I know that gap between the crust and the crumb of the bread is an indication of… something, (oven too hot? too long a rise?) but I can’t find my copy of Beard on Bread (a title that makes me giggle every single time) to find out what it is.
Still! This is the best loaf of bread I’ve made in ages. Sweet, soft, toasts like a freakin’ dream. I made this loaf about 12 hours ago and we’ve already eaten half of it.
Here’s the recipe, adapted ever-so-slightly from the one on the King Arthur Flour bag:
3-ish cups bread flour
1 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned oats; I used quick)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add milk and honey and stir to dissolve. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead dough, by hand 10 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it’ll become puffy, but it may not double in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log. Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan — I recommend vegetable shortening for the best results. Add dough log to the pan, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it’s crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan. (I think I waited too long and that’s what gave it that gap there.)
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.
Bonus round: That Hero plum jam is possibly the best jam I have ever eaten, and I don’t really even like jam.