Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread: Better than Disco and Big Band combined

“Ugh, those shoes are so old fashioned!”

“My goodness, what an old-fashioned idea!”

“Good morning dear, would you like some old-fashioned warm bread for breakfast?”

Now, looking at those three statements, two of them don’t have very good connotations; but one of them brings to mind something you do want in your life from times past. Old-fashioned doesn’t have to mean dull, boring and outdated; it can mean comfort at its finest – especially when it comes to food.

I don’t know many people who would want Uncle Bob’s platform shoes from the ’70s, or folks who think that women still get the vapors. But I do know many, many friends who would gladly sit down to a meal with Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread – breakfast, lunch or dinner.

There’s something about the nuttiness of oats combined with the bittersweet taste of molasses that causes us to pause a bit in our rush-rush lives. Our shoulders relax while our brows un-furrow. We reach for a second cup of tea, and give in to the desire to curl up with a good book instead of tweet and twerk our way through another day. If this is old-fashioned, I’ll take it.

While you certainly don’t have to go back to hauling water from the spring and stone-grinding your flours, you can make this Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread entirely by hand. Keep in mind that it’s fairly sticky and you may need to oil or grease your hands and work surface to make kneading easier. I choose to use my trusty bread machine on the dough cycle for the mixing, kneading, and first rise. oatmeal bread

Into the bucket of your bread machine or your mixing bowl, put the following:

1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned preferably, or quick; not instant)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses or dark corn syrup
1 1/3 cups boiling water

While normally we recommend using a liquid measuring cup for oils, I found I could use my 1/4 cup dry measure for the oil; which enabled the sticky molasses to slip right out. Pouring the last of the boiling water into the cup rinsed it nearly clean, making my tidying up quick and easy.


Allow the oat mixture to sit at room temperature to soften the oats, absorb liquid, and cool down, about 15 to 20 minutes.


Add the rest of the dough ingredients:

2 3/4 cups (11 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup Baker’s Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver

The Whole-Grain Bread Improver is optional and can be left out. However, it does help the heavier loaf get a nice lift.

Be sure to check your dough as it’s kneading in the machine, and adjust the flour and water as needed. The dough should be on the sticky side, and wetter than your basic white bread dough. See how it sticks to my fingers when I touch the dough? That’s what we’re shooting for.


Allow the machine to complete its dough cycle. Or let the bread rise in a greased, covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes. It’s not the fastest riser in the world, and probably won’t double; but it should get nice and puffy.

Holy Monster Dough, Batman!  No worries, this was from my testing a double batch of the recipe. It fits in the bread machine for rising, but just barely!


Gently deflate the dough. Shape it into a log and place it in a well-greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. Cover the pan and allow the bread to rise for 45 to 60 minutes. At the top of its crown, the bread should be about 1″ over the rim of the pan.


A little reminder that oats are good for your heart, straight from the source.


Bake the loaf in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 minutes. A digital thermometer will register 190°F when inserted into the bread’s center. This bread can brown quickly, so do check during the baking time, and tent the bread lightly with foil if needed.

When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will still be fairly delicate. I find cooling it on its side for about 15 minutes helps prevent the soft loaf from sagging. After that you can stand your loaf up to cool, or leave it lying down; baker’s choice.

All in all, not too bad for a day of good old-fashioned baking. I think I’ll grab my knitting while I wait for my bread to cool. I may have spun the yarn myself on a real wooden spinning wheel, but did I mention my needles are made from carbon fiber, same material jets are made from? Hey, remember, not everything we do has to be old-fashioned!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread.

Print just the recipe. (Don’t forget, you can adjust the font size at the top left of the print page).

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Honey should work fine is this recipe, Jess, although you won’t get the same color or flavor. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Honey should work fine, Denise, although you won’t get quite the same color. Barb@KAF

  1. Debbe Smith

    One question. You’re using instant yeast but allowing two rises? I thoght the instant yeast eliminated the first rise.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Debbe, regular instant yeast does fine with two rises, it is only the type of instant yeast labeled “rapid rise” that seems to have difficulty sustaining a longer fermentation. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      These are similar products, Warren, but the whole grain bread improver includes some flavoring ingredients and ascorbic acid as well as vital wheat gluten. In a pinch, the vital wheat gluten is a good substitute. Barb@KAF

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      I haven’t tried a half version, but it should work out just fine. ~MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi Leslie,
      If you’re making with your stand mixer, kneading would be the same as for your regular bread recipes. Most machines recommend a lower speed, (like 2 or 3) for 4 to 6 minutes. ~ MJ

  2. Yum Girl

    I haven’t thought of this bread in years! My Nana used to make it when I would stay the weekend with my grandparents. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Dena

    Can this be finished in the bread machine, and if so, at what setting? I have the Zojirushi supreme model . . .

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi Dena,
      Because of the longer second rise, this is a good one to rise and bake in the oven. ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi there,
      You can leave out the milk powder and use water, or soy milk, rice milk or nut milk as your liquid. ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi there,
      This recipe can be made in a stand mixer or by hand, the bread machine is not necessary for this great loaf. ~ MJ

  4. leslie

    Would this recipe work with gluten-free flour? It would be a great new recipe for us since my son has a wheat allergy and we are always looking for yummy bread recipes. Thank you!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This recipe would require a good deal of adjustments to make it gluten-free. For best results I would recommend looking for a similar gluten-free recipe. Barb@KAF

  5. Kathy

    Hi – do you think I could use White Whole Wheat flour for all or part of the all purpose flour?
    Maybe add the vital wheat gluten (in place of the dough improver) to compensate? This bread sounds delicious!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I think you could definitely substitute half of the flour content with the white whole wheat flour, Kathy. You may find you need to add a tablespoon or two more water to adjust for the bran in the whole wheat flour, which absorbs more liquid than all purpose flour does. Either the dough improver or the vital wheat gluten should work well. Barb@KAF

  6. egelston

    This was my grammy’s signature bread, served with red raspberry jam made from berries out of my grandpa’s bramble. I learned to make bread by her side (why didn’t I capture that recipe, dang it). Your recipe is very similar to a favorite from the American Heritage Cookbook. So delicious. Thanks for sharing!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      I adore red raspberry and black raspberry jam, you’re so lucky to have had a fresh source with your Grands! ~ MJ

  7. Marie Barry

    Is this the recipe that was in the most recent catalog? I wanted to make that oatmeal bread (toward the back of the catalog) and someone walked off with my catalog. (At least I had placed an order from it before it got “borrowed.” thanks.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      HI there,
      Yes, this is the one! Hope you get a chance to try it out soon. ~ MJ

  8. Joan Judge

    Can this be made without the dried milk? What is a good substitute for milk in bread recipes (my daughter has just gone vegan. . .)

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi Joan,
      You can leave out the dried milk and use water, soy milk, nut milk or other non-dairy liquid to suit your tastes. ~ MJ

  9. Leslie

    The recipe in the catalog and the on-line version both list 1/4 c. oil, yet the catalog version lists 1Tbl. Granulated lecithin. I’ve learned that this allows reduction of the oil by half, but both recipes list 1/4 c. Guidance, please!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      HI Leslie,
      I left the lecithin out in this recipe, as I tried it both ways and did not see any noticeable difference over the course of a few loaves. If you do use it, it’s added in addition to the oil called for in both versions. ~ MJ

  10. ShirleyThornton

    This sounds really good. About 20 years ago there was a recipe for whole wheat honey molasses bread, very similar to this.. on the bag of the whole wheat flour… Some how it is lost. Can I use whole wheat flour as a substitute, or by some wonderful magic..do you have that original ?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Shirley, hopefully your craving for a slightly sweet, whole grain oatmeal bread can be satisfied with this recipe here: http://bit.ly/1vdLAOp. It’s our Vermont Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread (yum)! Feel free to substitute molasses for up to 50% of the maple sugar or brown sugar in this recipe for an even deeper flavor and color. If you do this, just hold back the last 1/4 cup water and add it only as needed. The dough should be smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky–think soft and tender, like your cheek.

      In case that’s not what you’re looking for, here’s Plan B: Honey Oatmeal Bread: http://bit.ly/4ekB4O. It calls for all purpose flour but you could use white whole wheat or whole wheat flour and simply add roughly 2 tablespoons of extra water to fully hydrate the dough. You could also do this with the Old-Fashion Oatmeal Bread recipe. Hopefully you find the oatmeal bread you are looking for! –Kye@KAF

  11. JanP

    Back to baking after ions away. I notice most bread recipes call for all-purpose flour. I have KA bread flour. Should I use it in place of the all-purpose?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      JanP, welcome back to the world of baking! You were surely missed. Bread flour has more protein than all purpose flour, which imparts a chewy texture with a more defined crust–think artisan loaf of bread. Breads made with all purpose flour tend to be more tender and doughy–think soft white dinner roll. You can use them interchangeably in recipes (I prefer to use a 50/50 blend of each) based on what type of bread you are looking to make. Bread flour is more absorbent than all purpose flour, however, so you will need to add about 1 tablespoon of extra liquid for every cup of flour your substitute.

      Here are a few recipes that call for bread flour: French-Style Country Bread: http://bit.ly/18hoYCU
      Oatmeal Toasting & Sandwich Bread: http://bit.ly/1DyiNmI
      And for fun, our Buttery Snickerdoodle recipe, which surprise! Uses bread flour! http://bit.ly/16w6rki

      Have fun with your bread flour! Happy baking. –Kye@KAF

  12. Barbara

    I don’t have the dough improver, but do have the vital wheat gluten. Do you still use only a tablespoon? I also have ascorbic acid, since you mentioned that was an ingredient of the dough improver, how much should I add of that?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can add just a pinch (a scant 1/8 teaspoon) of ascorbic acid to make the yeast happy, which will promote a nice rise. 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vital wheat gluten should be just about the right amount to ensure a tender texture and an even crumb. This should give you an outstanding oatmeal loaf! Good luck and happy baking! –Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Nancy, you can go ahead and use 3/4 cup of steel cut oats in place of the rolled oats in this recipe if you like. Be sure to allow the oats to soften in the boiling water or soak overnight as steel-cut oats are much harder than traditional rolled oats. This will ensure that the oats melt into the crumb of the bread and give you a tender bread with all the benefits of being a whole grain. Happy bread baking! –Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You certainly can, Vee, but I would recommend adding an additional tablespoon of water per each cup of bread flour substituted, since this flour will absorb more liquid than AP flour will. Barb@KAF

  13. Debby

    I made this tonight & it’s delicious!! It makes a very large beautiful loaf. I’ll definitely be making this often! Thank you as always for another great recipe. It’s one of the best tasting loaves I’ve made in a long time and I know it’ll be a family favorite.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad this recipe was a hit with you and your family, Debby! Barb@KAF

  14. mumpy

    this bread – or any oatmeal bread, for that matter – is delicious made with honey for those who don’t care for molasses…..i do it all the time…..oatmeal bread is a huge favorite with our gang.

  15. CathyGA

    Hi, I’m working on learning to be a baker at home. I made one good loaf, Yea! I would love to have Oat bread now. I would like to replace the molasses with some Agave. That will make it dark, but for flavor I thought about adding brown sugar dissolved into some light Agave for better flavor. Anything I must do to the wet vs. dry ingredients?

    Love your flours and site!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Cathy, congratulations on your first successful loaf! It is an interesting idea you have, replacing the molasses with agave. Agave nectar is about 25% sweeter than molasses by volume, so you might consider reducing the agave to 3 tablespoons unless you would like a slightly sweet oatmeal bread. As for adding the brown sugar, that will deepen the color and help make the crust brown more, but again it will make the already sweet agave even sweeter. If you are determined to give this a try, I would recommend using 1 tablespoon of brown sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon of agave. You may need to add 1 additional tablespoon of water to be sure that the dough is properly hydrated (dough should be smooth and slightly tacky). Have fun experimenting with these adjustments! Happy oatmeal bread baking to you!–Kye@KAF

  16. Mary Karen McHattike

    Question Do you have a suggestion of what I can use in this recipe to replace the oil? I’m trying not to use any kind of oil in my cooking (Dr. Esseltyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart disease diet).

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, you can replace the 1/4 c. oil in this recipe with 1/4 c. apple sauce. Any type of fruit or vegetable puree can give your bread the moistness you’re looking for (pumpkin, banana, etc.); but the subtle apple flavor will be a nice compliment to the earthy taste of the oats. Good luck and happy baking! –Kye@KAF

  17. lynn

    This is what I call Nova Scotia Brown Bread, as we have only found it sold by local Nova Scotia bakeries for the last 4-5 decades. I have been working on replicating that Edna’s Bakery loaf for the past couple years. And I have made many converts to this bread where I live as friends have acted at test tasters.

    The molasses matters to the taste of the bread. In Nova Scotia they have Crosby’s Molasses and they use a lot of it. When was the last time you saw molasses sold by the gallon in the US? Get the best tasting Molasses you can afford.

    And the oatmeal is good for you. This bread doesn’t seem to cause issues with a type 2 diet controlled diabetic in my family.

  18. Dodger

    I like to mill my own flour from whole wheat grains. Do I substitute equal amounts of my home milled flour for the AP flour here? Also, I have red, hard white and soft white berries; which do I use and why? As you can see, I’m baking with my “training wheels” on, as I learn the ropes of the craft. I enjoy your articles very much. Many thanks.
    Roger the Dodger

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Dodger, you’ll probably want to use a hard wheat for baking bread, as this will have a higher protein content and will develop more gluten. If you substitute your freshly ground whole wheat flour for all-purpose it will absorb more liquid, so you’ll likely need to add a few tablespoons extra water to the recipe. I would start by substituting half the flour with your whole wheat and see how the recipe works. Here’s a post you might find interesting. Barb@KAF

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