The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

April Fool Holey Bread

agres's picture

April Fool Holey Bread

 My wife and I like porridge for breakfast.  The porridge always includes oats, nuts, and fruit but otherwise it is not really constrained, and I am always looking for ideas. Recently I picked-up  Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain Breakfast cereal, but it was not really a winner – we did not really like the texture, so I ground it into flour for my Pain de Campania series.

It made a surprisingly good addition to my Pain de Campania.  It was worth thinking deeply about.

The “10-grain flour” got some added Kamut, Spelt, and hard winter wheat flour (sifted through a 40# sieve) , and there was a series of loaves of various proportions.

So, a friend was coming back from Europe, and we invited her over for an April Fool “Holy Bread” Luncheon. We served Holey bagels (strong bread flour), Kosher Challah (weak bread flour), and Pain de Campania decorated with a cross.

This has really become our favorite bread. My grain mix is about 1 part “10-grain flour” 1 part Kamut flour, 1 part Spelt flour, 1 part Rye flour, 1 part Sprouted Wheat flour, and 2 parts sifted Winter Wheat flour. Altogether, that mix is my PdC flour.  Those grains all came into the house last fall, and we had a warm, wet winter, so I expect they have absorbed some moisture, which will affect hydration. I am also using commercial strong bread flour, from a new sack, so it will be very dry.

My sourdough starter is fed about every other day, and the morning the day before baking, about 100 grams of starter gets fed with 150 grams PdC grain mix and 150 grams water and is left on the counter (65F). By early evening it is 400 grams of a nice bubbly leaven.  A month or so ago, I accidently dumped all my starter into a batch of bread. It took a few days to build a new starter.  This is that new starter, and not some heritage starter I got from – some mythical grandmother.  However, in the last couple of weeks, it seems to have picked up additional strains of yeast that does produce a lighter crumb – I do not think that sourdough starters are ever finished, they evolve with what they are fed and the environment.

In the early evening before the day of the bake, I put 400 grams of water in a big bowl, add the 400 gm of leaven, and mix with a whisk. I add 200 grams of the PdC flour, cover and let sit on the counter for 3 or 4 hours. About 9 pm I add 50 grams of olive oil, 30 grams of molasses, 12 grams of salt, and stir in 400 grams of strong bread flour, and stir/knead into a coarse dough. I put a lid on it, and let it sit on the counter over-night.

First thing in the morning, the dough gets stretched, and rolled up into a ball, several times in a couple of hours, with 20 or 30 minutes of rest in the covered bowl between stretches. I do not turn the dough out, I simply pick up the dough, and stretch it. After all the stretching, it will be a smooth, elastic dough.  After a rest, the loaf is formed (on a counter), it is put into a cloth lined plastic colander, and the flaps of the cloth liner are folded over the loaf. If I am using baskets with liners, then I cover the loaf with an elastic/plastic baker’s cover. 

When the loaf is risen, it gets turned into an enameled iron pot that was preheated to 395F, the loaf is slashed, the preheated lid goes on and the pot/loaf goes into the 395F oven with convection for 15 minutes. Then, the lid comes off, and the oven is turned down to 375F with convection. After another 15 minutes, the oven is turned down to 350F without convection. Thus, there is a total of 40 minutes in a “reducing” oven.

Total elapsed time from setting the sourdough on the counter until the bread comes out of the oven is  about 29 hours. (Or 24 hours if I want a denser crumb.) Total elapsed work time over that period is less than 20 minutes – I spend a lot more time washing my hands than I spend actually working on the bread. Total cleanup time is about 5 minutes. Net weight of such a loaf is just over a kilo.

It is a real sourdough – it wants a little rest before cutting. And it keeps well – it reaches a peak a few hours after it comes out of the oven. Because it is really a no-knead dough, I am not limited by the size of my stand mixer, and I am no longer tempted to lay down a big bag of money for a fancy dough mixer.  I can use bigger pots (or a turkey roaster) to bake bigger loaves.



David R's picture
David R

I have to say I appreciate your efforts over time in finding different interesting ways to spell "Pain de c." 🙂

I'm sure the folks around Naples and Pompeii who have dedicated themselves to producing French bread are sending you a vote of thanks for your subtle shout-out to them. ☺️ (Same for the tightly-knit group of English-speaking people who are big fans of that part of Italy, who I'm sure have several candidates in mind for this year's "Most Irritating And Obnoxious Person Between San Pietro Infine And Sapri", informally known as "The Pain Of Campania".)


PS: Not sure if we've had champagne bread yet. 🙂

isand66's picture

I love adding similar ingredients into my breads.  Next time instead of grinding the porridge into flour, cook it as a porridge and add it to the dough.  I think you will love that style of bread as well.

Happy Baking.


ericjs's picture

As a porridge-fan, do you use a flaker (aka flocker, aka grain roller)?