Monday, January 7, 2013

Quick & Easy Honey-Oat Bread with Sage Butter (but without the spent grains from the honey-sage beer you just brewed)

Hot loaf of quick and easy honey-oat bread

This is the fastest, easiest bread I have ever made. Seriously, it might be easier to make it by hand than it is to dig your bread machine out from the back of the cabinet. One bowl, one spoon, zero kneading.

Best of all, it's a yeast bread that goes from start to finish in a little over an hour (assuming you're not stopping to take photographs of every step). The trade-off is that it is a little heavier than your traditional loaf. I'm guessing it might not be great for sandwiches, but it is fantastic for eating half the loaf while it's still hot out of the oven. Correction: we ate 3/4 of the loaf while it was hot, but what was left the next day was excellent for sandwiches. 

Honey-oat bread with sage butter
Butter infused with flecks of fresh sage

Cracked barley close-up
Cracked barley malt, before brewing
As you may have gathered from the title, I originally planned to bake this using spent grains from the honey-sage beer my friends just made (with sage from my garden!). Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a way to remove the sharp scratchy hulls from the grain, and I didn't think leaving them in was an entirely good idea. 

If you've got a good de-hulling method, I'd love to hear it — email claire (at) or post a comment.

Spent grains from brewing beer
Spent grains, after brewing

Close-up of hulls; spent barley malt, after brewing
The grain is full of sharp pokey hulls. Good for brewing, less good for baking.

So the spent grains went into the compost, and instead I used the plain rolled oats that the original recipe called for. I had doubts about the oats, but they did work out wonderfully in my experimental oatmeal cake, and they were just as good here. 

There are just seven ingredients: yeast, honey, water, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, and salt.

1 Tbsp honey, honey bear in background

You'd think that with a blog name like "" I'd have a whole assortment of exciting honey varieties. Sadly, all I had was a bear full of honey so crystalized I had to chip it out with a sharp knife. To be safe, I dissolved the honey in the hot water before adding the yeast, instead of afterwards. It seems to have worked just fine. 

Yeast bloom in measuring cup
Yeast "bloom" after a few minutes in warm honeyed water

Making it really is simple: 10 minutes of prep, a half-hour to rise, 40 minutes to bake. No kneading is required: just mix the water, honey, and yeast, let them sit for 5 minutes, then stir them into the dry ingredients. Turn it into a buttered loaf pan, give it a half hour to rise, then into the oven and done. 

Honey-oat bread dough
No kneading, no long waiting; just stir well...

Honey oat dough after rising 30 minutes
... and let rise 30 minutes in a buttered loaf pan

Sage butter

Unwilling to completely abandon the honey-sage beer theme, I made sage butter, which was so good on the hot bread that next time I will probably try putting some sage directly in the bread itself. 

To make the sage butter, just chop some fresh sage leaves up fine and mix them into some room-temperature butter until it's smoothish. If you don't have fresh sage, you could probably get away with dried, but I make no promises.

fresh sage (Salvia officinalis) for sage butter

Sage butter for honey-oat bread

Recipe links

I followed Heidi Swanson's "Easy Little Bread" recipe at

Heidi adapted it from Natalie Oldfield's recipe from Gran's Kitchen: Recipes from the Notebooks of Dulcie May Booker (available at; due to be published in the US in March 2013). 

Natalie, in turn, got the recipe from her New Zealander grandmother.