Avril's Oat Bread
Well, apparently this is not Avril's recipe, but instead Irene's, as denoted on the scrap of paper given to me by Avril, my best friend's mom and culinary legend. On a recent trip back to Michigan, we stayed with Avril and her husband Mervyn on their dairy farm in the north-east part of the state.
Avril ran her own restaurant back in Ireland before moving to America in 2001, and has since been hosting (very lucky) friends and family at the Roundtree farmhouse. I love the way Avril entertains - she puts on a spread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with hot cups of espresso always on hand and wine always flowing. Yet, there are no frills or formalities - she makes the whole affair seem effortless. In fact, I think for her it is. The atmosphere is relaxed, warm, and welcoming, and the food unwaveringly delicious.
On our recent visit, Avril left this bread on the kitchen bench over the weekend - available for snacking with a generous smear of butter, or to go alongside some fresh summer berries and yogurt for breakfast. The simple loaf is essentially made with just oats and yogurt; it is hearty and satiating yet healthy and wholesome, especially when packed with a mix of nuts and seeds, as Avril served hers.
After arriving back in Australia a couple of weeks ago, I hit the ground running, catching up on work and life, leaving little time to putter away in the kitchen. This easy-to-make loaf quickly became a staple at our place, as it's super simple to make, requires ingredients I've always got on hand, and keeps for a long time. A thick slice of the stuff has served Dave and I well on mornings when we're running late, but also accompanies cups of tea when friends pop by unannounced. This approach to cooking is in the spirit of Avril - there is no need to mask the effort that goes into entertaining. Rather, it can just be easy.
Avril's Oat Bread
500 grams rolled oats
500 grams plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous handful of nuts and/or seeds, such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well-combined. Press batter evenly into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake until golden and cooked through, about 1 hour. Allow to cool and remove from pan. Slice and serve immediately with butter or honey, or wrap tightly in cling wrap and keep up to 1 week.
Makes 1 loaf