Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joybee's Baking Journal: Oatmeal Bread

*Yay! I have my first follower (thanks Faith).

Bread baking is a true test of patience, especially when it is sourdough. I have wanted to make this bread for a week, but I kept forgetting to 'feed' my starter.

I like to feed my sourdough starter, or barm, the night before baking the bread. I let it sit overnight to be active and at room temperature by morning. Then if I start by 7:30am I can have the bread done by 5:00pm at the latest (allowing for 4 hour initial rise, and 2 hour final proof, but this varies depending on many factors).

Finally Sunday night I remembered to feed my barm and start the process of making the bread.

Oatmeal Bread
(variation of 'Multigain Bread Extrodinare' from The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

Night before baking (feed the barm):
The final weight of the dough is 2 lbs, I made 16 oz of barm.
I am experimenting with how much barm to add, I've used as little as one cup but this time I wanted to add as much as possible, hoping to get a good rise. I thought it would be a good idea to use no more than 1/2 the final dough weight in barm, so I would be doubling the barm just like when I feed it. (when I feed the barm, I at least double the weight with equal parts flour and water).
8 oz sourdough starter
4 oz water
4 oz whole wheat flour
6 Tbsp rolled oats

The recipe calls for a 'soaker' which means to soak the grains over night in water, I just added the grains to the barm which is very similar, they may get broken down more as the yeast feeds on them though. I also only used oatmeal instead of multiple grains because that is all I had on hand. I also used a little whole wheat flour in the barm to make up for not adding more grains, and just because I wanted to.

Next Morning (make the dough):
By the morning, my barm was bubbly and had grown to twice it's volume. And it smelled fabulous, a yeasty dough smell that is hard to describe unless you try your own sourdough. Remember that this barm is about 8 oz flour and 8 oz (maybe more)water plus the oats. So I subtract these amounts from the recipe.
5.5 oz Bread flour
1.5 oz brown sugar
.38 oz salt
1 oz honey
3 Tbsp powdered milk (as a substitute for the 1/2 cup regular or butter milk)

I used the paddle attachment on my mixer to mix the ingredients (on low speed) until they came together. At this point I dribbled in a bit more water so all the flour was incorporated. Then switched to the dough hook and kneaded for about 10 minutes on the #2 setting. During the kneading I added additional flour until the dough did not stick to the bottom of the bowl and was 'soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky'.

I then transferred the dough to a large, oiled glass bowl (rolling it to coat it with oil)and covered it with plastic wrap and a towel. I let it rise for 4 hours. At this point, I checked the dough and it looked like it had doubled in size, I shaped the dough into a loaf and placed it in an oiled 9x5 inch loaf pan. This I let proof for about 2.5 hours until it was cresting over the lip of the pan. I baked the loaf in 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes (turning 180 degrees and covering with aluminum foil after 20). Once I took the bread out of the oven I immediately removed it from the pan and, the hardest part, let it cool for 2 hours before slicing.


This bread turned out great! It is soft and fluffy with a tight crumb and a chewy crust. The flavor is subtle, slightly sweet with a hint of sourness. I can't wait to make it again. I may try adding more oatmeal.

The recipe for 'Multigrain Breda Extrodinare' can be found in The Bread Baker's Apprentice pg 187-189 (now on Google books)

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