The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do the steel cut oats in porridge count toward "flour" in baker's percentage?

clazar123's picture

Do the steel cut oats in porridge count toward "flour" in baker's percentage?

I'm venturing into unfamiliar territory. Just when I think I get it, I am confused.

I am making an oatmeal bread that has cooked steelcut oats (porridge) and also rolled oats as an additive. To properly account for the percentages, I should add the grams of flour,flax,steelcut oats (dry) that made the porridge and the rolled oats (dry weight) that were soaked in milk. All the liquids they were soaked in or cooked in get put into the hydration weight.

Do I have that correct? I guess I have trouble believing it because when I add this recipe up, it comes out to 480g "flour"(WW flour,Bread flour,steelcut oats,rolled oats,flax) and 488g liquid (milk,water). I know the dough was high hydration but I didn't think it was that high.

Another affirmation needed-Oil and brown sugar are not added into either calculation,correct?

isand66's picture

When I figure out hydration I use the dry oats as part of the flour total but I do not use the liquid used to soak the oats or other grains as part of the total liquid % even though it is absorbed by the oats.  As far as I know this is how the Bread Bakers Guild figures out hydration and bakers percentages.  If you strain the oats or grains and add the leftover liquid into your dough then you would add the liquid as part of the total.

clazar123's picture

I do add the soaking liquid to the dough so I did count it. The "porridge" portion is steel cut oats cooked in water so I added that liquid,also.

I've been looking at this recipe and I think it has a ways to go before I really like it. The loaf came out nice looking and I let it get to room temp before sampling and I would say it tastes like a straight through yeast bread. I usually use a natural levain preferment and it just demonstrates to me the difference in flavor. I am going to have to convert this to a natural levain for taste and I think it needs a slight reduction in oats-the percentage of oats to flour is 53%! I think I will cut that down to about 40% and will probably be happier with the crumb.

Janetcook's picture

When I add oatmeal or oat porridge to a formula I do not count the oats as part of the flour.  Flour, for me, is always 100% so I factor in the oats as a % off of the flour weight.  

I count all of the water/milk in a formula as the total hydration so, accoring to how I do it, your hydration level (488g) reads just fine since you are using oats as well as flax seeds in your loaf.  Both are pretty thirsty and will absorb a lot of that water. My 'go to' oatmeal bread HERE has a HL of 89%.  

Oil and brown sugar would each have their own % based off of the total flour.


FoodFascist's picture

hi there, I don't know how the pros calculate it, what I do know though is that a good deal of the liquid you'll be cooking your oats in will evaporate. So if you really need to be precise, weigh the oats and water/milk before cooking, then weigh the porridge after it's cooked (AND cooled down) and subtract the difference from your total liquid count.

It makes sense to me to count oats as flour though, especially as oats are quite sticky and have properties somewhat similar to gluten.

isand66's picture

I agree with you on a logic basis, but the "Pros" from what I have read do not seem to follow your method which is why when I have made breads with soakers and do not count the liquid they soak up in my formula it seems to be completely mis-representing the true nature of the dough.  In the end it really only matters to yourself unless you are doing this professionally or writing a book.

proth5's picture

"Flour" is the gluten containing portion of the formula (when doing gluten containing baking), so oats (and flax seed)  - that do not contain gluten are not counted as  flour.

If they are soaked or cooked, they count as a soaker and are written in a separate section in the formula.  In theory, the soaker is hydration neutral which means it neither contributes nor takes away from the formula's hydration.  In practice this is tricky, so the water that is absorbed by the oats does not count towards the hydration number, but water poured off does. The wet oats (even drained) will probably add to the hydration of the dough (unless you are very good at draining oats) so the calculated hydration number will always be slightly off, but should be within process tolerance.

Oil and brown sugar do contribute to the way the dough handles (and other ingredients have "effective hydrations") but are not usually included in the hydration number. 

The hydration percent is really used to understand the structure and nature of the bread by looking at the formula and is not an end unto itself.  When you have a lot of other factors (like soakers and enrichments) they are somewhat less (but still) useful.

Hope this helps.

MangoChutney's picture

When I add pre-cooked home-milled oat groats to my bread, I count it as water roux. I believe that water roux is essentially a home-made polysaccharide gel additive. It makes the bread moister and gives it a softer texture, without making the dough handle "wetter". I do count the water remaining in the cooked oats, as determined by weighing after cooking, in the hydration of the dough because that is the type of final bread I am getting. The advantage I see to using the pre-gelled starch is that the dough doesn't stick to my hands and everything else as much as it normally would for that hydration level.

I am not sure how it would work if the cooked oats were not first milled into flour, but perhaps cooked oat starch is cooked oat starch regardless of the form in which the oats are cooked.

Perhaps the best compromise on the rolled oats is to drain the excess milk from the soaked oats and weigh that. That weight is the percentage of water in your ingredient "soaked rolled oats". This is how liquid is counted in other wet non-flour ingredients such as eggs and yogurt.

clazar123's picture

I am developing this "recipe" for my own use and lately any recipe I am developing I have taken to converting to volume(cups teaspoons) and weights (g). The idea for this loaf came from a recent request by another poster for an oat bread made with over 40% oats. Since I have a LOT of oats (steel cut and otherwise), and I am in the mood for a different daily breakfast bread,I thought I would work on a hearty,toastable,flavorful oat bread. I started with the recipe suggested by a responder to that post that included  a link to King Arthur's site.

The recipe, as written, definitely needs a re-write with mise-en-place consideration. I found it difficult to follow- I like a more step-by-step flow to a written recipe. It is a straight-through,single rise technique made with instant yeast.

I added cardamom and coriander,substituted oil for butter,reduced the yeast (but not nearly enough!) and added flax. This was the stickiest dough I have ever worked with! I am amazed that I got a loaf and re-discovered I really don't like the taste of straight-through, yeast only bread. I think this was designed as a  fast bread and that is apparent in the flavor (lack). It also fermented and proofed like lightening and while I had developed the gluten to a windowpane, it was still a somewhat fragile dough that easily tore . I think it proofed so fast it did not give the gluten time to relax and extend so it tended to tear as it rose.  More rye characterisitcs than wheat.It has a high starch-to-gluten ratio that has very little stretch capability with that amount of yeast. The crumb is moist and toothesome with the small pieces of steelcut oats visible and it takes a lot of toasting to brown due to the moisture of the crumb.   It reminds me of the texture of a slightly fluffier pumpernickel. Texturewise, I think I got what I could from the dough. Likewise, I got an oat mouth feel when you chewed-kind of pasty. Taste-it needs work. Even the spices did not come through and did not help. I'll see if I can get a crumb shot.

Interesting-when I look at the crumb, the pink center is not visible. I believe it is the moisture of the crumb and that tells me it probably needed a few minutes more baking even though the internal temp was 199F. Shaping was hopeless for this dough-too wet. I'm pleasantly surprised it is as good as it is.The top was deeply slashed and it still split on one side of the top. This loaf is not supposed to have oven spring but I was afraid it would poof up and collapse. A major yeast reduction is called for. It called for 2 tsp instant yeast for 1 loaf! The tiny white dots are the steel cut oats.

My understanding-For Hydration purposes, the oats should be included in the calculation with the flour. For Formula purposes, the oats are a percentage of the flours-at least that is how I did it. SO when I say it had 53% oats, I added the oats (in g) and used that total as the numerator and the flour weights in grams (WW and Bread flour). For Hydration-I added the oats with the flour as the total "flour" .

After reviewing my collection of recipes, I revisited a soft mutilgrain bread recipe that I may shift to developing for my new breakfast bread and just try increasing the oats. That recipe was ALL whole grain.

clazar123's picture

Thank you, proth5 and MangoChutney, I was a long time composing and didn't see your posts till I finally posted my composition (gave a haircut,figured out my new phone camera,downloading pic to computer,etc) .

The clarification on using soakers and rouxs in percentages (I use both techniques) is appreciated-I always wondered how they accounted for that because it does seem different. I guess that is another reason I feel even the most precise formula is a guideline and a baker has to really understand dough by feel and experience.  I know there are engineer bakers out there that want to quantify everything but that is really a challenge.

A lesson I learned with these high whole grain doughs is that if you want structure to your bread, there has to be excellent gluten development. It doesn't have to be a high percentage of gluten, necessarily, but the gluten present MUST be well developed. I get plenty of structure in multigrain bread with WW and AP flour and plenty of hydration-I just knead the heck (via KA mixer) to some form of windowpane.


dabrownman's picture

flours,  seeds, groats, whole, steel cut or rolled oats that are part of a scald, soaker,  roux, boiled gruel or porridge  wouldn't be considered part of the flour in hydration calculations nor would the water they soaked up in the process.  But any water drained off, like I do for scald and soaker waters,  and used for the hydration of other flours in the mix is included hydration calculations.

Oats when ground like a flour and used like one in bread should included as a flour for hydration purposes.  Whole oat groats should also be included  in whole grain calculations since they are whole cereal grains and do contain gluten - just not the same ones that are found in wheat, rye and barley.   The gluten in oats is avenalin ( similar to the gluten in legumes), the gluten in wheat is gliadin, the gluten in rye is secalin and the gluten in barley is hordein.  Even though 1 in 5 people with celiac disease are still adversely affected by the gluten in oats, 4 in 5 are not and these folks should consider getting oats back into their diets since oats have huge protein levels up to 24% for some oat groats and huge amounts of soluble dietary fiber  - nothing like it in the cereal grain category or anything else really.

Flax seeds are a grain derived from a grass like rice, but not a cereal grain, and do not contain any gluten if grown, harvested and processed properly.  They too have huge amounts of dietary fiber - pound for pound maybe the best.  Sadly, if not ground up, the seeds are so hard they pass through the body undigested and all of the great nutritive properties are lost and wasted - in your waste.   Flax seeds are certainly a whole grain and nearly 50% oil a really great one.  Usually huge amounts of ground flax seeds are not used in breads and aren't considered part of the flour calculations but, if the water in small amounts of honey, barley malt and  molasses are included in hydration calculations I see no reason why b40% the weight of flax seeds can't be included as flour if ground and are used in large proportions. 

One thing is for sure, whole ground oat groats and ground flax seeds are two of the very best things nutritionally that you can and put in bread, like any whole grain,  to make it a more healthy choice.  There are the two best additions in breads fpr those with cholesterol problems.  Just makes sure to grind the flax seeds.

clazar123's picture

THank you,dabrowman, for the succinct explanation of using whole grain,seeds and porridge as a part of a soaker/roux,etc. It makes more sense now. 

That is why I wanted to go to an oat/ground flax/wholegrain bread for our breakfast bread-wonderfully healthful and satisfying. We eat a slice of  Breakfast Bread toasted and dribbled with a little olive oil every morning as our main breakfast . A small dish of homemade yogurt with fresh fruit and it is a great, nutritious breakfast.

My current  Breakfast Bread is a WW/ground flax/craisin/gold raisin/walnut loaf with cardamom and coriander as flavorings. It has a little honey and made with a natural levain. It is very delicious but we need a change.

All the comebacks are appreciated-this is such a great forum.

Bake with delicious love and have fun today.