What makes a good bread? I guess the answer to this question depends a lot on where you live and what you grew up with. Personally I think it is important that bread keeps fresh for at least 3-4 days, possibly longer. I need a bread that I can eat for breakfast and dinner, which I can top with jam or a hearty spread, which I can dip into a soup or even eat all by itself. It should have a firm texture with only small holes in the crumb, a firm crust and it needs to me moist.
I learned that to make such a bread at home several things are important:
It should be made of whole wheat flour or a mixture of whole wheat and dark rye.
For extra moisture the addition of soaked wheat berries, cracked wheat, rye chops, or steel cut oats is important.
To keep it fresh, it should be leavened with sourdough. For a nice crust, the oven has to be very hot.
The result is a moist bread with a strong and wonderfully complex taste.
This bread requires some preparation on the day before. Also, the recipe comes in metric measurements only. They are much more exact than cup measurements, which is important for bread baking. Yeah, I am a bread baking snob.
Whole Wheat Oat Sourdough Bread (makes 2 loafes)
150 g steel cut oats
450 ml water (divided)
550 g whole wheat flour (divided)
100 g 100 % hydration sourdough starter* (made from all purpose flour)
20 g fresh yeast (or 7 g active dry yeast)
1 T molasses
2 1/2 t salt
* consisting of equal amounts of flour and water by weight.
12 hours before you want to bake your bread (or over night) put the oats into a bowl and soak in 150 ml water. Cover with a plate or some foil and let sit at room temperature.
At the same time stir together 400 g flour, all of the starter, and 250 ml water. The result will be a rather stiff dough. Cover the mixture with a plate or some foil and keep at room temperature.
On the next day the oats should have absorbed all water and the sourdough mixture should have more than doubled in size. In a large bowl combine sourdough mixture and oat mixture. With a wooden spoon stir to combine.
Crumble in yeast, add remaining flour (150 g), remaining water (50 ml), molasses, and salt. Knead the dough for 10 minutes and let rise covered for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 460°F.
Grease two loaf pans and set aside. Transfer the dough to a floured working surface and divide into two equal parts. Shape into loafes and transfer to pans. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for another hour. Bake at 460°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°C and bake for 40 more minutes.
Note: if it gets too dark, reduce the heat earlier.
Remove from pans and let cool on a rack. Let cool completely before slicing.
Note: Whole spelt flour instead of the whole wheat works also great. If you don’t have steel cut oats, use pearl barley instead.
This bread is my contribution to the next yeastspotting.