2 cups low-fat milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping
1/2 cup warm water (105-115° F)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (about three packages)
1/2 cup mild honey (I used less than 1/2 cup, and it still turned out great!)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 cups whole-wheat flour*
About 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour*
1 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
*the original recipe called for 3 cups whole wheat, 2 cups white flour, but I was feeling particularly daring! I also added in 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten for good measure.
1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of honey. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the mixture doesn’t foam, you’ll have to discard it and start over with new yeast.) Stir the yeast mixture, melted butter, and remaining honey into the cooled oatmeal.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, 1/2 cup unbleached flour, and salt. Add the oat mixture, mixing slowly until a soft dough forms. Turn up the mixer and mix the dough, until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8-10 minutes (the dough will be slightly sticky). While you’re kneading, add just enough unbleached flour to keep the dough from sticking to the sides.
4. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a large, oiled mixing bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes.
5. Lightly butter two loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a loaf. Place each loaf in a buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover the loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel, and let the dough rise at a warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 60 minutes.
6. Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly brush the tops of each loaf with some of the egg wash and sprinkle with oats. Bake the loaves until they are golden and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 25-30 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen.)
7. Try not to burn your tongue, you'll want some right away with softened butter on it, YUM!