Preparation / Directions:
Makes 2 cottage loaves or 9-inch loaves
Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and pour boiling water over them. Stir in the butter, dry milk, molasses, and salt. Let stand until cool. Be sure mixture is really cool - the only way to tell is to stir up the mixture, then stick a finger deep into it; you should be able to hold it there comfortably.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add this to the oatmeal mixture. Stir in the whole wheat flour and about 3 cups of the white flour until it become difficult to stir.
Turn the dough out onto a floured working surface and let rest while you clean out and grease your bowl. Then start kneading, adding more white flour as necessary. It will be a very sticky dough and you'll have to keep adding more flour in order to knead, but 10 minutes and 1 additional cup of the flour will be enough. Sprinkle the raisins over the dough and knead them in. Place the dough in the greased bowl, turning to coat. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, until double in bulk - about 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the dough out and divide in half.* To make cottage loaves break up each half into two pieces - one piece for the topknot, which should be a third of the total. Separate these pieces and cover with plastic wrap, leaving them simply on your work area, for 45 minutes.
Now take on of the larger pieces and pat it out into a flat 7-inch circle. With a sharp knife, make a cross about 1 1/2 inches across. Shape one of the smaller pieces into a ball and place it on top of the circle. Now making a cone of your thumb and fingers, thrust them through the center of the topknot straight down through into the circle base of the dough to form a hole. Repeat the same procedure with the other two pieces. With a spatula transfer the loaves onto greased baking sheets. Let rest 10 minutes.
Place the baking sheets on the lowest shelf of an unlit oven and set the temperature at 450 F. As the oven heats up the loaves will expand, which is fun to watch if your oven has a glass door and a light inside. After 25 minutes, check to see if the loaves are getting too brown on top; if so, cover them with foil. They'll need a total of 40 minutes baking. Then remove the loaves and cool on racks.
* If you want to make regular baking pan loaves, simply form into the usual loaf shapes and place in 2 greased 9-inch bread pans. Cover and let rise 45 minutes, then bake in a 375 F preheated oven for 45 minu