The Fresh Loaf

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Seeking feedback - no knead honey oat sourdough

ahbramey's picture

Seeking feedback - no knead honey oat sourdough

Hello! I am a new member of the forums and a somewhat new sourdough baker (started April 2020) who typically uses the Tartine country loaf recipe as written in the NYT but with a few tweaks. I wanted to try something new that wouldn’t be as much as a time investment as my typical sourdough process, so I was browsing recipes and found this one: I had heard of no knead sourdough before but hadn’t tried one out, but I was a little skeptical of this recipe for a couple of reasons:

  1. it felt like the hydration was SUPER high (I realized later this was likely to compensate for the dry oats, and later read no-kneads tend to be higher hydration? is this true?)
  2. it was entirely spelt (which I don’t currently have access to)
  3. it seemed like an incredibly long bulk ferment / proof at room temp (which seems to, again, be characteristic of no-kneads?)
  4. not every ingredient was weighed

I was interested, though, so I did some more research and found this recipe from a more trusted source: I decided to do kind of a mix of the two. Here’s what I ultimately did:

  • 480g white bread flour (my thought process here was this would help me get better structure in the bread since there's no kneading to develop the gluten, but from my understanding, time also = gluten development, so maybe I should've stuck with AP flour)
  • 300g room temp water 
  • 100g starter (which is 100% hydration rye, fed the night before, started the dough the following AM less than 12 hours later)
  • 130g rolled oats (dry, not soaked/cooked)
  • 1 3/4tsp kosher salt
  • ~3tbsp honey 

I pretty much followed the technique from the Food52 recipe. I did get a little terrified about it being too dry because the dough felt kind of stiff so I ended up randomly sprinkling water on the dough and towel covering it every so often (literally sprinkling with fingertips, lol). Bulk fermentation was about 8 hours at room temp (~70-72 degrees F). Then I shaped and put into a loaf tin lined with parchment to proof for 2 hours (last half hour was on top of the stove as it preheated). I attempted to score but my skills need work - I had a blowout on the side, as you’ll see in a second. I preheated a baking stone in the oven along with some water in a pan for steam. Temp was 450F. I baked it with the water pan for 30 min and then an additional 20 minutes with it removed, and the last 10-15 mins of baking I turned the oven down to 400F. 

(Apologies - I can't figure out how to rotate these images)

An angled photo of a loaf of bread.

A top view of a loaf of bread.

The interior of a loaf of bread. The crumb is tight. There are specks of oats.

I waited about 3 hours before cutting into it. The crust is super crackly and crisp, the inside is very chewy but not dense and there’s nice texture from the oats. It has a good flavor, a little sour but you can't really tell there's honey in it. I am mostly happy about the crumb since it’s meant to be used as sandwich bread. 

I want to try this again and I wanted to see if anyone has any feedback for me about what I did the first time / what I might want to change for next time: 

  1. slightly higher hydration or potentially a pre-soak of the oats (not sure if I want to fully cook or even pre-soak them - I’ve read a tiny bit about oat porridge breads and not sure I want to go in that direction, but feel free to change my mind!), though I think my level of hydration turned out ok for this one? and I liked the texture of the oats.
  2. more honey - I think it was a part of why my crust was so great but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you any honey was in the bread, but maybe this is because the sourdough flavor overpowered it?
  3. something I liked about this technique was that the entire process took 1 day instead of the 2-3 days my sourdough typically takes me, and it was very hands off. But the trade off was less developed flavor (in my opinion). I’d like to try to avoid a cold proof if possible for this one, so maybe more starter (or even adding discard?) could help me cheat my way there flavor-wise? Or maybe I needed to feed my starter twice before baking? (I keep it in the fridge and feed it once a week)
  4. I typically bake sourdough with a local “off white” bolted bread flour, so once I’m back from where I’m currently staying, I will be switching back to that flour. But I’m interested to see what incorporating spelt or rye would do for this bread, and/or not using bread flour, as neither recipe I used for inspiration used bread flour. 
  5. I don't have a Dutch oven where I'm currently staying, but I will have one again once I'm back home. Curious to see how the bread would've turned out in there, though I am pretty happy with how it turned out in the loaf pan.

I am excited to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading this long post :)