This Sourdough Oatmeal Bread represents the convergence of two personas; project manager and bread baker, and came to fruition due to a simple, yet profound request from my youngest son.
A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a workshop on the power of persuasion and influence as part of some training we’re doing at work.
As I was reading about one of the approaches, my first thought was that it was a manipulative method. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that. I filed the information away and decided to let it ruminate before I dismissed it.
That same week, my youngest son texted me and presented a very compelling case for me to make Oatmeal Bread for one of his friend’s birthdays.
It wouldn’t have taken too much effort to get me to make some bread, but the way he presented it made me laugh. It was a case study for the approach I had been introduced to in the training. I realized that this approach was not manipulative at all. He offered me an opportunity that I gladly accepted.
His request was actually perfect timing. Not only was this an opportunity for me to make bread; it was an opportunity for me to perfect a bread I had been working on for weeks.
I had been experimenting with a whole grain sourdough oatmeal loaf using different types of grains and the results had been mixed. So far, I hadn’t achieved the outcome I was aiming for. I had determined it was time to step back and punt. In this particular case, that meant starting over with all white flour and adjusting the variables from there.
When my son requested Oatmeal Bread, in his mind, he was referring to the family’s favorite bread machine oatmeal bread made with all white flour. Hello! I decided to grant his request, but instead of making a yeast bread in the bread machine, I converted our favorite oatmeal bread recipe to sourdough and made it by hand.
- 120 grams / ~1/3 cup active sourdough starter, recently fed
- 300 grams / 1¼ cups water
- 60 grams / 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 T Milk, scalded then cooled, plus additional for brushing if desired
- 28 grams / 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 cups / 480 grams all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
- 75 grams / ⅔ cup rolled oats, plus more for sprinkling on top, if desired
- 10 grams / 1¼ tsp sea salt
- Place the sourdough starter in a medium bowl.
- Weigh/measure the wet ingredients (water, honey, milk, melted butter), and mix together.
- Add the wet ingredients to the starter and stir with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk to break up the starter.
- In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt) and stir with a whisk to incorporate.
- Pour the liquid ingredients onto the dry ingredients and incorporate fully until there are no dry bits of flour.
- Knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes. Scrape down the bowl using a spatula or bowl scraper.
- Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Perform a stretch and fold in the bowl or on the counter; then place the dough back in bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough bulk ferment (proof) for 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Perform a stretch and fold after the 1st hour, then let the dough rest for the remainder of the bulk ferment.
- Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and allow the dough to warm up to room temperature for 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
- Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it proof for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size. Test for readiness by pressing lightly on the dough with your index finger. If it leaves a light indention, the loaves are ready to bake. If the dough springs back completely, let it proof a while longer and perform the test again.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Brush the top of the loaf with water or milk using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with oats if desired and score it down the middle to allow for even oven spring.
- Place the loaf in the preheated oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Check the loaf after 30 minutes or so and tent with foil if the top starts to brown too quickly.
You just never know what lessons life and bread can teach you. This was a bread just waiting to be created.
I’m still working on the whole grain version, but this white all-purpose flour version provides the starting point from which future loaves can be perfected.
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