This honey oat sourdough has a deliciously soft crumb with a hint of honey sweetness.
I love this soft honey oat sourdough. It’s not super sweet, just a mere hint of honey really. The oats and wholemeal flour make it really soft. I like shaping this loaf in a rustic way, no fancy scoring. Just a well-browned crust, decorated with scattering of oats, and a soft crumb.
This bread has a very high hydration, much more so that my standard sourdough loaf and is a little trickier to work with than my regular sourdough. It’s so much fun though, and I’ll talk you through the steps below.
In this bread, a third of the flour is wholemeal. Usually wholemeal flour found in supermarkets in NZ is basically white flour with chunky bran flakes added back in.
I am NOT a fan of using that for my sourdough. It gives me a pretty gluey bread more often than not, even with sifting out the bran flakes. I use an organic wholemeal flour found at my local commonsense organics or from goodfor. I look for a nice finely ground wholemeal flour.
The white flour portion of this bread needs to be a high grade white flour. I again use an organic one (a personal preference) but I’ve also baked with supermarket high-grade too with fine results. I use a roller-milled organic white flour. It’s not as nutritious as a traditional stoneground white flour but I don’t really like the taste of stoneground white flour. The roller-milled is much milder in taste.
As with all sourdough, a good active starter is crucial.
Feed your starter in 4-6 hours before you start the bread at 1:2:2 (1 part starter, 2 parts water and 2 parts flour, in weight).
If you have one ‘main’ starter you keep in the fridge, you can build a levain for this bread by taking 28 grams of starter, putting that into a fresh jar and adding 56g flour and 56g water. Mix it well in a glass jar and tie a rubber band around the jar that marks where the starter comes up to. Leave it for 4-6 hours in a warm place for it to double.
I don’t usually make a separate levain, I refresh and feed my ‘main’ starter every time I bake.
I’ll measure out 40g or so of my starter into a new jar, add 80g water and 80g flour and discard anything else. Then I’ll place it in a warm place to double.
Once I’m ready to bake I’ll measure out what I need of that doubled starter to use in the bread.
Left over starter will be 1:1:1 stirred well and scooped into a clean jar. Then it’s back in the refrigerator for the next time I bake. Doing it this way can limit the acid build up in your starter and it’s my preferred method.
I always use my starter when it has doubled and is thick and fluffy, but has not passed its peak. An exhausted starter, passed its peak will be quite acidic and makes the dough hard to work with.
The first step is the autolyse which is simply mixing the main bread flour (and in this case the oats too) and water together to make a sticky, shaggy dough. Letting the water and the flour sit really improves the elasticity of the dough. I find an hours autolyse is great but any amount of autolyse is better than none even if it’s just 10 minutes!
This dough has a high hydration because the oats and wholemeal flour suck that water up like a sponge!
Add the salt, starter and liquid honey after the autolyse and squeeze and squish it together with wet hands until it’s all incorporated. Wet hands are awesome to stop the dough sticking to you.
Tip the mixed dough into a flat dish. This makes the coil folding that I’ll demonstrate soon, so much easier. Leave it to sit and relax for 15 minutes.
I do 6 lots of coil folds, one lot every half an hour for 3 hours total. This strengthens the gluten bonds in the dough which will allow them to hold the gases created by the yeasts and bacteria. Each ‘lot’ of coil folds should have at least 4 folds but do as many as needed to create a smooth dough ball.
The first fold will be the stickiest but very quickly you’ll see the strength form in the dough and it will become stretchy and elastic. Coil folding is folding the dough on top of itself.
The video below shows fold #1 and #2 (with a 1/2 an hour rest in between) and you’ll see the difference in texture between the two.
I always use wet hands when folding!
After the folds, the dough needs to bulk ferment some more on the bench.
This is another really crucial bit! An under-fermented bread will be dense. An over-fermented crumb can collapse as the dough structure has weakened.
A well fermented crumb in this bread will be lacy and open.
This dough needs to bulk out by 50% to be properly proofed. This doesn’t meant doubles, just that it gets half the amount bigger. Sometimes it’s hard to tell as it doesn’t rise up as much as commercial yeast bread. It may spread out too.
It can take around 1-4 hours depending on the heat in your kitchen. A bread will ferment much faster in summer than in winter.
Once it has finished its bulk ferment it’s time for shaping and the cold proof.
To shape, generously dust the bench with flour, then tip the dough dish upside down. Use your fingers to coax it out and let it drop gently on the bench.
Unlike with the folding, flour your hands when shaping the bread.
How you shape it can vary, you just need to focus on getting some tightness into the dough without completely degassing it. It’s a process of stretching the dough into a rectangle, folding it up and then rolling it on the bench to create some surface tension.
Here is a video of how I shape many of my breads. The dough in the video is my regular sourdough and has a lower hydration than this dough so it’s firmer.
Don’t skimp on the rolling bit at the end to create that tension. If you skip it your bread won’t hold it’s shape as well. This is particularly important in a high hydration bread.
Then it’s placed in a well-floured banneton basket and into the fridge for 8-20 hours.
On baking day, preheat your oven and cast iron pots to 230 degrees Celsius (446 degrees F). I use a lodge cast iron combo cooker. The pan is what the bread sits in and the pot works as the lid to capture steam.
Once it’s been heated, remove the cast iron pan, flour it well and tip in the dough. Brush the dough with some water and sprinkle over some oats. Make a few slashes in the top to allow steam to escape.
Place on the lid and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes more until browned to your liking.
Allow the bread to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.
Just an example, I’ll show you my timings and how I fit my bread into my day:
Between 8-9am: Feed my starter
Between 1-2pm: Start Autolyse
Between 2-3pm: Add in starter, salt + honey.
Between 3-7pm: Coil folds
Between 7-10pm: Bulk ferment and final shape.
Next day 7am Bake.
Honey Oat Sourdough
- Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker or Dutch Oven
- 100 grams organic wholmeal flour finely milled. See notes in post on flours
- 200 grams high-grade white flour
- 50 grams rolled oats
- 280 grams water
- 2 tbsp liquid honey (solid honey can be melted and left to slighly cool)
- 1 tsp salt
- 140 grams active sourdough starter (at 100% hydration) See notes on starter in post
- rolled oats for topping
- In a large bowl combine the flour, oats and water into a shaggy, sticky dough and let it sit for 1-3 hours to hydrate.
- Add in the sourdough starter, liquid honey and the salt and combine together using wet hands, into a sticky dough. Tip in a flat glass or ceramic dish and leave it to relax for 15 minutes.
- Over the next three hours, stretch and fold this dough every 30 minutes, using a coil fold (see video.) Always use wet hands. It is normal for your dough to stretch back out after each fold.
- Now leave the dough on the bench to sit for another 1-4 hours until it has bulked out by 50%.
- Line a banneton basket (or other bowl) with a towel and flour it well.
- Tip your dough out carefully on a floured work surface and gently form it into a rectangle. Take care at this shaping stage to not squash the dough too much and lose all the gases that have been forming.
- Watch the short video above on shaping to see how to shape as written instructions are very hard to decipher. I have tried to explain them here:
- Take the bottom third of the dough and fold it up so it meets the middle. Take the right bottom side of the dough and fold it to meet the middle. Then take the left bottom side of the dough and fold it to meet the middle. Then take the top third of the dough and bring it down to meet the bottom. Now you have a sort of ball shape. Now you can stitch it grabbing a little bit of dough from the top left and a little from the top right and bring them together to meet in the middle. Carry on doing this down the length of the dough. When you get the bottom, grab a flap of dough and carry it up over top of the stitched dough to meet at the top. This will again create a sort of ball. Now gently grab this ball and roll it gently towards you on the bench. This will create some surface tension. All the while, take care not to de-gas your dough too much. Place in the floured bowel or basket, smooth side down.
- Cover with a clean towel and refrigerator for 8-20 hours.
- On baking day, heat the oven and a lodge cast iron combo cooker or similar dutch oven to 230 degrees Celsius (446 F)
- Flour the bottom of the pot well. (If your dutch oven has high sides, use a long sheet of baking paper instead to lift the dough in and out of withour burning yourself.) Flip the dough carefully out of the basket and brush it with some water. Sprinkle over the oats.
- Score the dough using a razor blade or very sharp knife.
- Bake in the pot covered with the lid for 18-20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes more depending on your preference.
- Let the sourdough cool before slicing.