Oat bread is a versatile, hearty, and satisfying quick bread that is suitable for breakfast, Haferbrot brunch, or snack time. It’s a healthy and easy-to-make alternative to conventional wheat bread that can be made dairy-free as well.
The Health Benefits of Oat Flour in Bread Baking
Oat flour is a whole-grain product that is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins A and E, antioxidants, and polyphenols. It also contains b-glucan, a viscous polysaccharide that is important for the formation of yeast cells. In addition, oat flour has high lipid content and is lower in fat than most other cereals. It is thus an excellent source of energy and unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the process of making oat bread, water, enzymes, and mechanical energy transform oat flour into a dough with spongy and porous characteristics. This structure is formed by a network of gelatinized starch granules and protein strands that form the pore walls. The pore size and distribution are determined by the presence of gluten.
The dilution of wheat gluten and the mechanical disruption of the gluten network by bran particles influence loaf volume (Pomeranz et al 1977, Gan et al 1992). A high proportion of oat flour, as well as whole-wheat flour, has been shown to affect bread quality in the process of partial substitution with wheat flour for full-baked breads (Zhang et al 1998, Flander et al 2002, Salmenkallio-Marttila et al 2004b). The permeability of oat flour increases during baking. This is because the oat flour is prone to starch swelling and leaching, which decreases its water-binding capacity and affects gas retention and bread texture.
Partial replacement of wheat flour with oat flour affects bread quality at as low as 10% substitution (Zhang et al 1998, Salmenkallio-Marttila and Autio 1997). The effects of the replacement of whole-wheat flour with oat flour on bread texture are dependent on the amount of gluten in the oat flour and on the water content of the dough. The most important change is that oat flour contains less starch than wheat flour, which leads to less elasticity of the dough and to a reduction in volume of the final bread product.
A study examining the effect of oat flour on sensory properties revealed that it significantly reduced the bread’s specific loaf volume and increased the bread’s instrumental chewiness. However, this effect was not significantly different from that of white wheat flour-based breads.
Another study found that oat flour with beta-glucan effectively reduced serum cholesterol levels and reduced fasting metabolic rate (FMD) in hypercholesterolemic patients. This study suggests that oat flour with beta-glucan can be used to produce high-quality breads for the prevention of hypercholesterolemia and associated cardiovascular diseases.
Oat bran is rich in a variety of nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and potassium. It also contains a major storage protein, avenalin. This protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein and has nearly the same bioavailability as proteins from other grains, such as wheat and rye. It is considered to be an important food nutrient for people with chronic diseases or who have low dietary intakes of other proteins.