Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Two weeks ago, I flew to Columbus/Ohio, to visit my daughter. In my carry-on I had a freezer bag with sourdough, hoping it wouldn't cause suspicion and confiscation at the airport security.

Valerie had asked me to show her and her co-workers at "Two Caterers", how to bake a high hydration bread à la Chad Robertson of Tartine fame.

"Tartine"-breads are known for their "holyness", and their excellent taste. They are great favorites of mine, and I bake them in all possible variations (Brewer's Bread, Acorn Levain)

The next day I walked to a nearby "Giant Eagle"-supermarket to look for ingredients. I wanted to bake a porridge bread (the grain mush makes it especially moist). And it should have nuts in it.

The fancy salad bowl was barely big enough for mixing the flours

The different flours I needed were easy to find, and, also, rolled oats for the porridge. For the nuts I opted for almond slices. Fortunately, my daughter owned a scale. A polka-dotted salad bowl and a large pot at my little studio Airbnb could serve as mixing bowls.

I made use of all vessels my Airbnb had to offer

I cooked the porridge, toasted the almonds, mixed the dough,  and carried the whole shebang to the kitchen of "Two Caterers", where, for the next two days, I baked bread with baker Zeek, pastry chef Cheryl, and manager James. And had the chance to peek into pots, pans and woks of all the cooks. 

Cheryl making desserts

Sampling Cheryl's delicious dessert creations was, of course, strictly for continuing education purposes! 

Cheryl and Zeek proudly present their loaves

The two breads turned out to be a great success! One loaf, still warm, was quickly devoured - everybody in the kitchen wanted to try a piece. (The second bread was carried off to a safe place before it could vanish, too.)

Everyone wanted to try a piece, and one loaf was gone in no time

Soon as I got home from my trip, I baked another Oat Porridge Almond Bread for us - it was so delicious.

I tweaked the basic formula from "Tartine: Book No. 3" a bit, the original contains less sourdough (only a third of the starter, the rest is supposed to be discarded - something I would hate to do) and very mild. I prefer a slightly tangier bread, and use the whole amount. 

From Ken Forkish ("Flour Water Salt Yeast") I learned a few tricks: later additions to the dough can be better incorporated by "Pinch and Fold", instead of just folding it (see Einkorn-Hazelnut-Levain.)

We can never wait for the bread to cool completely

OAT PORRIDGE BREAD WITH TOASTED ALMONDS  (adapted from "Tartine: Book No. 3")

Feeding (2 x the day before)
10 g of starter (discard rest, or use for other purposes)
20 g of flour blend (1/2 bread/1/2 whole wheat)
20 g water (80-85ºF/26-29ºC)

10 g/1/2 tbsp. matured starter (discard rest, or use for other purposes)
50 g bread flour
50 g whole wheat
100 g water (80-85ºF/26-29ºC)

Oat Porridge
69 g old-fashioned rolled oats (or cracked oats)
181 g water
1 g salt

Final Dough
250 g high-extraction wheat flour (or 103 g bread flour + 147 g whole wheat)
250 g all-purpose flour 35 g wheat germ (raw)
430 g water, divided
210 g levain (all)
14 g salt
250 g cooked porridge, cooled to room temperature
100 g almond slices, toasted
rolled or cracked oats, for coating

Feed starter 2 x daily (to increase activity).

6:00 - 8:00 am: Mix levain. Cover, and leave for 6-10 hours at warm room temperature, or until a teaspoonful starter floats in water (swim test).

Swim test: the starter should float in water

For the porridge: cook oats with 3/4 of the water over low heat, stirring constantly until all water is absorbed. Add remaining water and salt, and keep stirring, until porridge is creamy and soft. (Adjust with a bit more water if needed). Let cool.

Oat porridge

12:00 - 18:00 pm: When levain is ready, transfer it to a large bowl, add 400 g of the water, and whisk to dissolve. In a second bowl, mix flours and wheat germ.

Dissolve levain in water...
Mix flours

...then stir flour mixture into dissolved starter (I use a Danish dough whisk)

Add flour mixture to dissolved levain and stir (Danish dough whisk, large spoon, or hand) until all flour is hydrated.

Cover, and let rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes (and up to 4 hours) in a warm place.

Folding and pinching the dough to incorporate additions

Add salt and reserved (lukewarm) water to the dough. Pinch and fold to combine: using your hands, pull up dough around the bowl, fold it over to the center, then pinch it several times. Repeat pinching and folding procedure until most of the added water is incorporated.

Working in porridge and almonds

Cover, and let dough rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold it, leave it for another 30 minutes, then add porridge and toasted almonds, pinching and folding 4-6 times, until roughly incorporated (see above).

Ferment dough for another 2 hours, stretching and folding it 4 more times at 30 minute intervals. (In the end the dough should feel billowy, with 20-30% increase in volume. If not, let it rise for another 30-60 minutes.)

Dough after 3 times S&F

Transfer dough to floured work surface. Lightly flour top. Using oiled spatula(s), work into a round by drawing the spatula(s) around it in circles to create surface tension, while rotating it. (Dough ball should be taut and smooth).

Pre-shape dough into a round

Lightly flour dough ball again, cover (I use the mixing bowl), and let it rest for 20-30 minutes (it will spread out again).

Generously flour rising basket (a 50/50 wheat and rice flour mixture works well to prevent sticking.) Sprinkle the bottom with rolled oats (killing two birds with one stone: the bread will look nice, and, even more important, it will not stick to the basket.)

Prepeared rising basket

Using floured, or oiled bench knife, flip dough around, floured-side down. With floured hands, fold up the bottom side by a third, then pull and fold both sides to the center, and the top down to the middle, gently pressing seams to seal.  Finally, fold bottom up over top fold, leaving the seam underneath.

Folded dough package (here an ancient grain loaf)

With floured hands, rotate dough ball until taut, dusting it with more flour if necessary. Place it into the rising basket, seam-side up.

Gently lift dough edges a bit and slide more oat flakes between dough and side of basket (to further prevent sticking). Sprinkle top of dough with flour.

 Shaped bread (here an ancient grain bread)

Place basket in plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight. (No warming up necessary).

Risen bread

3. TAG
Preheat oven to 500ºF/260ºC, with Dutch oven in the middle. Keep a large piece of parchment paper and scissors at hand on your counter.

With an energetic smack, turn (cold) bread out onto parchment paper (if you are too timid, it might stick to the basket.) Cut paper around bread, leaving two longer handles to make a sling (Uncut, it will crinkle in the pot.)

The paper sling ensures a painless transport to the Dutch oven

Score bread about 1/2-inch/1-cm deep in a # pattern (or as desired.)

Take hot pot out of the oven, remove lid (I place my oven mitt on top so that I don't forget how hot it is) and transfer bread with paper sling to Dutch oven. Replace lid.

Bread in Dutch oven

Bake bread, covered, for 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 450ºF/230ºC, and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove lid, and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, until loaf is deep golden brown and registers at least 200°F/93ºC.

Take bread out of Dutch oven (tilt pot, grab paper handle and slide loaf out onto wire rack.) Peel off paper. Let bread cool completely before cutting it (if you have more self-discipline than we do!)

Freshly baked Oat Porridge Bread


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