The Wood-Fired Blog

Some Over-Hydrated (But Good Tasting) Whole Wheat Oat Bread

I took a second attempt at the “shoot from the hip” whole wheat oatmeal loaves, and learned a couple of useful lessons—or more accurately, I re-enforced a couple of lessons that I should already know. For example, in order to make my baking as accurate as I would like it to be, I need to be consistent in weighing my ingredients, and I need to learn how to manage some new ingredients.

So while my previous Whole Wheat Oat loaf was a big success, today’s bread was seriously over hydrated, and because of the way I made it, and I can’t really tell what the hydration level was. Why? Because I mixed grams and cups (again). I guess it’s time to do the math before I do this recipe again. Here’s the formula:

350 grams/70% whole wheat
150 grams/30% white whole wheat
10 grams/2% salt
5 grams/1% yeast
20 grams/4% olive oil
25 grams/5% molasses
300 grams/60% water
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup of boiling water

I mixed all of the flour and bread ingredients, and then separately mixed the oats and boiling water. After the oats cooled, I add them to the dough and kneaded it on KitchenAid 3 for 8 minutes. The result was a dough puddle that did not hold its shape as a dough ball. I folded it 6 times to try to give it a little structure and decided to just go ahead without adjusting the flour. What the heck.

After a one hour proof, I shaped two boules and put them in baskets to proofs — adding extra flour so they would not stick. Well, they still stuck. And they were so wet that I couldn’t even score the loaves; and I ended up using scissors.

Then, to add insult in injury, I baked the loaves on a baking sheet (forget using my pizza oven, I didn’t even use my pizza stone) in my convection oven. hahahaha.

It was interesting. The combination of the oats, the extremely moist dough and the bad baking environment created a couple of boules with a soft, almost tender crust. Almost like a quick bread—such as banana bread. Or ciabatta meets miche to create an unusual offspring.

But for what the bread lacked in good looks and crust, it somewhat made up those shortcomings with its good flavor and moist crumb. For a 100% whole wheat loaf, it was light and air, the crumb structure was good, and it was easy to enjoy. It makes great toast and in interesting bruschetta.

I’m not saying I would do it again; and I am committed to learning how to bake with oats using baker’s percentages—but it was a worthy experiment.




Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

600 grams whole wheat
200 white whole wheat
200 AP flour
600 grams (60)% water
10 grams (1%) yeast
20 grams (2%) salt
40 grams olive oil
30 grams honey
2 cup old fashion oats (3-5 minute cooking)
2 cup boiling water
Pinch of salt

Please forgive my slightly funky recipe format, where I mix baker’s percentages and grams with cups—but the bread came out really well, so I will be going back and putting some structure into the recipe. For example, it will be interesting seeing how the percentages come out and what the actual dough hydration is.

Interestingly, I am not even sure how you are suppose to calculate oats as part of a baker’s percentage formula. Seeds (which do not absorb water), are not counted as part of the flour, which makes a lot of sense. But what about whole grains?

To make the bread, I added 2 cups of boiling waters and a pinch of salt to the oats and let it soak until the mixture had cooled to room temperature. Then I mixed all of the bread ingredients and added the oatmeal, and mixed it on medium speed (KitchenAid 3) for 10 minutes.

Following my improved fermentation techniques, I did a bulk fermentation, punched down the dough, and then did three or four folds and shaped a boule and let the dough rise a second time. Then I divided the dough, did a boule fold, shaped my loaves and put them into a linen lined whicker basket and a baneton.

Because the oatmeal was still warm (though not hot) when I added it to the bread, the yeast was very active and the dough expanded very aggressively. To bring it under control, I did the final proofing for the boules in the refrigerator. The oven spring was huge, and despite some pretty good scoring, the loaves exploded a little on the side.

The flavor, the texture of the crumb, the lightness of the loaves, and the moisture were all really good. All of that in a formula that is 80% whole whole wheat.

One last note. I am feeling a lot better about my oven management of the Presto oven—this is my second one, and I have just finished a complete curing (or dry out) cycle. I fired the oven for about an hour with three pieces of wood, and then let it cool down into bread baking temperatures for an hour and 45 minutes. I have also started using a garden sprayer to create steam in the oven. By opening the oven door just enough for the sprayer wand, you can create a lot of steam without a lot of effort. The oven was just right, and the top of the bread, the bottom of the bread and crumb were all ready at the same time.

Today I baked the two large boules and two baguettes, all in a single bread loading in my Presto oven. Who says you can’t bake a lot of bread in a small pizza oven. :-) It was great.