Rolled Oat Sourdough Boule #BreadBakers

"Eat your oatmeal!" was a refrain I heard a lot growing up. I was not, to put it mildly, a fan. I didn't care that it was good for you (saying "it's good for you!" which is basically a kid-appetite killer under the best of circumstances). I didn't care that you could trick it out with all manner of add-ons—cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, bananas and whatnot—to the point where the oatmeal was just an afterthought. Nope, wasn't buying it. At the heart of my dislike was the fact that oatmeal just looked…well, gross. Right up there with raw oysters and clams in the visually unappealing department. I blame summer camp for this (any Wel-Met campers out there? REPRESENT!). Oatmeal—or a loose, watery, tasteless approximation thereof—was a camp breakfast staple and it was rarely eaten. So at the end of each meal, we'd bring our dirty dishes and leftovers up to the kitchen, where the uneaten bowls of oatmeal were unceremoniously dumped into these huge waste vats and…if you feel like barfing just from the disgusting image you now have in your head, imagine what it was like to look at day after day. Yuck. Or as we would say in my family, "Gross meows"—thanks to my younger brother's mangling of "Gross me out." I was scarred.

Thankfully, years later and after much therapy, I've embraced this much maligned (in my own head) grain. I loves me some oatmeal. Plain oatmeal, flavored oatmeal, oatmeal with stuff mixed in, oatmeal bars, oatmeal cookies, oatmeal bread…ESPECIALLY oatmeal bread. Oatmeal makes a for hearty addition to breads with texture, flavor and moistness. I've mostly baked oatmeal quick breads but recently branched out to yeast breads with great success. Oatmeal bread bread with dried fruit and pecans?  BEEG hit. So much so that I've been looking for more ways to bake with oatmeal and oat flour.

I got the idea to try a sourdough oatmeal bread when I cleaned out the fridge a couple of weeks ago (when it starts to look like a science project, it's time, no?) and unearthed, among other things, a long-forgotten starter was looking quite funky, to say the least. A few days' worth of TLC and that baby was bubbling away like nobody's business. Seriously, a good sourdough starter, much like cockroaches and Cher, could probably survive a nuclear attack. They're TOUGH. I found this rolled oat sourdough boule on the Bakery Bits site, which is one of my favorites. (I mean, not only does it have some great recipes but they've also got tons of STUFF to buy, all the way from the UK. And…more stuff? Yes, please.) I loved the idea of oats in the levain, where they would develop a deeper flavor, not only as the levain fermented, but overnight in the dough as well. It was an interesting dough to work with, somewhat dry and difficult to stretch and fold, but the result was so good that it's become a new favorite. Crisp, chewy crust? Moist, dense, creamy crumb? A hearty bread that stands up to anything (cheeeeese!) AND stands alone? No argument here. No more whinging and moaning, no more gross meows. This is one oatmeal I'll definitely eat.

Thanks to Rocio at Kids and Chic for this month's #BreadBakers theme!

Rolled Oat Sourdough Boule

Ingredients

Levain

  • 75g sourdough starter (1:1)
  • 75g bread flour
  • 100g water
  • 75g rolled oats

Main Dough

  • 650g water
  • 1kg 00 flour
  • 20g sea salt
  • 20g rolled oats

Directions

  1. Day 1 Morning: Make the levain by stirring together the starter, flour, water and rolled oats. Cover and set aside.
  2. Day 1 Evening: In a large bowl, mix together the 650g of water and all of the levain. Then add the salt and flour, mixing well until the dough comes together and no dry flour remains. Cover the dough and let rest for about 30 minutes.
  3. After the rest period, stretch and fold the dough. Repeat the process 3 more times over the next hour.
  4. After the last stretch-and-fold, turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a boule, then place seam side up in a banneton that has been dusted with flour and coated with rolled oats. Cover the bannetons and proof overnight.
  5. Day 2 Morning: Remove the bannetons from the fridge and let rest (they don't need to come to room temperature.) Place covered bakers in the oven while it preheats 425°.
  6. When ready to bake, turn the boules out onto a lightly floured surface, slash the top, CAREFULLY place the boules into the bakers, cover and return to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
  7. After 45 minutes, turn the oven down to 375°, remove the lids of the covered bakers and bake for another 10–15 minutes or until the crust in a deep golden brown, watching carefully so the oats don't burn.
  8. Remove the boules from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes

There's a stretch-and-fold video here but it's somewhat misleading as to how your dough will look. I found it to be a very tight, dry dough, not quite the well-hydrated dough in the video. I actually wondered if I'd done something wrong, but based on the result, I guess not! But my stretches and folds were more like grab the dough, bounce it up and down to stretch it, then fold it over and repeat. Not pretty but it worked.

You can either make 2 boules, like I did, or one large one. Based on the size of my two boules, one would be huge.

I sprinkled oats in the bannetons, but also spritzed them lightly with water, then rolled the tops in more oats for better coverage. Anything other than flour sprinkled in my bannetons always seems to fall to the bottom.

The original recipe recommends baking the boules in a La Cloche. I used one La Cloche and my Emile Henry covered baker and couldn't tell the difference between the two.

Overall, I was very happy with my first bake, but I'll definitely try playing around with the hydration a bit going forward. I'd also probably bake a bit longer for a more golden crust (I was a little afraid of overbaking, so mine was a little pale, I think.)

I also want to try this with different flours. I'm only familiar with using "00" flour for things like pizza and pasta and was actually surprised to see it used in a number of breads from Bakery Bits (although I'm surprised that I was surprised because it's still flour, right?) To be honest though, even after reading the article on Bakery Bits, I'm not still not sure if it made a difference.

Adapted from Bakery Bits

Oatmeal Breads from #BreadBakers

Oatmeal Bread themed #BreadBakers:
BreadBakers
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com