- Cook the oats, 2 cups water, and margarine for 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm.
- Dissolve yeast in warm water and honey. (The honey helps the yeast to bloom).
- Add cooled oat meal mixture to yeast mixture. Then add sugar, salt and 4 cups of bread flour (1 cup at a time).
- Knead in the rest of flour to form a stiff dough.
- Oil a large bowl and turn bread dough in bowl to coat. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Tip: I cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and place in an oven that I heated to 250 degrees, turned off, and then waited for about 15 minutes before I placed the bowl in the oven).
- Punch down, cut in half for 2 loaves of bread or cut into 18 rolls.
- Place in greased bread pan for bread or greased cookie sheet for rolls. Cover and let rise on counter for about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water sugar and yeast. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture bubble and foam before proceeding (this can take 3-5 minutes). If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe (no need to let the yeast activate).
2. Add the salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and mix. Add in 2 1/2 to 3 more cups of flour gradually. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and form a soft ball that doesn't leave a lot of dough residue on your fingers. Knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough starts to cling to the sides of the bowl (or the center column if using a Bosch or other mixer with a center), add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until a sturdy but soft ball of dough forms.
3. Leave the dough in the mixer, cover with a lid or towel, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Stir it down by turning on the mixer for 10 seconds or so. Repeat the "rest and stir down" cycle five more times.
4. Instead of letting the dough rest for 10 minute spurts and then stirring it down, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a towel or greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about an hour or so, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface and divide in half. Pat each section into a thick rectangle, 9X13-inches or thereabouts (doesn't have to be exact). Roll the dough up starting from the long edge, pressing out any air bubbles or seams with the heel of your hand, and pinch the edge to seal. Arrange seam side down on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I use separate baking sheets for each loaf). You can slash several gashes in the top of the bread now or wait until after it has risen (to avoid the risk of the bread deflating, especially if you don't have a very sharp razor or knife, slash now - see pictures above in the post for a visual).
6. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the loaves rise until noticeably puffy and nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and make sure an oven rack is in the center position. If you haven't already, with a very sharp knife or baker's lame cut several gashes at an angle on the top of each loaf (see pictures above in the post for a visual).
8. Place the baking sheet in the hot oven and immediately toss 3-4 ice cubes on the bottom of the oven (this gives a delicious, classic, French bread crispness to the crust). Close the oven door quickly.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and baked through. Remove from the oven and slather with melted butter (optional, but delicious). Repeat with the 2nd loaf (or if you have convection setting, the loaves can bake at the same time, just rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking).
- Place the warm water and sugar in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.
- Add the butter and 2 cups of the flour, and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.
- Stir in an additional 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups of flour, along with the salt, mixing until the dough gathers itself into a ball and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
- Continue to knead, adding an additional 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour, until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
- Place the dough in a large greased bowl, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (30 to 45 minutes).
- Lightly mist a 5 cup loaf pan with non-stick spray.
- Punch down the dough and shape it into a loaf.
- Place the dough in the prepared pan, cover it loosely with greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (30 to 45 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Uncover the dough and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.