Oatmeal Brown Bread

This month's Recipe Redux theme is all about unpacking a favorite vacation memory and recreating a healthy meal from the trip. I have a good one for you guys! The main reason I love to travel is to experience the food of the area. I haven't been shy about sharing vacation-inspired recipes with you guys in the past (see herehere, here, and here) and I don't plan to stop any time soon. It was so hard to pick one recipe to recreate for this month's theme since I have a running list of recipes to try in my trusty kitchen notebook. 

Since preseason is in full swing for my husband, his spot at the dinner table is usually vacant for a couple weeks. Rather than recreating a delicious meal that he isn't home to enjoy, I decided to recreate a delicious homemade bread that he can enjoy as a late night snack when he gets home. 

This Oatmeal Brown Bread recipe is inspired by a trip my family took this summer to Banff for my mom's 60th birthday. I was completely blown away by the beauty of this place. I have seen lots of mountains but I have never been surrounded by so much beauty in my life. It feels like everywhere you are, you are surrounded 360 degrees by mountains.

It was a family trip that was the perfect combination of relaxation, activity, good food, and family time. One of the amazing hikes we went on was at Lake Louise up to the Lake Agnes Tea House.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

The entire hike is amazing because you constantly get a different view of Lake Louise before arriving at the most quaint tea house atop the mountain. The people who work at the tea house live up there during the season. They hike down once a week and hike back up with supplies. Twice a year, a helicopter airlifts supplies to them. The thing they are known for is their oatmeal brown bread. Their menu consists of different sandwiches all on their signature bread.

This bread was SO good. It was doughy and delicious. Recreating it immediately went on my "to make" list when I got home. This month's Recipe Redux theme gave me the perfect opportunity to share my creation with you. 

As I was doing research for this recipe test, I quickly learned that just about all oatmeal brown bread recipes called for whole milk and butter. The rest of the ingredients aren't too shabby...oats, flour, molasses, yeast, salt, and a pinch of sugar. I knew I didn't want whole milk or butter in there so I could make the recipe plant-based and lower in saturated fat. I subbed water for the milk and omitted the butter and the bread was a success. I decided not to change the flour at all since there are whole grains in the oats. You don't need to be intimidated by this yeast bread...especially if you have a stand mixer. There are no long rises and the whole thing can be done in a few hours with gaps to get some house work done in between. Here is a basic timeline so you can plan your time while making it:

25 min - prep oven for rising, measure ingredients, knead dough for first rise

40-50 min - first rise

5-10 min - shape dough for second rise

20-30 min - second rise

40-50 min - bake bread

Oatmeal Brown Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

3 tablespoons molasses

1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast

1. Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add oats; cook to soften slightly, about 90 seconds. Set aside. 

2. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven. 

3. Mix 2 3/4 cup of the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add cooked oats and remaining water and mix to combine. Mix the warm water, molasses, and yeast in a liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about 10 minute. After 5 minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 1/4 cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky. Turn the dough onto a lightly flour work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds. 

4. Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes. 

5. Gently press the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer then 9 inches. With a long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch in closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

6. Keep one oven rack at the lowest position and place the other at the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the boiling water into the empty pan on the bottom rack and set the loaf onto the middle rack. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf read 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve. 

Don't forget to checkout all these other vacation-inspired recipes from my fellow Recipe Redux bloggers: