Eeeeek! …porridge bread (BBB November 2016)

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BBB November 2016 summary: recipe for Porridge Bread, based on a recipe in “The Village Baker” by Joe Ortiz; reading difficulties – again (still??); in spite of me, we have delicious bread once again; a Bread Baking Babes project;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) November 2016: Porridge Bread

Rye Porridge, eh?

When I was growing up, we often had porridge for breakfast – oatmeal porridge, that is. We would sprinkle brown sugar on top and pour milk over the hot cereal. Sometimes there were dates cooked into the porridge. I loved spooning into a steaming bowl of Mum’s porridge each morning before bundling myself into leggings, parka, scarves, mittens, hat and heading off to kindergarten.

So, when our family was moving from Winnipeg to Edmonton, and took the train to get there, (that’s right, people used to choose to travel by train!) I asked if I could have porridge for breakfast in the dining car. Imagine my surprise, when the steaming bowl was filled with a shuddering mass of smooth, smooth, smooth cream of wheat. Being five, my response to the travesty was to tearfully blubber out, “Do I have to eat that??”

I will remain forever grateful to my dad for asking the porter to bring some toast for me and heroically eating the offending bowl of {brrrrr} cream of wheat.

porridge bread (BBB) So. When Kelly (A Messy Kitchen) said we would be making porridge bread this month, at first, I cheered. And then I saw that

it. wasn’t. oatmeal. porridge.

It was to be made from rolled rye or barley!


It was so tempting to pretend I didn’t notice that part. Especially when I saw that it was described as “mush”:

Whenever you see a French recipe that begins with the instructions “Faire une boiullie…” you know you have come across a very old recipe because it starts off with a mush made by pouring boiling water over flour. The mush, which will ferment slightly overnight, is used the next day mixed into a bread.
-Joe Ortiz, Porridge Bread (Pain Bouillie), The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America

But I am obedient. And Kelly did say that her girls loved the bread. So I headed out to the health food store in search of rolled rye or barley….

Here’s how porridge bread making went:

BBB Porridge bread diary:

1 October 2016, 19:57 What a great choice Kelly has made! Even though I was confused at first by the porridge made from rye. Of course, I should know that porridge doesn’t have to be oatmeal!

I’m sure our healthfood store will have this….

29 October 2016, 17:42 Yesterday when we quickly rode over to the Noble Hop, where we get our malted rye, that it is permanently closed. Waaahhhhhhhh! But. Isn’t the internet wonderful? We discovered that there is another home brew store near Indiatown. So we hopped on our bikes, rode to Indiatown to stock up on moong dahl, black pepper, mustard seeds, etc. etc. and then stopped at Brew North to buy a pound each of malted wheat berries, malted rye berries, and malted barley. The very friendly proprietor coarsely ground each of the bags for us, assuring us that while he only sold non-diastatic malt powder, the malted barley would definitely have diastatic properties. Works for me….

7 November 2016, 09:11 Ah, isn’t house maintenance fun? There are some guys working outside to repair the bay window in the room I’m in. Wheeeee!

Eeeek! I just heard one of them say, “I just hope the glass doesn’t break. These have been on here since the house was built. Mother-… I’m having a f… oh yah” …

I’ve got to get out of here!

I ended up adding a total of 420 g bread flour (and I didn’t even use spelt). I took out Joe’s book to check if I wrote anything next to the recipe from the last time I baked it (10 years back)… and yes I also ended up adding 420 g bread flour then.
Lien, message to BBBabes

7 November 2016, 16:40 I wonder what malted rye porridge would be like and if it would ruin the bread….

Using Gourmet Sleuth and the Bob’s Red Mill package (they handily have an image of the package online, I’ve calculated the weights and added them in square brackets. (Yes, I know. I’m a freak.)

8 November 2016, 09:56 I decided that using that much malted rye would be foolish and went in search of unmalted rye berries and/or cracked rye. Our health food store has rye flour, whole rye grain, and rye flakes. So I got a little bag of whole grain and plan to crack it in our ex-coffee-now-spice grinder (I hope that will work…).

I’m looking at a picture of Bob’s Red Mill cracked rye to see how big the lumps should be. Wish me luck!

14 November 2016 00:34 I just made the porridge. Yikes! It’s even scarier looking than cream of wheat! Hmmm, is it because I used dark rye flour instead of light rye?

When I was getting the ingredients together, after hearing about Lien’s gram measurements of a cup of cracked rye and not really trusting the Bob’s Red Mill online package photo, I weighed a cup of whole rye berries and arrived at 168gm. …interesting that Bob’s Red Mill is so much less per cup. Maybe cups are smaller at Bob’s Red Mill. :lalala:

I used our little electric coffee/cardamom grinder to crack the berries as best I could, re-measured a cup of the cracked berries and came up with 155gm (!!) Then I decided to throw caution to the wind and add 13gm malted cracked rye. Because I’m a bad BBBabe.

09:30 I could not find the caraway seeds! For about 5 minutes (it was probably only 1 minute but seemed like 5) I ransacked the drawer where I knew they were and, after not finding them, grousing and spitting, declared that our bread would not have any caraway seeds and I couldn’t believe that either of us would use up the caraway seeds and not put them onto the grocery list. As I stomped around as I got ready to go to work, T went and looked in the drawer. Guess where he found them. Right on top!! In full view. {sigh}

My only excuse is that I thought they were in a different style of package so didn’t even bother reading the envelope with “caraway seeds” prominently displayed in large dark lettering. {deep sigh}

I quickly stirred the caraway seeds in.

12:37 I pushed down the dough – correction: sloppy mess – that was just starting to rise. Remembering that Kelly and Lien had added more flour, I threw in 100gm more all-purpose flour. Aha. This was a good move. I also added the raisins putting in 2 Tbsp instead of 1 because it didn’t look like enough.

Crush the caraway seeds with a mortar and pestle until fragrant and broken. Add the raisins and grind into a paste. Stir the last 1 tbsp water into the caraway/raisin paste. Add 2 tsp of the resulting caraway flavoring into the porridge.
BBB Porridge Bread recipe

So THAT’S why there were so few raisins! And. Who knew we were supposed to crush the caraway seeds? Ooops!

Can I read yet???

14:02 The dough is still a little alarmingly grey-coloured but at least it looks like dough and not porridge. Because I was headed out for a couple of hours, I pushed it down and left it on the counter rather than in the oven with only the light turned on.

17:08 We were both in the kitchen looking at the dough and I thought it looked ready to shape. But there was doubt. So I did the finger test. I love that finger test!

I run my fingers under water and then poke a hole in the top of the dough.

If the hole fills up, it hasn’t risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.
-me, Bread Making Notes, 2001-2008

And, for once, I was able to demonstrate to myself and the resident expert that I had managed to retain at least a little something from all the bread baking (errrm… failures because of over-rising…) I’ve done over the years!

So I shaped the dough. I made two oval loaves, leaving them free form and keeping them separate. I had a vague memory of seeing something about oiling somewhere on the loaf before letting it rise but decided I must have been wrong because that would get the clean tea towel used to cover the shaped loaves all messy. (I did mention that I have a reading disability, didn’t I?)

When the dough has doubled, cut into two pieces. Shape into flat loaves that are 5″ square and 2″ high by flattening and then folding the edges toward the middle and sealing the edges with the heel of the hand. Grease a 9×5½” bread pan and oil one side of each loaf. Place them together in the pan with the oiled sides touching.
– BBB Porridge Bread recipe

19:16 We were in the kitchen preparing dinner together and checked the bread to see if it was ready to bake. T decreed that it wasn’t. So I did the second finger test:

To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge of the dough – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
-me, Bread Making Notes, 2001-2008

And sure enough, it was time to turn the oven on. How perfect! Just before taking our plates to the table, we put the loaves in the oven.

As an experiment, I slashed one loaf and left the other intact. We remembered to spray them liberally with water before putting them in the oven, set the timer for 30 minutes and off we went to have dinner.

20:32 After 30 minutes baking, they looked done. I could possibly have baked it longer but it seemed done when I knocked on the bottoms. I tried to get the thermometer in but the bottom of the loaf was pretty thick and hard.

They’re gorgeous and smell fabulous. Both loaves are quite light feeling, especially considering that they have so much whole rye int them. And oh oh oh, how thrilling!! The slashed loaf looks particularly wonderful.

Note to self: do more studying about slashing. Try to retain the words.

I wanted a deep auburn crust to shatter between the teeth, giving way to tender, pearlescent crumb. I wanted my baker’s signature, the score made with a blade on top, to rise and fissure, and the crust to set with dangerous edges. […] The angle, quantity, and pattern of the scores, all affect how the loaf expands in the oven and determine the final appearance of the loaf.
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p. 28, 67
Scoring the surface of tte dough will guide its natural tendency to expand.
– Zachary Golper, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, p. 290
[S]lashing the loaf’s skin will release some of its surface tension and by doing so facilitate a great spring.
– Michael Pollan, Cooked, p. 502

porridge breadporridge bread (BBB)

The next morning, we raced down to the kitchen to taste the now completely cooled bread. These rye porridge loaves are not nearly as dense as I thought they would be!

The flavour is equally fabulous.

We decided to have Reuben sandwiches for lunch. Whoohoooo!

Reubenesque Sandwich

Many thanks for a great choice, Kelly!

Here is the BBB November 2016 Porridge Bread recipe we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Rye Porridge Bread
based on the recipe for Pain Bouillie (Porridge Bread) in “The Village Baker” by Joe Ortiz

makes 2 loaves


  • 420gm (420 ml) boiling water
  • 15gm (~2 tsp) honey
  • 102gm (1 cup) dark rye flour (the BBB recipe calls for light rye flour)
  • 168gm (1 cup) whole rye grain
       » 155gm plain rye berries, cracked
       » 13gm malted rye berries, cracked ¹


  • All of the bouillie from the previous step
  • 45gm (3 tbsp) water, at body temperature
  • 3 gm (1 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 250gm + 100gm (2 cups + generous 3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided ²
  • 12gm kosher salt, (2 tsp fine salt)
  • 4gm (2 tsp) caraway seeds ³
  • 20gm (2 Tbsp) raisins ³
  1. make porridge: On the evening before the day you plan to bake the bread, pour boiling water into a largish mixing bowl. Whisk in the honey and add the rye flour and rye berries. Stir well to make sure that there are no lumps of flour. Try not to be alarmed at the dark grey colour. You DON’T have to eat this for breakfast. You DON’T have to start crying and piteously ask your dad if you have to. Cover the hideousness with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light on to fester overnight.
  2. dough: In the morning of the day you plan to bake the bread, pour body temperature water into a small bowl and whisk yeast in until it has dissolved. With regards to how you get body temperature water – even though the temptation may be great, keep your hands away from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. Check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto the inside of your wrist: if it feels hot, it’s too hot; if it feels cold, it’s too cold; if it feels like a cross between cool, warm and nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.
  3. Dump 250gm all-purpose flour into the bowl with the grey sludge that looks just as appetizing as it did the night before. Be pleased that the nice white flour covers up the scariness. Put salt on top of the flour. (Do measure your salt by weight rather than by volume. Various kinds of salt have different grades of coarseness…. For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)
  4. Rummage frantically through the herb/spice drawer in search of caraway seeds that you KNOW are there. Fail to find them, because you are unable to read. Decide that this particular rye bread will not have caraway seeds and begin mentally composing the apology to Kelly and the rest of the BBBabes. Add the yeasted water and using a wooden spoon, stir everything together. Worry for a second that you’ve added to much flour. Once all the all-purpose flour has been absorbed, begin worrying that there isn’t enough flour but take comfort in the fact that the mixture no longer looks quite so alarming.
  5. kneading in the bowl: Use your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl until the dough feels quite smooth. Try not to pay attention to the stickiness.
  6. add the caraway seeds: Discover that wailing loudly about having no caraway seeds produces fantastic results. Knead in the caraway seeds that were right there in the drawer all along. Put a plate over the bowl and leave it to sit in the oven with only the light on for about three hours.
  7. add more flour: After three hours have passed, take the cover off the bowl to stretch and fold the dough, errmmm…. batter. Check the urge to laugh hysterically and remember that the other BBBabes said they had added more flour. Knead in 100gm more unbleached all-purpose flour.
  8. add raisins: Continue to fail to notice that the raisins were supposed to be pulverised into a paste and added directly to the dough. Instead, be distracted and incredible happy and relieved that finally, the dough looks like dough. Celebrate by kneading the raisins in whole.
  9. shaping: When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a well-floured board. Cut it in half. Form each piece into an oval. Place them seam-side down on plenty of flour. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a plastic grocery bag. Leave in the oven, with only the light turned on, to rise until almost doubled. As Lien said in September, the bread is ready to bake when “a light indentation, you make with a finger, stays visible.”
  10. baking: Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat it to 400F. 4 Just before putting the loaves in the oven, score one of the loaves and leave the other unscored. Liberally spray the loaves with water and using a peel, slide them onto the stone. Immediately turn the oven down to 375F and bake the bread for about 30 minutes until they sound hollow when knocked on the bottom. Imagine that you are going to measure the temperature with a thermometer but fail to pierce the thick crust. Knock on the bottom of the bread again and decide it’s done.
  11. cooling: Allow the bread to cool completely before serving. It’s still baking inside! N.B. Of course you may want to serve warm bread. Reheat it after it has cooled completely.

    To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.


1.) malted rye The BBB recipe calls for zero malted rye. I added it because we had some. Next time I will probably omit it. The malt can tend to make the crumb a bit sticky.

2.) all-purpose flour The BBB recipe calls for “2 cups organic, (250 g) unbleached white (or all purpose) flour”. Because the dough was so sloppy, I made an executive decision to add 100gm more flour. Another time, I might add a little whole wheat flour as well.

3.) caraway seeds and raisins The BBB recipe calls for the caraway seeds to be crushed and just 1 Tbsp raisins to be turned into a paste and then added to the porridge in the morning, before adding the all-purpose flour. Because I can’t read, I didn’t notice…. I decided that 1 Tbsp raisins wasn’t nearly enough and added another Tbsp.

Crush the caraway seeds with a mortar and pestle until fragrant and broken. Add the raisins and grind into a paste. Stir the last 1 tbsp water into the caraway/raisin paste.
BBB Porridge Bread recipe

4.) Preheating the Oven The BBB recipe calls for putting the bread into a cold oven. But because of my stellar reading skills, I didn’t notice that until long after our porridge bread was baked and I was typing up this post. So much for that remedial reading course I’ve been taking….

I loved that it was started in a cold oven. I love the caraway in rye bread. I loved how the caraway and raisin paste smelled.
– Kelly, message to BBBabes
Set the oven to 450ºF and immediately place the loaves in to bake. Bake in the heating oven for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 400ºF and bake for 45 minutes longer. They will be quite dark.
– BBB Porridge Bread recipe



porridge bread (BBB)

Bread Baking Babes BBB November 2016

[P]ain bouillie is one from the Alpine region of France around the town of Villar-d’Aréne. The bouillie is made with dark rye flour and set aside to rest for seven hours. The porridge is then mixed into a dough, without any yeast, and allowed to rest for another seven hours. When the dough is finally made into loaves, they are placed in an oven that has already been used for bread and so the temperature is only about 200ºF. The loaves bake for seven hours and the process produces a moist, dense, completely sourdough bread that last well over six months – or so the story goes. The bread is traditionally made in November and it keeps best when stored in wine cellars and hay lofts.”
-Joe Ortiz, Porridge Bread (Pain Bouillie), The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America

Kelly is hosting November 2016’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

Things tend to get a bit hectic at the end of the year and so I went with the bread that does not require as much hands on time and repeated bake cycles. I love a rye bread that is not quite so dark and dense, though this one has a delightful texture, both chewy and moist. Freshly cooled, the crust was crisp and very chewy! It makes great bread for soups and stews, and great toast. I’m sure it would make nice savory sandwiches as well. […] I also appreciated that this was a recipe traditionally baked in November. The Village Baker version does include yeast and a little white flour to make it more accessible. […] I will be making this one regularly.

We know you’ll want to make rye porridge so you too can have this wonderful bread! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make Porridge Bread in the next couple of weeks and post about them (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 November 2016. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

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 make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ November 2016 bread.

As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)


Gin a body meet a body
Coming thro’ the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body—
Need a body cry?



This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes on by .

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8 responses to “Eeeeek! …porridge bread (BBB November 2016)

  1. Kelly

    Hahahahaha! Always love reading your posts. Your loaves turned out gorgeous! I like the free form. And I have emptied entire shelves out of my pantry looking for ingredients that I absolutely knew I had. Somewhere. You must have gotten a thinner crust by starting in a heated oven, which may be a good thing, that crust was rather tough. Your Reubens look delicious!

  2. Lien

    o the trauma’s we have from childhood porridge!!!
    Love the shape of the loaves, the one with the slash the best.
    I read in your comment on another babe’s blog that you didn’t place them in a cold oven…hûh…???… cold oven…. hmm did I do that…. can’t remember that I did… Never saw it in the recipe (eventhough it was there of course)… I do remember thinking what a ridiculous long baking time . Haha I need that recipe reading course too!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Indeed, adults can be so dismissive of children’s negative impressions of food.

      Considering that the baking starting in a cold oven was problematic, I’m kind of glad I failed the reading course….

  3. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Do you think it’s the phase of the moon … maybe the time of day … could it be that we haven’t worn something purple in a week? I think I’ll try wearing a red hat when I read a recipe, maybe that would help.
    Both my crusts were tough (one sprayed with water, one with oil). Now if the hot oven would do a thinner crust that would be great, I’ll have to try that because I really found the taste wonderful on this one.
    I always accuse Gorn of closing his eyes when he looks for something but it is nerve racking when I know I have X in the pantry and can not lay my hands on it.
    Lien’s right, childhood porridge traumas seem very common and severe.

  4. katiezel

    People actually eat Cream of Wheat? It’s like…. bland flour soup. Did I say bland? Really bland. Ok… your rye loves, on the other hand are making me seriously crave a rueben (not on French menus)

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Apparently… but I certainly won’t. It looks too horrid (not to mention that it falls into the category of foods I won’t eat: anything that shudders.)

      Luckily, Reubens are very easy to make and you must surely have the makings of them at your disposal – good cheese, Alsatian sauerkraut and good smokey ham. (I know. It’s supposed to be be beef. But trust me, ham works brilliantly if you’re serving Reubenesque sandwiches to people on a non-Kosher diet.)


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