Oatmeal Bread with Raisins

My mother liked cookbooks and had a nice little collection.  One of her cookbooks was called "Prize Canadian Recipes".  It was compiled by the Canadian Starch Co. Ltd. in 1930 but was reprinted in 1975 by Coles Publishing Company Limited.  This wasn't a modern update but a reprint that looked like the original book with all the old photos and household tips from 1930.  It's just like reading an old, old book except it's a paperback.  The Canadian Starch Co. Ltd. produced corn products such as corn syrup, corn starch and Mazola corn oil.  Every recipe in the book uses at least one of their products.  

I love reading the book and except for a few strange titles ("Roman Delight" and "English Monkey" come to mind; neither one having anything to do with Romans nor monkeys) most of the recipes in this little gem of a cookbook seem to be really appetizing.  I've had it in my mind to try a few recipes and decided to make the "Oatmeal Bread".  

The original recipe calls for "2 yeast cakes" which would be hard to find in this century. My mother always referred to yeast this way.  Whenever she bought a package of yeast it was always called a "yeast cake".  So I grew up understanding a package of yeast was interchangeable with the obsolete yeast cake. I've gone one step further and use instant rise yeast.  I've also updated the mixing method to go along with the use of instant rise yeast.  And, of course, I mix it in my stand mixer.  

This Oatmeal Bread with Raisins is a dense, stomach- filling bread just right for winter eating.  It's not a spicy cinnamon bread, as you might expect with a raisin bread, but a slightly sweet bread from the brown sugar and raisins.  It's just wonderful toasted or used for a cheese sandwich. 

And if you don't like raisins you can leave them out.

Oatmeal Bread with Raisins
1 cup oatmeal (I used the large old-fashioned oats but regular oats can be used)
2¼ cups +2 tablespoons boiling water
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 package instant rise yeast or 2½ teaspoons
Approximately 4½ -5 cups all-purpose flour (can use part whole wheat),
1 cup raisins

Pour the boiling water over the oatmeal in a large bowl. I used my stand mixer bowl.   Let sit until the mixture cools to almost lukewarm.  To the warm oatmeal add the brown sugar, salt and oil.  Mix this until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the yeast and 4 cups of flour. Using the dough hook mix until you have a soft sticky dough. Add the raisins and continue adding just enough flour until the dough cleans the side of the mixing bowl.  Knead for 8 minutes.  If mixing by hand add enough flour until the dough can be handled and kneaded without being sticky.  I used about 4½ cups of flour.  If you are making bread on a humid or wet day you may have to use the larger amount of flour. 

Set the dough to rise in a warm place.  Grease the bowl and the top of the bread dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel.  Let rise about 1½ hours or until the dough has doubled.  

Divide the dough into two pieces and form into loaves.  Place in large greased bread or loaf pans.  I used two 9 x 5-inch or 8 ½ x 4½-inch pans.  If you would like smaller loaves use three 8 x 4-inch pans. Cover loaves with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel.  Let loaves rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled.  This could take about 1 - 1½ hours.  

About 15 minutes before the bread has finished rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  When the dough has doubled in size, bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Decrease baking time by 5 minutes for smaller loaves.  If the bread is browning too quickly lower the heat to 350 degrees.  When baked remove from oven and turn out from pans to cool. You may butter the tops of the loaves for a soft top crust.  Cool completely on baking rack before wrapping. 

Use within a few days or freeze loaves.

Makes 2 large or 3 small loaves. 

Soak the oatmeal in boiling water until almost lukewarm.  Add the brown sugar, salt and oil and mix until sugar is dissolved.  Add the yeast and about 4 cups of flour and mix until you have a sticky dough.  Add in the raisins.

Continue adding some of the remaining flour until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl.  I used about 4½ cups of flour altogether.  If you are hand kneading, the dough should be still soft but not sticky.  Knead about 8 minutes. 

Oil the bowl and the top of the dough and let rise until double.

Form the dough into loaves and let rise again until double in size.  While rising cover the loaves with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel.

Bake bread until golden brown, about 40 minutes at 375 degrees.  Lower the heat to 350 degrees if browning too quickly.  I greased the top of the bread with butter as soon as it came from the oven.  As you can see I doubled the recipe.

Fresh cut Oatmeal Bread with Raisins sliced and ready to eat.  Buttery, sweet Havarti between two slices with a little mayonnaise makes a delicious sandwich.

 Have a slice.  You know you want to!


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