The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Maurizio’s Oat Porridge Levain, alfanso-style

alfanso's picture

Maurizio’s Oat Porridge Levain, alfanso-style

As baguettes (long batards),of course.  Covered by wheat bran.

Edit 5/18/2019 - And a second run with my adjusted formula to make sure that I understood the process, and because it's a darn tasty bread!  Changes applied:

  • Used the double boiler method to cook the oats.
  • Added the additional final basinage ("Held Back" on formula sheet) during incorporation of the oatmeal, which definitely made the dough a bit wetter and more difficult and extensible.
  • Due to extensibility, wend from divide directly to shaping - the dough almost shaped itself.
  • Baked to a richer tone darker than the previous bake.

590g x 2 gros baguettes/long batards 

End of edit.

I was out of state these past weeks when suddenly Dan sneakily posted his Community Bake behind my back.  I’m not big on “challenges” and typically don’t join in as much as I do join in. But there has long been chatter and postings of porridge breads by quite a few of the crew here on Isle TFL, both respected old timers like Ian as well as some of the fine young fillies and colts. Having never incorporated porridge, I though that this would be a fine time to give it a go.

I generally try to use what’s already in the cupboard, which in this case was my supermarket branded quick oats.   But for this venture I went with the recommended BRM (not thick).

As with Paul’s comments about the consistency of the 1g:2g ratio, “About 5 minutes in, the porridge starts to firm up, losing any resemblance to “creamy” or “loose”. “, and as with a good number of others in this exercise, the words creamy texture were a unknown inside of my sauce pan.

The ratio turns out to be a 1:1 volume, but the typical volume measurement for oatmeal is 1:2.  So I did that.  And in my first run, I used that 1:2 volume – which naturally made the entire affair tip toward the goopy side of what dough should be.  Here are the two side by side.  Left is called for in the formula, right is by the oatmeal package instruction.  And even these did not turn creamy.

What this reminded me of is the wonderful “magic grits” scene from the movie My Cousin Vinny, and I‘ll quote the relevant sentence here: “Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your (Maurizio’s) stove”.

Way overhydrated, I was still able to eke out a semblance of a bake, and the bread was delicious


On this second run, I made a few changes:

  • Changed the pre-fermented flour from 7% to 15%.  It just isn’t in my DNA to let a dough sit on the counter for a full three hours post bulk rise.  I already put in my time with this dough, so into retard it went after 45 minutes more.
  • One final Letter Fold just before the retard in the hopes of giving the dough just a bit more strength.
  • Lowered the base dough hydration down from my calculated 76.8% to 74%.  With a dough this hydrated, I felt that my shaping would benefit from dropping the base hydration down ~ 3%.
  • Used the recommended 1g:2g Maurizio ratio for the porridge.  Then ran the oatmeal through a potato ricer, which helped break down all the clumps.  Still a continent away from creamy,  but incorporating them into the dough using the French Fold method was successful.
  • 45 minute post-bulk rise on the counter due to the increase in pre-fermented flour, instead of 3 hours.
  • Rolled the shaped dough in wheat bran rather than dry rolled oats, as I don't really like to look of those flakes on my bread all that much. 

Left: just after releasing steam.  Right: about to pull from the oven 


They didn’t grigne as much as my typical baguettes, but I am not surprised at all given the unique characteristics of the dough.

2 x 450g baguettes / long batards

Here is my (BBGA) version of the formula, also normalized for 1000g

Oat Porridge Levain          
Maurizio Leo       Total Flour   
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1000 Porridge  Prefermented15.00%  
 Total Formula      Levain Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams %GramsIngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%406.3 0.00%  100%60.9Final Flour345.4
 Bread Four68.50%278.3 0%  50%30.5Bread Four247.9
 Whole Wheat31.50%128.0 0%  50%30.5Whole Wheat97.5
 Water: Final Dough74.00%300.7 0.00%0.0 100%60.9Water239.7
 Inital Mix        Inital Mix222.9
 Post-Autolyse        Post-Autolyse8.4
 Held Back        Held Back8.4
 Salt2.34%9.5 0.00%    Salt9.5
 Rolled Oats23.25%94.5 100.00%94.5     
 Water46.50%188.9 200.00%188.9     
 Salt0.02%0.1 0.00%0.1     
 Starter0.00%0.0    12%14.6  
 Totals246.11%1000.0 300.00%283.5 212%136.5 1000.0
Tepid heat for soaker, 16 min., covered.  Run through potato ricer while hot.   Cool completely 2 stage liquid levain build 
Reserve extra warm water.      Stage 1   
Mix, Flours, inital warm water, levain.  Autolyse for 1 hr.    AP Flour15.2  
Incorporate Salt & Post-Autolyse (bassinage) water.  Pinch & fold   WW15.2  
300 FFs, 150, 5 min rest, 150.      Water30.5  
Bulk Rise 30 min.      Starter14.6  
 Fold in porridge, a little at a time,(add held back water as/if needed)  Stage 2   
Letter Fold immediately.      AP Flour15.2  
Bulk Rise ~2 1/2 hrs.  (five) LF every 30 min.     WW15.2  
Bench Rest 60 min.       Water30.5  
Retard, Divide, pre-shape and shape.      Total136.5  
Moisten dough if needed,  roll in wheat bran or dry rolled oats.  Seam side up on couche.     
Retard a total of ~15 hrs.           
Preheat oven to 500dF.          
Bake w/ Steam @470dF.          
Bake thoroughly due to water retention in bread.         
Let bread set for ~1-3 hrs. before slicing.         




DanAyo's picture

Ricing the porridge sounds super. A great benefit of Community Bakes is the innovative ideas shared when everyone is focused on a single type of bread. For example; someone on the CB used a double boiler for their porridge. I’d like to give that one a try. And the potato ricer for sure...

Alan, even when you approach a bread that greatly deviates from your norm, you still produce your “signature” bread. Artist sign their paintings, but some bakers leave their mark.

Great Job!


Bread1965's picture

Al - you're breads all have a signature style that's uniquely you. I'm tempted to give this one a go as well. Looking forward to the crumb shots! frank!

DanAyo's picture

We need all the help we can get, Frank :D

Please do join in. 


Bread1965's picture

Was just looking at Maurizio's recipe! Will let you know. Thanks..

alfanso's picture

Well, from a head on shot, no.  But from a profile, there is a slight resemblance...

Yes, consistency is something to strive for.  I found that my baguettes seem to not respond well to hydrations above ~75%, just too wet and extensible.  With this particular dough, the added (over) hydration from the porridge made the task all the more challenging.  The ship was righted when I applied the "appropriate" changes.  

Give it a go, but watch for the clumps in the oatmeal, as most have found.  A potato ricer was the solution for that!

thanks, alan

not.a.crumb.left's picture

bake and I don't know how you managed to score those sticky and coated baguette porridge loaves..never mind getting them shaped in the first place.

I look in wonder...


alfanso's picture

it's mostly a matter of practice and paying attention.  Something you should be well aware of considering how far you've come along this past year or so.  Your breads are fairly consistently outstanding looking.  Even if I don't comment very much these days (a little burned out on that front) I do keep a close watch for many of the fine breads showcased  on TFL these days by a slew of others too.  Old hands like Ian and David Snyder and many more as well as the new rush of freshmen and sophomores around here.

Considering the overall hydration, which I'm really not sure about due to evaporation of some of the oat water as well as whatever moisture the oat retains that it doesn't give off, I was attentive to scoring at a pretty sharp angle.  For my typical 65-70% hydration doughs, I can be less strict about the angle of the blade and go in at ~45 degrees vs. something like 30 degrees for a wet and heavy dough such as this.

By just dropping the base hydration down that 2.8%, the dough became quite compliant, happy to report, and I feel that the final letter fold just before retard helped to add a little more strength to the dough.

thanks, alan

not.a.crumb.left's picture

are important and you speak wise words...Thank you so much for your kind words and it made me actually go back to hunt for my very first post here on TFL back in January 2018 with the heading: "Over-proofing, under-proofing sourdough or just bad shaping...what does it look like?"

Still learning about all of that but this site is a bit of a diary and lovely to look back and see how the loaves look not quite like that anymore...ha. ha.....I am sure my family is also glad of it...The community here certainly helped me to persevere and not to give up!

Interesting what you say about the angle and hydration and must try that. I have not much ventured into baguettes apart from an initial bake as I wanted to focus on 'basic' shaping and scoring first...My next project is to get that beautiful oval batard shape with tampered ending and then proofed en couche. I probably will have to drop the hydration for that and in a way this probably will lead to baguettes eventually... Key I find is getting the tension right for me  and you clearly are a master of that...oh and many other things of course!   Kat 

alfanso's picture

but a master of none.  Well, except for arranging my sock drawer and taking out the trash.

I'll take the compliment although it really applies to so few of us around these parts, maybe just about no-one save for the long term experts.

I'm about to shape my second batch of tritordeum based baguettes now and so we'll see how "masterful" these turn out.  The dough went into retard feeling pretty darned good, so I'm hoping for some good results when I bake them tomorrow.

thanks again, alan