Sourdough Steel-Cut Oat Porridge Bread

This sourdough porridge bread is one of our all-time favorites. Combining a moist open crumb under a beautiful crisp crust, it pairs well with everything from butter to main courses. With the added moisture from the oats, this loaf keeps well on the counter for days without drying out. Just tip the loaf up, sliced end down on a cutting board. But bread this delicious won’t last long!

Your first attempt at this loaf might be challenging. While the steel cuts oats add great taste and texture, they don’t play well with gluten that holds bubbles that make the bread rise. The key is to gently incorporate the oats into the dough. After adding the oats, work the dough carefully to build strength without breaking up the oats and losing the strength of the dough. While your first attempt might not be picture perfect, it will still be delicious! 

Yield: Two loaves.
Timing: Note: Graph does not include pre-preparation of ready to use mature, active white sourdough starter with 100% hydration. *see below.

Video

Porridge

IngredientsGrams
Ounces
Steel-cut Oats1204.2
Cold water2408.5
Pinch of salt--

Main Dough

IngredientsGrams
Ounces
Mature starter at 100% hydration*1505.3
Warm water (80-85F / 27-29C)47516.6
All-purpose flour50017.6
Spelt flour (optional: whole wheat flour)2007.1
Fine sea salt140.5
Warm water (80-85F / 27-29C)501.8
Rolled oats and wheat bran (optional)100.3

*Note: Starter that is fed equal parts water and flour to an active starter. (100g flour & 100g water). If you have not used your active starter in a week then you will need to feed it at least twice before using it for baking bread. After feeding and prior to use in the recipe, allow the starter to rest 4-5 hours at 70-75C / 21-24C. You will notice surface bubbles and the starter will almost double in volume. If the starter starts to drop in volume it has gone for too long a time or too warm a temperature and you need to re-feed it and wait again. Measure out 150 grams mature starter for this recipe.

Equipment: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer, large mixing bowl, small, covered saucepan, dough whisk, parchment paper, banneton or bowl with linen towel, razor blade for scoring, Dutch oven for baking.

Make porridge: Gently simmer oats, water, and salt in a saucepan for 10-15 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid sticking. You may want to partially cover the pan. The goal is to cook the oats just until they absorb all the water. They should retain some “bite” and not become gummy. Spread oats on a baking sheet to cool, but don’t let them dry out and become hard. 

Mix the dough: Add 475g of 80-85F water to a large mixing bowl. (Microwaving 2 cups of cool tap water in a heat resistant glass container for 1 minute should create the right temperature.) If in doubt, check it before adding the starter. Better too cool than too warm. Add in 150 g of starter. Whisk gently to a consistent liquid mixture. Separately whisk together both flours and add to water about one third at a time. After adding each third, mix with a sturdy dough whisk. For the first two thirds of the flour, the mixture will be soupy. After adding the last third, continue mixing until a stiff and shaggy dough forms in the center of the bowl and most of the dry bits have been absorbed. Place in the Proofer to rest for 20 minutes at 80F / 27C.

Add remaining water and salt: Sprinkle 14 g of salt over the dough and the remaining 50 g of water holding back about 15 g (a tablespoon). You can always add more water, but you can’t take it out. Work the dough with your clean bare hand, squeezing through your fingers and turning to incorporate the salt and water. Expect the dough to be sticky. You may adjust the final amount of water to your preference. More water will make the dough more pliable and should improve the final rise and crumb but will also be more sticky and harder to handle.

Slap fold the dough for 5 minutes - optional but recommended: To develop the best dough strength and structure in the loaf, slap fold the dough on a clean counter BEFORE adding the oats. Continue until the dough develops noticeable strength but is still very sticky. The dough needs to be soft enough to fold in the cooked oats. Return the dough to a large mixing bowl and let it rest for 5 minutes.
(TIP: Maurizio Leo at The Perfect Loaf has easy-to-follow slap fold directions and a video: www.theperfectloaf.com/guides/slap-and-fold) 

Add the cooked oats: Spread the cool cooked oats over the top of the dough. Lift the dough from the edges and lay it over the opposite sides of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat so that 6 folds complete one full rotation of the bowl. While you will begin to work the oats into the dough, there is no need to completely mix in the oats at this time. You will be folding the dough 4 more times giving you ample opportunity to create a uniform dough/oatmeal mixture. Working the dough too hard after adding the oats may break up the soft oat berries and degrade the structure of the loaf. Return the dough to the Proofer keeping the temperature at 80F / 27C. Be sure to use the water tray and leave the bowl uncovered.

TIP: If working in a cold kitchen, the dough temperature may drop after slap folding. The is especially true is you are working on a granite or marble countertop. When returning the dough to the Proofer, place a piece of aluminum foil lightly over the bowl to boost the dough temperature more quickly. Check the dough temperature with quick read thermometer after 20 minutes (at the next fold). Remove the foil as the dough reaches the setpoint of 80F or it may become too warm.

Continue folding the dough: Lift and fold the dough two more times at 20-minute intervals, then twice more at 30-minute intervals for a total of 4 additional folds. For the first folds the dough will be noticeably softer. Lift the dough high to give it a good stretch. As you continue to fold, the dough will develop more strength. Reduce the height of the lift and be careful not to let the dough tear. After the last fold leave the dough in the Proofer for a bulk rise about 1.5-2 hours, still at 80F.

Pre-shape the dough. Remove the bowl of dough, which has doubled in size, from the Proofer. Lightly flour your working surface. Using a flexible bowl scraper, gently push the edges of the dough and roll it gently from the bowl to the floured surface. Try not to mash the dough but gently maneuver on the surface. Sprinkle a little flour along a line across the center of the dough. Using the flat edge of the bowl scraper, cut a line to separate the dough into two halves. The dusting of flour will allow you to make a clean cut without sticking.
Flour your fingers. Lift an edge of the dough, pull it up and over to the other side. Keep lifting from different edges while keeping it in a round shape. If it sticks to the surface use your bench scraper or a flat smooth spatula to free the dough and continue to work with it. If needed dust off your fingers and continue working until the dough firms up and holds a round shape. Repeat with the other half of the dough. A flexible bowl scraper will help to more easily lift and shape the dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. 

Dough check and container preparation. If the dough flattens like a pancake, dust a bit more flour on top of the dough and gently turn it over. Do another pre-shape and let it sit for another 15 minutes. For the best shaped loaf, use a banneton for the final rise. Sprinkle rice flour directly into a banneton. You may also sprinkle a little wheat bran in the bottom of your floured banneton for easier removal of the dough.

Final shape. Lightly sprinkle flour on top of the dough and use the bench scraper to invert dough floured side down. Gently stretch the sides of the dough out and fold back to the center, then pull the front of the dough away from you and fold back. Rotate the dough 180 degrees and repeat. Then fold the dough back on itself, adjusting to match the shape of your banneton. Leave in a round shape if using a round container for the final rise. Use your bench scraper to assist in lifting the whole dough and gently place in the banneton, basket or bowl seam side up. (Optional: sprinkle some rolled oats on the counter and roll the dough over the oats – the side that will be down in the banneton.) 

Overnight cold proof. Place each banneton inside a plastic bag for an overnight proof in the refrigerator (8-10 hours). To avoid the dough sticking to the bag, catch some air in the bag then twist shut and seal the end to form a balloon shape.

Turn oven on. Preheat oven to 500 F / 260 C. After the oven is at temperature, place a Dutch oven with lid on the middle rack for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare for baking. Starting with a larger than-your-loaf sized piece of parchment paper, cut a sling that will fit in the bottom of your Dutch oven with handles on the ends. Lay the parchment over the risen dough in the banneton. Hold your wide-open hand – or a stiff piece of cardboard – against the parchment and gently invert the banneton. Lift the banneton carefully from the dough. 

Score the dough. Using a razor blade or lame, make a smooth and quick ½” deep score (cut) down the length of the dough near the top. The score allows for easy expansion of the loaf as it expands during baking.

Bake the loaf. Remove the pre-heated Dutch oven from the oven, place on a heat proof surface and remove lid. Lift the dough by the parchment paper sling handles, carefully lower into the hot Dutch oven and quickly replace the lid. Return the Dutch oven to the oven. Reduce the temperature to 450F / 230C. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the Dutch oven lid. Continue to bake until crust is desired brownness, another 15-20 minutes.

Cool the loaf. Make sure the loaf cools completely for the final stage of baking. The loaf should cool for a full 2 hours before slicing to ensure a nice crispy crust and moist open crumb interior. 

Storage. This delicious bread stays fresh for at least 3 days. To maintain a crisp crust, leave the loaf uncovered and turned up on end with the cut side down on a cutting board. In very dry conditions you may stand a paper bag (not plastic) over the loaf to maintain a bit more moisture in the loaf.

Overall Bread Formula

IngredientsGramsOuncesBaker’s %
All-purpose unbleached flour, about 12% protein50017.671.4%
Spelt flour2007.128.6%
Oats36012.751.4%
Water47516.867.9%
Salt140.492.0%

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