It seems almost impossible to find a true sourdough oatmeal bread recipe. I spent hours searching on the internet, in the library, and poring over the not insubstantial number of bread books on my home shelf, all with no success. Apparently oatmeal bread recipes are either written for straight dough (those that use dried yeast) or a combination of both sourdough starter and dried yeast. So, out of frustration I created my own recipe for oatmeal bread leavened only with a tangy sourdoughs starter. Luckily it was a great success!
This bread was so good that I made two extra-large loaves in the same week. I'd like to say that the whole family was visiting but that would be a lie. My husband and I ate both loaves ourselves. It really is that good. However, I can't tell you how long this bread lasts before getting moldy or dry because it didn't last that long in my house. I bet it won't in your house either.
Sourdough bread begins with a well fed sourdough starter. Sourdough starter is basically a combination of water, flour, and some sort of yeast. Unlike packaged yeast that seems to spring to life when combined with the other bread ingredients, starter is already active and bubbling when added to the recipe.
The starter, just like dried yeast in traditional dough, helps the bread rise. The actively fermenting sourdough starter also gives the dough a tangy flavor and a longer shelf life than other homemade breads.
There are many ways to make a sourdough starter. I use the method found on my website Make Your Own Sourdough Starter. Over the years MOTHER EARTH NEWS has published several articles about making your own sourdough starter, including Creating Homemade Sourdough Bread From a Starter Mix, and a previous blog post, A Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough. No matter which method is used, your starter will eventually be populated with the local wild yeasts found in your particular geographical area. You may start with a dried starter purchased on your San Francisco vacation, but after a few weeks that starter will be less San Francisco sourdough and more Peoria sourdough or Austin sourdough. That isn’t a bad thing. San Francisco may be famous for their sourdough breads, but I guarantee that your bread will be delicious too.
Start by mixing the following ingredients in a large bowl or your stand mixer bowl.
2 cups sourdough starter
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (either old-fashioned or quick)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp honey
1 - 1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
1. Combine until a soft, loose dough forms. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.
2. Knead dough 5 - 10 minutes or until dough is smooth. The dough will still be quite wet. That's ok if you are using a stand mixer. If you are kneading by hand you may need to add a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Just add as little as possible so the dough stays soft and loose.
3. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. Sourdough mixtures don’t rise as high as traditional straight dough breads. The mixture will be a bit puffy, but you probably won’t see a doubling of the dough.
Shape dough into 2 loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise for an additional 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
4. If you are using a regular 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, bake the bread at 375º degrees for 50 - 55 minutes or until the interior reaches 200 degrees. (I use my trusty digital thermometer for this.) If you are using a single unglazed terra cotta pan (like I do, shown above) follow the manufacturer’s directions. For example, I soak my pan in water for 15 minutes and then place the bread in a cold oven, set the temperature to 475º degrees and bake for about 50 minutes.
5. When done, remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting. This resting period is important to let the crumb set and leads you slice the bread evenly.
As I noted above, this recipe is the "best ever." I have made hundreds of sourdough breads and this is by far my favorite. It's a great compilation of whole grains (oatmeal), light but well-textured bread, and the extra tangy flavor of sourdough.
What about you? What is your favorite sourdough bread? Let me know in the comments section below.
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