply
    • Wonderful to hear all of this, Fay. I love the sound of a muesli breakfast bread filled with dried fruit and nuts — so healthy and such a great way to start off the day. Love the idea of the orange extract, too. I bet some zest would be good with all of those nuts and fruit, too. Definitely going to try some of these suggestions. Thanks so much!

      Reply
  10. Hi Alexandra!

    I just stumbled upon your blog searching for scones recipes and found instead your bread recipes and you got me hooked on the “no-kneading” part. ;-) I tried your peasant bread yesterday and my family and I enjoyed it very much! WE had it for breakfast today, toasted with a smear of butter —- and it was delicious!!!! — no more store- bought breads from now on.

    I really enjoy reading your blog and can’t wait to try other recipes ;-) Thank you!

    Reply
  11. So, this bread is seriously delicious. It tastes exactly how I hoped it would – lightly sweet, but not overly so, perfect with just some butter spread over it (although it sounds delicious with peanut butter or any other sandwich fixings). I did have some issues with it, but I’m thinking they’re probably mostly due to my high altitude (I’m at about 5,000 feet). I always add a second rise to breads before I shape them into the loaf pan because at high altitudes, breads rise too quickly and it doesn’t give the gluten enough time to develop, resulting in bread with no structure that falls apart when you slice it. I normally also don’t put my dough in a particularly warm place, just to help slow down the rising process a bit that way, too. However, I started this bread kind of late last night, so I went ahead and stuck it in a warm oven to rise. It rose very quickly, after about an hour it was huge, so I punched it down and let it rise again, which again it did very quickly. So I decided I’d do the last rise in the fridge so the gluten could have more time to develop. So I put the two loaves in the fridge to rise overnight. Well, I decided to check on them about an hour later and they were already ready for the oven! So I took them out and baked them, and thankfully they didn’t really rise anymore in the oven (I usually get pretty good oven spring so I was worried they would be enormous or would cascade over the sides of the pans). Anyway, slicing the bread this morning, it totally falls apart – there’s no way I could toast it or make a sandwich out of it. I’m still really pleased with the loaves because they taste SO good, but I’m going to have to tweak some things to see if I can get a better structure to the bread. I was a little worried about this because of not having to knead the dough, so I’m wondering if I need to knead the dough a bit? I’ll definitely not put it in a warm place to rise next time, and will try again to do the last rise in the fridge. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    Reply
    • Kelsey, hi! And thank you for all of this. It was so interesting to read. I am not familiar with high-altitude baking, so when I get questions about it, I never know how to advise. And I didn’t know that a fast rise inhibits gluten development, but, of course, that makes sense. I think your ideas make sense, and I think kneading will definitely help with the crumbling issue. A few other thoughts: what about decreasing the yeast some and letting the first rise happen slowly in the fridge, maybe even overnight? Then do the second rise at room temperature? You are inspiring me to experiment. I just made two loaves of Anadama bread from the Tate’s Bake Shop cookbook. I will report back if they are any good. Thanks again for writing in! Really appreciate your thoughts.

      Reply

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