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Recipes with James Beard: Oat Bread


James Beard was known for putting American cuisine on the map – his simple, hearty food showed Americans that quality cuisine was within reach. This rustic, easy-to-make oatmeal bread is the perfect embodiment of Beard’s iconic style. This recipe was originally published by The James Beard Foundation.

“Some cookbooks are put together like paper dolls. There is no feeling of humanness in them. I write about things I like and the way I like them.” – James Beard

James Beard’s Famous Oat Bread

YIELD: Two loaves

– 2 packages active dry yeast
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– 1 cup lukewarm water (110 to 115 degrees)
– 1/3 cup butter
– 1 cup boiling water
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1/3 cup molasses
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1 egg
– 5 1/2 cups sifted flour

Dissolve dry active yeast and sugar in 1 cup lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir very well. Cream butter in a large mixing bowl, add boiling water, and stir until completely melted. Add rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Blend thoroughly and cool to lukewarm. Add egg and beat well. Add the yeast, then fold in the flour.

Put the dough in a buttered mixing bowl, turning it so it is well greased on all sides, then refrigerate for at least two hours—you can leave it for three or four hours. Turn out the chilled dough on a floured work surface and shape into two loaves. Place in well-buttered 9 x 5-inch loaf pans, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about two hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake bread for approximately one hour, or until the loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when you rap the bottom with your knuckles. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Major funding for James Beard: America’s First Foodie is provided by Feast it Forward. Additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and Art Works.


Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.