Cast Iron

Oat Porridge Bread

December 11, 2013
3 Ratings
Author Notes

For Tartine Book No. 3, I explore ancient and heritage grains as a means to maximize flavor. I fermented, smoked, cooked, and sprouted grains in an attempt to accentuate their inherent flavors while retaining Tartine's signature style loaves. Rolled oats seemed the most straightforward place to begin exploring the idea of porridge-style breads. It was the first one we tried before moving on to seemingly more interesting ideas. But the rich, sweet flavor of the oats, coupled with the exceptionally moist, custardy crumb imparted by the cooked grain, have made this one of our signature breads.

For me, the quintessential loaf of bread has a deep, auburn crust that shatters when torn. But it's all about textures. The contrast of this crackly sheath against a tender, pearlescent crumb is what I’m after. Adding steam to the oven is an essential step to ensure a burnished crust, open scores, and full volume. The moist heat during the first 20 minutes of baking allows for the expansion of the loaves without forming a crust. Home bakers don’t have massive, wood-fired ovens at their disposal and regular ovens are designed to ventilate moisture, not augment it. I’ve found that the Dutch oven technique is a nice estimate, since it becomes a sealed, moist chamber and also has strong radiant heat. —Chad Robertson

  • Prep time 168 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes 2 loaves
  • Starter and Leaven
  • 625 grams white bread flour
  • 625 grams whole wheat bread flour
  • Slightly warm water
  • Oat Porridge Bread
  • 500 grams high-extraction wheat flour
  • 500 grams medium-strong wheat flour
  • 70 grams wheat germ
  • 750 grams water
  • 150 grams leaven
  • 25 grams fine sea salt
  • 500 grams cooked oat porridge, cooled
  • 200 grams almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 50 grams almond oil (optional)
  • Coarsely chopped oat flakes (rolled oats) for coating (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Starter and Leaven
  2. Mix the flours to make 1250 grams of 50/50 flour blend. Use this blend to feed your culture and develop your starter.
  3. To make your starter, in a medium bowl, place 300 grams of slightly warm (80 to 85° F, 26 to 29° C) water. Add 315 grams of flour blend (reserve the remaining flour blend), and mix with your hand or a wooden spoon to combine until the mixture is free of any dry bits. Cover the mixture with a clean, dry kitchen towel or cheesecloth and let stand at warm room temperature until bubbles start to form around the sides and on the surface, about 2 days. It’s important to maintain a warm temperature. Let stand another day to allow fermentation to progress a bit. More bubbles should form. This is your starter. It will smell acidic and slightly funky. At this stage it’s time to train your starter into a leaven by feeding it fresh flour and water at regular intervals.
  4. Feed the starter: Transfer 75 grams of the starter to a clean bowl and discard the remainder of the starter. To the 75 grams of starter, add 150 grams of the 50/50 flour blend and 150 grams warm (80 to 85°F, 26 to 29°C) water. Mix to combine; it should have the consistency of pancake batter. Repeat this feeding process once every 24 hours at the same time of day, always transferring 75 grams of the starter to a clean bowl and discarding the remainder, then adding the flour and water and re-covering the bowl with a clean, dry kitchen towel after each feeding and letting the mixture stand at warm room temperature. The batter should start to rise and fall consistently throughout the day after a few days of feedings. As the starter develops, the smell will change from ripe and sour to sweet and pleasantly fermented, like yogurt. Once this sweet lactic character is established and the fermentation (the regular rise and fall of the batter) is predictable, a few days to one week, it’s time to make the leaven from this mature starter.
  5. Leaven is the portion of prefermented flour and water that will go into your final dough and raise the whole mass during the bulk (first) and final rises. Two days before you want to make bread, feed the matured starter twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening (the process described above) to increase fermentation activity. When you are ready to make the dough, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the matured starter. To the remaining 1 tablespoon, add 200 grams of the 50/50 flour blend and 200 grams warm (80 to 85°F, 26 to 29°C) water. This is your leaven. Cover and let rest at moderate room temperature for 4 to 6 hours.
  6. To test the leaven’s readiness, drop a spoonful into a bowl of room temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready and needs more time to ripen. When it floats on the surface or close to it, it’s ready to use to make the dough.
  7. To maintain the leaven for regular use, continue feeding daily as described above. To save leaven for long periods without use, add enough flour to make a dry paste and keep covered in the refrigerator. When you want to use it again, keep at warm room temperature for at least 2 days and do three to four feedings to refresh and reduce the acid load that builds up while it is stored in the refrigerator.
  1. Oat Porridge Bread
  2. To make the dough/premix, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flours and wheat germ. In a second, large mixing bowl, add 700 grams of water. Add the leaven to the water and stir to disperse. Add the flour mixture to the liquid-leaven mixture and stir to combine until no dry bits remain. Cover and let the premix rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours to hydrate during this rest period, taking care to keep the mixture where it is at warm room temperature. After autolyse (or the rest), add the salt and the remaining 50 grams of slightly warm water, folding the dough on top of itself to incorporate.
  3. For the bulk rise, transfer the dough to a medium bowl and keep covered to maintain a warm dough temperature of 80 to 85° F (26 to 29° C) to accomplish the first rising time, 3 to 4 hours. During the bulk rise, the dough is developed by folding and turning it in the container. Fold the dough every 30 minutes for the first 2 1/2 hours of bulk rising. To do a fold, dip one hand in water, grab the underside of the dough, stretch it out, and fold it back over itself. Rotate the container one-quarter turn and repeat three to four times. When you are folding the dough, note its temperature to the touch and how the dough is becoming aerated and elastic. Fold in the cooked oat porridge, almonds, and almond oil gently by hand after the first two series of turns, about 1 hour into the bulk rise. After 3 hours and six foldings, the dough should feel aerated, billowy, and softer. You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. If not, continue bulk rising for 30 minutes to 1 hour longer.
  4. When the dough is 20 to 30 percent increased in volume, billowy, and elastic, remove it from the container with a dough spatula. We don’t “punch” the dough down tode-gas at Tartine. We strengthen the dough by using gentle folds and turns. As flavor develops during the first rising, it is key to preserve that flavorful gas built up within the dough until the bread is baked. Lightly flour the top surface of the dough and cut into two pieces using the dough spatula. Work each piece gently into a round by drawing the spatula around the side of the dough in a circular motion. Surface tension builds as the dough anchors to the surface while you rotate and work it. Again, take care to work the dough gently to preserve the flavorful gasses that have formed during fermentation. When well shaped, the dough should have a taut, smooth surface.
  5. For the bench rest, lightly flour the tops of the rounds, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest on the work surface for 20 to 30 minutes. Line two medium baskets or bowls with clean, dry kitchen towels and dust generously with a 50/50 mixture of any wheat and rice flours. Starchy rice flour (whether white or brown) is more absorbent than wheat flour and keeps the dough from sticking to the cloth-lined rising basket. Tapioca flour can also be used.
  6. For the final shaping, slip the dough spatula under each piece of dough and flip it, floured-side down. Pull the bottom of the dough up to fold into one-third of the round. Pull each side and fold over the center to elongate the dough vertically. Fold the top down to the center and then fold the bottom up over the top fold-down, leaving the seam underneath. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, seam-side down, so that the seam seals.
  7. For the final rising, transfer the dough to the floured baskets, flipping the dough over so that the seam-side is facing up and centered. Coat the loaf with the cracked oat flakes by rolling the smooth side of the dough in the coating before transferring it to the floured rising baskets, placing the dough coated-side down, seam-side up. Cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel and let rise at warm room temperature for 3 to 5 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  8. Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C), adjust the oven rack to its lowest position, and place a 9 ½-in/24-cm round cast-iron Dutch oven, 11-inch oval cast-iron Dutch oven, or any other heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid into the oven to preheat (with its lid on). Carefully transfer one dough round into the pre-heated Dutch oven, tipping it out of the basket into the pot so it is now seam-side down. Score the top of the dough with a razor blade or cut with scissors. Cover the pot and return to the oven. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450°F (230°C). Bake another 10 minutes, then carefully remove the lid (a cloud of steam will be released). Continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown. When it’s done, turn the baked loaf out onto a wire rack to cool. To bake the second loaf, raise the oven temperature to 500°F (260°C), wipe out the Dutch oven with a dry kitchen towel, and reheat with the lid on for 15 minutes. Repeat the baking procedure as with the first loaf.

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  • Nancy Winfield Poetes
    Nancy Winfield Poetes
  • AntoniaJames
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  • Chad Robertson
    Chad Robertson
  • Benjamin Avila
    Benjamin Avila
A Texas native, Chad Robertson always knew he wanted to devote himself to a profession that involved the craftsmanship of his hands. Robertson enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York but quickly became entranced by the art of bread baking. Robertson's first apprenticeship was at Berkshire Mountain Bakery under the guidance of Richard Bourdon. There, Robertson worked 12 hour shifts where he would pull 3,000 loaves a day. From there, he - and wife, Elisabeth Prueitt - journeyed to France and the French Alps to continue learning the intricacies of working with wood fired ovens and naturally leavened, long fermented breads. Upon their return, they became involved with Dave Miller in Chico, CA where they continued to hone their skills and understanding, this time with a larger focus on whole grains. Soon after, Robertson and Prueitt moved to Pt. Reyes, CA where they built a modest bakeshop called Bay Village Bakery. It was here that Robertson baked for 18 hours straight with the intent to perfect his technique by focusing on "three ingredients and a world of possibility." After five years in the country, the hum of city life beckoned. In 2002, the couple opened Tartine Bakery, which almost instantaneously became a San Francisco institution. In 2005, the couple opened Bar Tartine, a restaurant that continuously redefines itself and draws inspiration from all corners of the globe. In 2006, Robertson and Prueitt published the Tartine Cookbook (Chronicle Books), in 2010 Robertson published Tartine Bread (Chronicle Books), and in fall of 2013 Robertson published his third book, Tartine Book No. 3 (Chronicle Books). He is the recipient, with his wife, of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and has been featured in a variety of premier media outlets, including Bon Appetit, Elle, Vogue, Food Arts, Food & Wine, Saveur, and The New York Times. Chad Robertson is considered one of the leaders in naturally leavened bread baking.