Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal

James Beard

Author and Educator

There are many recipes for oatmeal bread, but this was one of James Beard’s favorites. It has a loose texture and a rich, full flavor that makes it a delightful base for sandwiches. The addition of about 3/4 cup of raisins tossed in 1 teaspoon flour after kneading creates a wonderful breakfast bread, especially if it’s toasted and spread with sweet butter and jam.


  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (approximately 100° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour


Cook the oats in the boiling water until thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water until dissolved, and allow to proof. It is ready when small bubbles have risen to the surface. Add this mixture plus the warm milk, salt, and brown sugar to the oats and mix well. Then stir in 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time and combine well after each addition. Either turn out the mixture onto a floured board and knead or continue mixing in the electric mixer until it becomes a smooth, pliable, and elastic dough. You may have to add as much as 1/2 to 1 cup of additional flour to get it to the right feel. (This will take about 10 minutes if you’re kneading by hand.)

Shape the dough into a ball, put into a well-buttered bowl, and turn to coat on all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch the dough down. Knead for 2 or 3 minutes and shape into two loaves. Thoroughly butter two 8 x 4 x 2-inch tins. Place the dough in the tins, cover, and let rise in a warm place until about even with the top of the tins, or almost doubled in bulk. This should take another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Place the bread in the center of the lowest rack, and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on top and bottom with the knuckles. Remove the loaves from the tins and put them directly on the oven rack to bake for about 5 minutes and acquire a firmer crust. Remove the loaves to a rack and cool. If you want a very soft top crust, brush the loaves with melted butter when you bring them out of the oven.


2 loaves