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 Old-fashioned doesn’t have to mean dull, boring and outdated; it can mean comfort at its finest – especially when it comes to food.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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

    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

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