In a medium bowl, mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of the molasses; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; pour out and reserve 2 tablespoons, leaving 3 tablespoons in the pan. Add the buttermilk to the pan and cook over low heat just until warm to the touch, about 2 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, oats and salt. Add the buttermilk mixture and the remaining molasses; beat at low speed for 2 minutes. Add the yeast and the rice; beat for 1 minute. Beat in the potato flakes and 1 cup of the bread flour. Beat in 3 cups of the remaining bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms, about 5 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Using a dough hook, knead the dough at low speed for 6 minutes. Scrape onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, adding up to 1/2 cup of the remaining bread flour.
Lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough and turn to coat; cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough stand in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 hours.
Brush two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans with some of the reserved melted butter and sprinkle lightly with the sesame seeds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Shape into loaves and gently ease into the prepared pans. Alternatively, for braided loaves, quarter the dough and roll each piece into a 12-inch-long rope. Loosely twist 2 ropes together and ease the loaves into the pans, tucking the ends underneath. Brush the loaves with melted butter and cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand until risen 1 inch above the rims of the pans, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for 50 minutes, until risen and golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centers registers 190°. Brush the tops with the remaining butter; then turn the loaves out onto wire racks to cool completely.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 6, but let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight, or freeze it for up to 1 week. Thaw completely and let rise. The baked bread can be frozen for up to 1 month or stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
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