Two of my favorite bread baking sites are Wild Yeast and The Fresh Loaf. Every Friday, I look forward to Susan’s Yeastspotting event, that showcases breads baked during the previous week by folks all over the world. And The Fresh Loaf is a discussion forum with help and advice for beginners as well as experienced bakers. Through my visits to both sites over several years, I got to know – virtually, at least – some amazing bread bakers like MC, who runs the blog with the cute name “Farine.” Not too long ago she raved about a bread from Orchard Hill Breadworks, a bakery in New Hampshire owned by Noah Elbers. During her visit to the bakery, she learned how to make one of their signature breads, with two flavors I am quite fond of: oatmeal and maple syrup.
I won’t lie to you, the preparation is a bit involved: the day before you’ll need to bake the oatmeal, refresh your sourdough starter, and make a poolish with commercial yeast. But your hard work will pay off, big time… ;-)
NOAH ELBERS’ MAPLE-OATMEAL BREAD
(reprinted from Farine‘s blog, with permission from Noah Elbers)
447 g all-purpose unbleached flour
151 g whole-wheat flour
151 g steel-cut oatmeal, baked
328 g water
151 g liquid starter
151 g poolish
121 g pure maple syrup
16 g salt
The day before baking the bread:
1. Refresh your sourdough starter, to make sure it is bubbly and active when you make the dough next morning. I do that about 12 hours before mixing the dough, by mixing 2 tsp of mature starter with 150g water and 150g flour. Next morning remove the amount you need and keep the rest in the fridge.
2. Make the poolish by mixing 100g flour + pinch of instant yeast + 100 g/ml water recipe: Leave to ferment overnight. You will not use it all, weigh what you need for the recipe.
3. Bake the oatmeal. Boil water, then mix it with the oatmeal in a baking dish (200g oatmeal + 200g/ml boiling water). Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 400F oven for 40 minutes. The mixture will turn into a brick. Once it cools, break the bits of oatmeal with your fingers, and weigh the amount needed for the dough.
On baking day:
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (except the salt), kneading briefly to form a shaggy mass. Let the mixture resting for 30 minutes. Add the salt and incorporate by gentle kneading.
Let the dough rest for 40 minutes. Knead by folding the dough in itself 4-6 times. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes more. Knead it again by folding.
Let the dough rise for 40 minutes, do one final cycle of kneading, then allow it to sit undisturbed for a full hour (total bulk fermentation will be about 3 hours).
Shape the dough as a large batard, or divide in two and shape as a small round (that’s what I did). Let the shaped bread rise for 1 hour at room temperature, then retard it in the fridge for 12-15 hours.
Bring the bread to room temperature for 2 hours before baking in a 450F oven for 45 minutes (25 minutes under steam, covered, 20 minutes uncovered). Cool the bread for at least one hour before indulging in it.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Even though this bread takes oatmeal and maple syrup, it is not sweet. I think its sourdough nature creates a nice counterpart to the sweetness, so that the bread is quite versatile: you can enjoy it with peanut butter and jelly (like my husband did), or go for a bit of Brie or Camembert (my favorite take).
I highly recommend that you visit Farine website
, and click on the video made in the bakery during the preparation of this bread. It is amazing to see how those talented bakers handle a huge amount of dough, from mixing to shaping. And while you are net-surfing, make sure to stop by the bakery website
and read about how it all started, a fascinating story told by Noah himself.