A sturdy-chewy yeasted bread with a hearty crumb; Oatmeal-Maple Bread is slightly adapted from Alexandra Stafford's cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs. vegetarian or vegan **Due to the nature of making bread, total time below may vary.
In a small bowl, combine the rolled oats, boiling water and maple syrup. Let stand for 10 minutes to hydrate the oats. Add room temperature water and stir to combine.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and instant yeast. Add the oat mixture. Using a rubber spatula and eventually your hands, mix and knead until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or a plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has double in bulk. (see tip in notes if your kitchen is cool)
Set oven rack in the center of oven and preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Grease two, 1 quart (.94L) oven safe bowls with butter or coconut oil - be generous here. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it towards the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Using your two forks, and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. use the forks to lift each half of dough into a prepared bowl. If the dough is too sticky, wet your hands with water and scoop each piece up and transfer each half to a bowl. Do not cover the bowls unless the bowls are in a drafty area. Otherwise set the bowls in a warm space (see tip below if your kitchen is cool) while the oven is pre-heating for 10-20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls. Sprits the dough with a few sprays water and sprinkle just a little bit of oats on the top of each loaf (about 1 tsp each).
Transfer the bowls to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden all around. Remove the bowls from the oven and turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. If the loaves look pale, return them to their bowls and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Turn the bread out to cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
Store in a brown paper or plastic bag for up to three days. These loaves freeze beautifully as well. Wrap them tightly in a plastic bag and freeze for up to two weeks. Thaw at room temperature overnight.
*Ali's recipe calls for whole wheat flour, but I used white whole wheat flour because that's what I had on hand. Either will work!
TIP: Since kitchen temperatures vary, and in order to allow the bread to rise in a timely manner, you can use your oven or microwave to help control this process. Simply turn on your oven at the lowest setting for about 30 seconds, then turn it off. Place the covered dough into the oven. This will help the dough rise in a cool kitchen. This technique can be done for the first (fermentation) and second rise (proof). - OR - Place a heatproof bowl of boiling water in the microwave. Place the covered bread in the microwave next to the water. This creates a warm and humid environment which yeast thrive in! Do this for the first (fermentation) and second (proof) rise.