We have made this delicious bread so many times that I know the recipe by heart. It is by far my favorite white bread recipe.
About 6 cups white flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached White)
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 TBS. soft butter
1/2 cup real maple syrup, molasses or honey (I use the maple syrup)
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups boiling water
2 pachages active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
(optional 1 cup seedless raisins)
Early in the morning, put rolled oats in a large bread bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Make breakfast and in about half an hour or whenever you are done with breakfast, it will still be warm. Soak the yeast in the 1/3 cup of lukewarm water in a separate bowl. Let it stand five minutes or so. Meanwhile, add to the soaked oats the salt, maple syrup and butter. Stir it up.
By now the yeast is ready. Add it to the above mixture. Next add and stir in the first two cups of flour, then two more cups. The second two may be hard to stir but they will merge in time. The last two cups will need to be kneaded in. Roll up your sleeves, sprinkle a little flour on the countertop and knead it in. When all the flour has been added, shape the dough into a mound in a clean bowl. Cover with a dish towel and leave for several hours. Get some lessons done, read to the kiddies or take a nap. It doesn't matter if you leave it an hour too long--this is not a science but an art. You will know it is ready when it is about twice as high and smells delicious. I'd say about two hours or so.
Next, chop it down with a knife (I know it is sad to do this since it worked so hard to rise). Divide the dough and place into two well greased bread pans. Cover the entire bottom of the pans. Cover again with the towel. This time it will rise more quickly. When the loaves are round and beautiful above the bread pans, pop them into the oven at 325 degrees on a bottom rack. Bake them for 50-60 minutes until golden.
When the timer goes off, take them out and tip them out of their pans onto a cooling rack. Butter the crusts. Let cool to room temperature, slice and eat. :) Delicious with butter, apple butter or jam. Enjoy!