Maple Oat Wheat Bread

Maple Oatmeal Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

1 3/4 c lukewarm water
1 c whole milk
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1 1/2 T yeast
1 T kosher salt
1/4 c olive oil
2 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
3 1/4 c flour

Day One:
Mix the water, milk, yeast, maple syrup and oil in a large bowl or a lidded (not airtight) storage container. I used a bowl, covered with plastic wrap - with a couple small holes poked in. Next, add in the whole wheat flour, AP flour and oatmeal and stir until combined. Let this rest on the counter, covered, in the non-airtight container, for approximately 2-3 hours. The dough should rise and then collapse (flatten on top). Store this dough in the refrigerator for up to a week.

On Baking Day: Grease three 9x4x3-inch loaf pans and set aside. Sprinkle flour on a silpat mat or the counter. Sprinkle flour across the top of the refrigerator dough and then cut or tear off a one-third section of it. Flour your hands and quickly shape the dough into a ball and stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotate the ball as you go around it shaping the dough. Keep in mind that this is a very wet dough. Sprinkle flour as needed on the surface of the dough while you
are working with it. Place the dough (folded ends tucked underneath) inside the loaf pan. Stretch it slightly to form more of an oval in the pan. Repeat for the other three loaves. Allow them to rise for 2 1/2 - 3 hours on the counter. Sprinkle flour on the top of the loaves just before baking.

Twenty minutes before it's time to make the bread, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty broiler tray or pan on the lowest shelf of the oven.

Place your bread in the oven and then pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray (or pan). Quickly close the oven door. (This is essential for breads with a cracked crust. The steam from the water creates the lovely crust.) Bake for 45-50 minutes or until deeply browned and firm. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.