I just finished baking my first Oatmeal Porridge Bread out of the Tartine no. 3 cookbook. I’ve only been making bread for a few months (15-20 loaves), so please keep in mind the following are the interpretations and results of a true beginner! Since I’ve started to have consistent success with the Tartine loaves, I thought I’d try my hand at a porridge bread for the first time.
The biggest thing I had trouble with on this recipe was figuring out how the porridge should come out. I did a (too brief) search and found a few blogs where people added extra water when cooking the oatmeal to keep it moist.
I made my first batch of oatmeal the day before mixing the dough. I initially added 250g of rolled oats and 500g of water, but it did not seem like it could possibly be enough water. That 1:2 ratio by weight is about a 1:1 ratio by volume. When making oatmeal to eat on its own I always follow the directions given for a 1:2 ratio by volume (or 1:4 by weight) and cook it for less time than the prescribed 15 minutes given in T3. It also didn’t make sense to me that T3 gave one set of directions for porridge (1:2 ratio for fifteen minutes) regardless of what grain is used. So I doubled the water and cooked on low. The resulting product was super gelatinized and soft. Individual oats were broken down into smaller sizes and could easily be squished. I put the oatmeal in the refrigerator overnight.
When I took it out the next day, it held the shape of the pan, like jello (as it warmed up and I broke it apart it got much softer again). I got nervous, did some more googling, and came across the post about the recipe from The Perfect Loaf discussing the lessons they learned across multiple attempts. They recommended sticking to the 1:2 ratio by weight and cooking 18 minutes on low-medium, covered. I made a second batch of oatmeal this way. The water barely covered the oats before cooking, and at the end of cooking the oats were somewhat softened but kept their shapes as individual pieces. Certainly, some gelatinization took place, but it wasn’t much compared to the first batch. They were much too dry to want to eat them plain and clearly had the potential to absorb more water. They did look much more like the oats Chad is seen using in the video on Bon Appetit.
When it came time to add the porridge to the dough (at the second s&f), I wound up splitting the dough in two in order to have a version with each porridge.
Porridge with doubled water (1:4 oats:water). <—- the bread on the left and top in the photos
I gave this dough about 8 stretch and folds and it was not until the last one that it started to maintain any structure. It did get billowy. I pre-shaped and shaped it into a boule. I had some difficulty shaping it as I have not worked with anything near this level of hydration. It wound up tearing a bit, so I let it rest and shaped it again more gently. I patted oats on top of it as I was afraid to roll it in anything, and stitched it quite a bit once it was in the banneton.
When I took it out this morning it maintained it’s structure on top, but that structure had a disconnect from the sides. It was quite wide, although it did not continue to spread. It just fit into my combo cooker.
Cutting into it (after 24 hours), it has a more even crumb, despite having very little oven spring.
Porridge with regular water (1:2 oats:water). <——the bread on the right and bottom in the photos
This dough shaped nicely and I rolled it in the oats before putting into a lined bowl and stitching. Today when I turned it out onto the parchment, it was huge and pillowy. It held its shape much better than the other loaf, but certainly was not tight at all. It also filled the combo cooker to the edge.
This bread had much better oven spring, but the crumb was denser towards the bottom.
I am open to the idea that it is just my inexperience with the extremely high hydration that caused the wetter dough to do so poorly. What are your thoughts on the water content of the porridge? How gelatinized do you make it?