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James Beard
James Beard
©Elisabeth Wynn. Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation.

James Andrew Beard was born in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of more than 30 cookbooks, many of which have gone on to become kitchen staples. When he died at 81 on January 21, 1985, he left a legacy of culinary excellence and integrity to generations of home cooks and professional chefs. His name remains synonymous with American food.


Dear cooks,

Sometimes I get so caught up in ornate recipes that I forget about the importance of mastering a basic. So often I'll consider something like the humble loaf of bread a mere platform for a showpiece recipe, rather than the main act. This month, the Borzoi Cooks and I returned to James Beard's classic Beard on Bread, whose subtitle says it all: "My 100 favorite recipes with variations / Everything you need to know about breadmaking." The breads in this cookbook, and the lovely line drawings that illustrate the recipes, are timeless.

Why not take a day to reacquaint yourself with the pleasures of breadmaking? Try the oatmeal bread recipe below, and appreciate the tactility of the process. Relax and wait for the dough to rise. At the end of the day, be rewarded with a warm, fragrant loaf of bread.

Happy baking,
Pam Cortland

Beard on Bread

This Month's Recipe: Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal

From James Beard's Beard on Bread


- 1 cup coarse rolled oats
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup warm water (100° to 115°, approximately)
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, approximately

There are two or three favorite recipes for oatmeal bread in this country. I first encountered this one in Nevada, in a restaurant that was made famous by Lucius Beebe, and it was so good that I extracted the recipe from the owner and have been using it for many years. It is an interesting, loosely textured bread with an unusual light-brown color and a rich, full flavor. It is delicious with sweet butter, and it keeps well.

NOTE: If you should want a very soft top crust, brush the loaves with melted butter when you bring them out of the oven.

1. Cook the oats in the boiling water until thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm.

2. Meanwhile, stir the yeast and teaspoon of sugar into the warm water until dissolved, and allow to proof.

3. Add the warm milk, salt, brown sugar, and yeast mixture to the oats and stir well, then stir into 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Turn out on a floured board. Knead into a smooth, pliable, elastic dough, if necessary using as much as ½ to 1 cup, or more, of additional flour to get it to the right feel. (This will take about 10 minutes.)

4. 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 1½ hours.

5. Punch the dough down. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes and shape into two loaves.

6. 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.

7. Preheat the oven to 375°, 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. Return the loaves, without the tins, to the oven rack to bake for about 5 minutes and acquire a firmer crust. Remove the loaves to a rack and cool.

Makes 2 small loaves

Download this recipe as a printable e-card.

Oatmeal Bread with Cooked Oatmeal

Read along as my co-workers bake this bread.

Recipe excerpted from BEARD ON BREAD by James Beard. Copyright 1973 by James A. Beard. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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