One of the easiest, and most gratifying, urban homesteading projects is making sourdough bread. Sourdough bread has much more flavor than a regular straight bread. For some, the extra flavor, or sourness, is an acquired taste. For others, it sings on our tongue and makes straight dough breads sad in comparison.
Originally published: 2/19/13
Many years ago I taught an Art and Science of Baking class. Most of my students were high school sophomores. I’ll never forget the first time we made sourdough bread from scratch. The whole school was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread, but the students wouldn’t eat a crumb of it. Nurturing the starter had been gross and they were sure the bread was disgusting. Ahh, the wisdom – or lack thereof – of youth. We teachers had a different definition of disgusting, and we were happy to be the official taste-testers. The bread disappeared in short order and I can only hope that my former students now shake their heads when considering their youthful sourdough folly.
It’s difficult to find a true sourdough oatmeal bread recipe. Most oatmeal bread recipes are for either straight dough (using dried yeast) or for recipes that use a combination of sourdough starter and yeast. So I ended up creating my own recipe. And it is a winner! Sorry – I try to be humble but this bread was so good that I ended up making two large loaves in one week. I’d like to say that the whole family was over but that would be a lie. My husband and I ate both loaves ourselves. It really is that good. So I can’t tell you how long this bread lasts before it dries out or gets moldy because it didn’t hang around that long in my house. I bet it won’t in yours either.
Just as oatmeal bread is a good way to start moving to whole grain bread, oatmeal sourdough is a good way to introduce sourdough bread. It’s a bit lighter than many sourdoughs, with a softer texture.
- 2 cups active sourdough starter
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups rolled oats (either old-fashioned or quick)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1 - 1¼ cups lukewarm milk
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or your stand mixer bowl.
- Combine until a loose dough forms. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.
- Knead dough 5 - 10 minutes or until dough is smooth. The dough will still be quite wet. That's ok if you are using a stand mixer. If you are kneading by hand you my need to add a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Just add as little as possible as we want to keep this a soft dough.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place, about 2 hours.
- Shape dough and place in a large greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise for an additional 1 - 1½ hours.
- If you are using a regular metal or glass loaf pan bake at 375 degrees for 50 - 55 minutes or until the interior reaches 200 degrees (I use my trusty digital thermometer for this). If you are using an unglazed terra cotta pan (like I do, shown above) follow the directions that come with the pan. For example, I soak the pan in water for 15 minutes and then place the bread in a cold oven, set the temperature to 475 and bake for about 50 minutes.
- When done, remove from pan and let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. This is important to let the crumb set so you will get nice even slices.
As I noted above, this recipe is the “best ever.” I have made hundreds of sourdough breads and this is by far my favorite. It’s a great combination of of whole grains (oatmeal) without being heavy, a nice light but well-textured bread, with the extra tangy flavor of sourdough. What about you? What is your favorite sourdough bread?