Your tip on toasting the oats… OMG… won’t skip that step again… […] hard to stop eating the resulting bread
– Gordon C, FB message, 22 November 2020, 12:49
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, to go into our roast bird, I make the quintessential dressing, using the recipe that Mum always used: Nana’s dressing recipe (actually, it’s my great grandmother’s recipe – or possibly my great great grandmother’s). Nana’s dressing recipe is of Scottish origin. Unsurprisingly, it contains oatmeal. It is NOT, however, even remotely porridgy.
In exactly the same way, Toasted Oats Bread is not even remotely porridgy. I first made toasted oats bread last November. My friend Gordon C used a recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book to make what he considered to be his “best ever bread“.
It is indeed wonderful bread! Bread made with toasted oats is beautifully lean (but not at all dry) and slightly nutty tasting; it is the perfect antidote to all the recent holiday richness.
But this time round, for the BBBabes, I thought it would be wise to actually pay attention to when to add the toasted oats to the bread dough….
There is no appreciable gluten content in oatmeals, so they are used in breadmaking only in very small proportions, to give flavour and add to the fat content (oatmeal is rich in fat).
– Elizabeth David, Bread Flours and Meals, English Bread and Yeast Cookery, p.67-68
Oats are high in protein, fat (compared to other grains), and fiber and have no gluten. We use cooked or prefermented oats in bread, blended with stronger grains […] [F]ermenting these same porridge grains for a day or two before using resulted in loaves with a depth of flavor I had never tasted […] Rather than replacing a percentage of the flour with these grains, [such as oats,] they are added as you would nuts, dried fruit, or seeds, as a flavouring agent rather than a part of the overall flour blend.
Chad Robertson, Whole Grain Primer | Porridge, Cracked-, and Flaked-Grain breads, Tartine No. 3, p.28, 166-167
[O]at flour has poor baking properties, so we only add for flavor. We toast them in flake form in the oven before we soak them. Toasting gives a wonderfully earthy and full-bodied character to the bread.
– Casper André Ludd and Martin Ivar Hveem Fjeld, Toasted Oats, Artisan Sourdough, p.144
As usual, I found myself wandering through a maze of passages, after seeing Samuel Johnson’s wonderful description of “oats” in his 1755 Dictionary of English Language. I couldn’t stop comparing the meanings of various words from then to now – ha! – “now” being based on the little second-hand dictionary I carried around when I was in university way back in the last century….
BREAD. [...] 1. Food made of ground corn. [...]
CORN. [...] 2. Grain yet unreaped, standing in the field upon its stalk. [...]
FLOWER. [...] 1. The part of a plant which contains the seeds. [...] 4. The edible part of corn; the meal. [...]
GRAIN. [...] 2. Corn. [...] 3. The seed of any fruit.
MEAL. [...] 4. The flower or edible part of corn. [...] 5. The edible part of corn; the meal. [...]
OAT. [...] 1. A grain: rarely used n the singular number [...] See OATS.
OATS. [...] A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.
– Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755
bread n. flour kneaded into dough, made into loaves, and baked; this as staple food.
corn n. grain or seed of cereal plant; (collect.) cereals (esp. wheat) in growth, their seed after threshing [...]
grain n. fruit or corn of cereal; (collect.) wheat or allied foodgrass; corn; [...]
meal n. coarsely ground edible part of grain or pulse. [...]
oat n. (pl.) (grain of) cereal grown as food for man and horses
– The Little Oxford Dictionary of Current English, 4th Edition, 1969
I also had a pocket Webster’s that I kept on the bookshelf, but it is presently in another room; I don’t dare go get it. Who knows how many more passages I would find if I consulted it to see what it says about “bread”, “corn”, “grain”, “meal”, and “oat(s)”? I’d never finish this post!
Here is how things went making this January’s BBB bread:
BBB Toasted Oats Bread diary:
3 December 2020, 10:32 Finally!! The packages for the west coast are ready at last. I wasn’t sure what size of boxes we would have to use so left one of them on the telephone table.
Guess who decided he wants to go travelling…. We’ve discussed it and plan to send him off to my sister P, whose husband has been vying for a cat for eons! The furry black fiend should fit in well at their house. They have an excellent vegetable garden that has a large green bean patch….
9 January 2021, 13:56: Eeek!!! It’s already 9 January! I guess I had better make this month’s bread, hadn’t I? So I’ll post on time….
That’s right. I’m having a panic attack….
I’m steeling myself to divulge out loud that I’m going to make the bread again. T was a little less than complimentary the last time, claiming that the crumb was too “puddingy”….
I’ve pressed the Panic Button over and over, and nothing is happening!
12 January 2021, 12:47: In spite of T’s feelings about the bread, I had great plans to make this bread again in December. But I got distracted by feasting, admiring our Tartine bread, and having fun with pebble bread again. Today, I realized that it is now or never. I toasted the rolled oats about an hour ago. They’re resting in the oven with only the light on now. I’ll pour boiling water over them tonight when I put together the leavener to make toasted oats bread tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll be smart enough to add the rolled oats after the second stretch and fold….
13 January 2021, 10:12: This morning, the leavener floated (yay!) and I mixed the dough, but have not yet added the salt. I did feel the need to add a little more water – with the furnace running so much, it’s quite dry in the house. I’m happy to report that I remembered NOT to add the toasted rolled oats. They are still in the oven with only the light on, waiting for the second stretch and fold.
As I was weighing the wheat germ, I remembered that Chad Robertson calls for WAY more wheat germ than I have been using. Suddenly, I found myself adding 10 instead of 5 grams. (This is still considerably less than Chad Robertson would add; he would be putting in 35 grams wheat germ to this loaf!)
13:57 And we’re back into lockdown again. Fiddle-dee-dee. I’m just going to pretend that it really doesn’t affect us at all. In spite of the strict “stay at home” order, we can still go to the grocery store and pharmacy, as well as do curbside pickup for petfood and hardware items. And. As long as the weather holds, we can ride our bikes. So. Let’s continue to ignore the giant elephant in the room. (more information CBC Toronto: Here’s what you need to know about Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions and Ontario.ca | COVID-19: provincewide shutdown)
I just added the soaked-overnight rolled oats. Wow. I cannot believe how NOT-sloppy the dough is. In fact, I’m wondering if I should dribble in a bit more water!
16:32 Pre-shaped…. Yay, there are bubbles!!! (I didn’t add more water. The dough seems a bit stiff, but it should be okay. Shouldn’t it?)
17:22 Shaped…. I decided to add some quick oats to the outside by rubbing the top of the bread with wet hands, scattering quick oats all over top and then putting the shaped bread into our rice-floured banneton. I hope it doesn’t do anything bad to the banneton!!
I’m also very pleased with myself for remembering to put the sifted out bran onto the bottom of the loaf.
18:08 Oh of course!! With masses and masses of time on my hands, I just learned that I am required at a Zoom meeting from 19:00-20:00 – at exactly the time the bread will be baking. How convenient….
18:45 The bread is now in the oven. Which goes against T’s grain (no pun intended) – he thinks it hadn’t risen enough. As usual, I cajoled him into turning the loaf out of the banneton into the hot frying pan (I’m terrified of missing the center of pan and dropping the bread on the edge). The words I did not want to hear were uttered, “Whoa! That’s really heavy!” Fingers crossed that there is a.) massive oven spring and b.) I won’t be the only one eating this bread.
Casper André Ludd suggests using scissors to score the bread, but I used our straight lame. It was no problem at all.
20:10 Well. I think the bread looks gorgeous. Apparently it’s heavy and dense, and destined to be puddingy in two days. Sigh.
Apparently, Oat Porridge bread is one of Tartine Bakery’s signature breads. But, one of the reasons I didn’t want to follow Chad Robertson’s method is that he writes that the bread has an “exceptionally moist, custardy crumb imparted by the cooked grain”.
When they emerge from the oven, the superhydrated porridge breads are barely set, so much so that I generally let the bread carefully cool overnight before cutting into it. The trade-off for patience is shelf life: A loaf of porridge bread will easily keep a week before it stales. The first time I made these breads, they seemed an ultimate expression of whole-grain baking. They retain the delicate, nuanced flavors of the ancient grains but in a loaf of bread that has a tender crumb and substantial crust.
– Chad Robertson, Porridge bread, Tartine Book No. 3
Fingers crossed that after the bread has completely cooled overnight, things will feel different in the hopefully not cold light of day.
In the light of the following morning: Well. The good news is that T agreed that the flavour of the bread is fine, and that if we slice the bread thinly, it will make good toast.
And I like the bread – toasted or not….
Here is the BBB recipe for January; please don’t let T’s reaction to it put you off….
Toasted Oats Bread
- 60 grams ‘no additives’ 100% whole wheat flour
- 60 grams water
- dessert spoon of starter from the fridge (about 30 grams)
- 100 grams rolled oats, toasted
- 100 grams boiling water
- 100 grams 100% whole wheat ‘no additives’ flour
- 400 grams unbleached ‘no additives’ all-purpose flour
- 10 grams wheat germ (this was originally “5 grams” in the recipe given to the BBBabes)
- 5 grams malted wheat chops
- 325 grams water
- all of the leavener from above, when a small forkful floats in a glass of cool water
- 10 grams salt + 25 grams water
- all of the rolled oats mixture from above
- quick oats
- Leavener: In the evening of the day before making the bread: Put the starter, flour and water into a smallish bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is stirred in well. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside overnight in the oven with only the light turned on. Unless it is ridiculously hot in the kitchen. In that case, leave the oven light turned off.
- Prepare the Oats: Pour rolled oats into a dry cast iron frying pan and place it over medium high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time. It takes about about 7 minutes to toast the oats. (They smell wonderful!) Transfer the toasted oats into a medium-sized bowl and pour boiling water over top. Cover with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with the leavener.
- Mix the dough In the morning of the day you will be making the bread: When a small forkful of the leavener floats in a small bowl of room temperature water, you can go ahead and mix the dough: Sift the whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl, reserving the bran for after shaping. Add all-purpose flour, wheat germ, malted wheat chops, and 325 grams water (body temperature if the kitchen is cold) to the sifted whole wheat flour. Stir with a wooden spoon. Set aside for a moment.
- Weigh the salt and 25 grams water , whisking it together in a small bowl. Set this bowl aside in the oven with only the light turned on.
- Add the leavener to the large bowl. Use a dough whisk or wooden spoon to mix these ingredients together to make a rough dough. If it seems really dry, add a little more water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 30 minutes.
- Adding the salt: Pour the salt mixture over the dough.
- Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt and water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than a horrible separated glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
- Adding the oats and first stretching and folding: Add the oats overtop. Turn the bowl as you fold and re-fold the dough into the center, to distribute the oats. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter (or if the kitchen is cool like ours in winter and spring, into the oven with only the light turned on). (Confession: This time round I added the oats on the second stretch and fold.)
- Continuing to stretch and fold: Repeat the folding step about 3 times in all at 30 minute intervals. After the final time of folding, leave the covered bowl in a draft free area until the dough has almost doubled.
- Pre-shaping: Scatter a dusting of all-purpose flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Fold the dough over in half, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Turn the dough a quarter turn and fold in half again. Continue turning and folding in half until the dough is shaped in a ball. Leave it seam side down on the board and cover with a large overturned mixing bowl (or a tea towel) and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- Prepare the brotform: Liberally coat the insides of a brot-form with rice flour.
- Shaping and adding optional topping: Scatter a very light dusting of flour on top of the round. Gently press down with the palms of your hands to create a disc that is about 4 centimeters deep. Carefully turn the disc over. Without breaking the skin on the bottom, use the dough scraper to fold the dough in half. Turn the dough a quarter turn and continue folding until a ball is created. Leave it seam side down and use the sides of the dough scraper to tighten the dough ball further. Once it has been tightened, wet your hands and rub them gently over the top. Scatter quick oats overtop. Now carefully put the shaped loaf seam-side UP into the brotform. Scatter the reserved bran evenly onto the seam area. Cover with the tea towel or an overturned mixing bowl and let sit for an hour or so to allow the loaf to almost double. “Almost” is the key here….
- Preheating the oven: To know when it’s time to bake, run your index finger under water and gently but firmly press it on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover the bread and leave it on the counter for another 15 minutes of so. If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, leave the bread on the counter. Put a baking stone on a lower shelf of the oven. Place a cast-iron combo cooker (or lidded casserole dish) on the middle shelf and preheat the oven to hot (we set ours to 450F).
- Scoring: When the oven is thoroughly preheated about fifteen minutes later, transfer the round into the hot shallow pan of the combo-cooker. Using a lame, sharp knife, or scissors, score the bread in the pattern you like. (Ludd and Fjeld score their toasted oats bread in a box-like pattern on top.)
- Baking: Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and, without stopping to stare in amazement at the amazing oven spring, close the oven door to continue baking for another 30 minutes, until the crust is a lovely dark golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom.
- Cooling: When the bread has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating; the bread is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.
Measuring units: It’s significantly easier to measure ingredients by weight – less clean up and less frantic rummaging through drawers and cupboards in search of cups and spoons. A digital scale is ideal, but a spring scale also works. If you do not have a scale, please look at this excellent online resource from Gourmet Sleuth: Cooking Conversions Calculator
Wheat germ: Since giving the recipe to the BBBabes, I finally got a chance to read Chad Robertson’s book, Tartine Book No. 3. I found it really interesting just how much wheat germ he suggests adding. In his recipe for oat porridge bread, he calls for adding 7% (Bakers Percentage) wheat germ. That would amount to 35 grams with the above recipe. This time round, I simply upped the amount from 5 grams to 10 grams – yes, 2% (Bakers Percentage) is still considerably less that Chad Robertson would use, but significantly more than Casper André Lugg, who suggests adding zero grams wheat germ.
Most of the recipes [in this book], including our country dough that we first made in Point Reyes Station, also call for adding raw wheat germ, which adds flavor and nutrition.
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Book No. 3 | About the breads in this book
When millers mill wheat, they scrupulously sheer off the most nutritious parts of the seed—the coat of bran and the embryo, or germ, that it protects—and sell that off, retaining the least nourishing part to feed us. In effect, they’re throwing away the best 25 percent of the seed […] Whole-grain flour tends to go “off” within several weeks of being milled, releasing an unmistakable odor of rancidity. Part of what makes the germ so nutritious—its unsaturated omega-3 fats—also makes it unstable, and prone to oxidation.
[I]t is always removed at the beginning of the milling process, even when making “whole” wheat flour. […] Most commercial whole-wheat flour is actually white flour to which the bran and germ have been added back in. […] [An experience miller, Joe] Vanderliet claims that many large mills, including ones he used to work for, simply leave the germ out of their “whole-grain” flour “because it’s just too much trouble”—a serious charge, but a difficult one to prove.
– Michael Pollan, Thinking like a Seed, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, p.576,577,602,603
Malted Wheat Chops: Some time ago, because it’s pretty much impossible to find diastatic malt at any stores, we decided to go to a brewer’s supply store close to us. Bingo!! They had malted wheat, rye, and barley berries. The proprietor crushed the grains for us (I put each bag in the freezer). Alas, I have used up all the rye chops – otherwise that is what I would have added to this bread, but we still have wheat and barley in the freezer. (Frankly, I don’t even know if “chops” is the right term for these crushed berries. I hope it is!!)
Because we’re in lockdown here (not to mention that the brewing supply shop close to us shut their doors and moved far away about 2 years ago), it’s impossible to just hop onto our bikes to replace the malted rye chops, and/or other malted grains. So I just looked online. One Ontario brewing supply site labels them as “malted grains”. Another has them on their site in the category “Grain | Base Malts”. Yet another has a page of various “malted brewing grains” offering them “crushed” or “whole”. No doubt, any reputable brewing supply will have them for sale.
Diastatic malt powder is used in baking to help convert some of the starches in flour into sugars that the bread yeast can eat.
– Chad, Homebrew Talk | Diastatic Malt Powder
Diastatic malt powder or barley malt extracts are often used in professional bakeries to add nutrition, improve crumb texture and appearance, and enhance the keeping quality of the finished loaves. Breads that require second rises (pumpernickel, rye and other hearth breads) can benefit from a dose.
– Lucy Saunders, BeerCook.com, Baking with Beer | Malt is a miracle for bakers
Among brands of flour with added malt, you may notice that they come in two different types: diastatic and non-diastatic malt powder. The difference between these two is in the end stage of the malting process […] [when] the grain is dried to stop the malting process. This can be done in two ways, either by drying or kilning. Drying off the grain allows it to preserve some enzymatic activity in the grain. This produces diastatic malt. On the other hand, kilning removes all of the enzymes due to its high heat levels. This produces non-diastatic malt.
[D]iastatic malt is what we need for bread making, because this variety changes the whole structure of our loaf. Diastatic malt gives it an improved rise, texture, and a more ‘authentic-looking’ crust. Non-diastatic malt is still used in baking, but it’s usually added for the sake of aesthetic, providing color and aroma to the bread.
– MakeBreadAtHome.com, Complete Guide to Baking With Malt | Non-Diastatic vs Diastatic Malt Powder
Sifting: Over the past few months, I have discovered the wonders of sifting the flour – not just whole wheat flour to extract a lot of the bran (to be added later), but the all-purpose flour too. Of course it might be my imagination that our bread is loftier and more pleasing. However, the sifting step is an easy one to do, so why not continue with it?
Salt: There’s a very good reason to weigh the salt, rather than use volume measures.
According to Jennifer L Duque (RevelKitchen), one teaspoon of table salt weighs 6 grams, but depending on the brand, one teaspoon of Kosher Salt weighs 3, 3.5 or 4 grams. One teaspoon of salt flakes weighs 2.5 grams.
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | Salt is salt, right?
Salt has such a profound impact on heightening the flavor of food and does so in droves before ever tasting too salty. It is the most basic and most humbling seasoning — it enhances rather than adds additional flavors to foods, but its misapplication can easily bite any of us, from the most novice cook to world-renowned Top Chef Masters competitors. Salt can take the form of tiny grains, hefty crumbs, thin crystalline flakes, and many other shapes and densities. […] After using the same salt for a while, we acquire a sense for how salty these rudimentary measures will make food taste and can go along our merry way without fussing with measuring spoons. Switch up the salt, however, and you can get vastly different results.
– Jennifer L Duque, Revel Kitchen | How “salt” can be the kiss of life (or death) in cooking
For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?
Leavener: Our starter (aka culture) for making the leavener is a 100% hydration, liquid levain made and maintained with 100% whole wheat flour. In July 2017, it took 5 days to create. It is still going strong. (For more information, please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.)
Oven Temperature: Our new to us oven runs a little less hot but slightly more evenly than our old one (we would have baked this bread at 400F in the old oven, and may even have turned the temperature down to 375F for the last half hour). I suspect that every home oven is notoriously inaccurate. Andrew Whitley concurs:
Most domestic ovens, whether gas, electric, fan assisted or solid fuel, will bake bread quite adequately. But, not surprisingly, some are better than others. […] [T]he temperature in the oven may have to fall by as much as 30°C before the thermostat calls for renewed heat, so the item being baked is subjected to a constantly oscillating temperature. […] The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precipe temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven. […] [I]f you understand roughly what heat a loaf requires (e.g. pretty hot for a big, wet, rye sourdough, moderate for an enriched sweet bread), you won’t go far wrong
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control
Bread Baking Babes I can’t believe it. You made it this far! Well done!
Just in case it isn’t clear yet, I am hosting January 2021’s Bread Baking Babes’ project.
And we know that you’ll want to make toasted oats bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site, post about your toasted oats adventure in the next couple of weeks (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 January 2021.
Here’s how to let us know:
- email me
» Remember to include your name and a link to your post
» Please type “BBB January 2021 bread” in the subject heading
Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included.
If you don’t have a blog or flickr-like account, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details, so your toasted oats bread can be included in the roundup too.
For complete details about this month’s project, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:
- BBB Kitchen of the month: Me, blog from OUR kitchen | January 2021
- BBBuddy guidelines
- about the BBBabes
Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ January 2021 Toasted Oats Adventures.
- Aparna, My Diverse Kitchen
- Cathy, Bread Experience: Sourdough Einkorn Toasted Oats Bread
- Judy, Judy’s Gross Eats: January Babes: Toasted Oats Bread
- Karen, Karen’s Kitchen Stories: Toasted Oats Bread
- Katie (BBBBB), Thyme for Cooking:Bread Baking Babes sow some oats
- Kelly, A Messy Kitchen: Toasted Oats Bread #BBB
- Pat (aka Elle), Feeding My Enthusiasms: Toasted Oat Bread with the Babes
- Tanna, My Kitchen in Half Cups: Toasted Oats Bread ~ BBB
edit 31 January 2021: There were BBBuddies in January!! Take a look at their beautiful Toasted Oats Breads: Toasting in the New Year (BBBuddies January 2021)
» Toasted Oats Bread (first time, November 2020)
» Sifting: the key to lofty whole wheat bread (Bookmarked)
» adding wheat germ to bread dough IS a good idea
» Multigrain Bread (BBD#09)
» cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread (YS, Bookmarked)
» you win some; you lose some (YS)
» Oatmeal Twists are Great for Dinner Too! (BBB June 2012)
» Eeeeek! …porridge bread (BBB November 2016)
» Still Wildly Baking… Tartine Bread, revisited (Sourdough September 2019)
» And we have a new pet… (Jane Mason starter, July 2017)