Time: up to 24 hours; hands on time: 30 minutes.
Essential equipment for this recipe: 22cm x 8.5cm deep banneton prepared with rice flour; ovenproof pan with lid
I love adding an oat crust to loaves, the oats toast as the loaf bakes, and added to the beautiful flour, this produces a loaf full of flavour. You can use the method in this recipe to add oats to any of your loaves.
Step 1: In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the ingredients, except the oats, until you have a shaggy rough dough. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter for 1 hour.
Step 2: After an hour or so, perform the first set of pulls and folds; the dough will feel less stiff and you will be able to stretch the dough and bring it into a soft ball. Cover the bowl again and leave it on your counter.
Step 3: Over the next few hours, do 3 more sets of pulls and folds on the dough, stopping each time it comes into an easy ball, covering the dough after each set. Perform the final set before going to bed.
Step 4: Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C).
Step 5: In the morning, you should be greeted by a bowl full of grown dough. Put the oats into another medium sized bowl. Perform one last set of pulls and folds to form the dough into a nice ball. Lift the dough and place gently into the bowl of oats and carefully roll it around. Place the oat covered dough in the banneton oat side down. Sprinkle more oats down the sides and across the top. Cover the banneton and place it in the fridge for 3 to 24 hours.
Step 6: When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven, or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 425°F (220°C) convection or 450°F (230°C) conventional.
Remove the cover from the banneton, place the paper over the top of the banneton and the pan upside down over the top of them both. With one hand under the banneton and one on the pan, turn it all over together to turn the dough out of the banneton and into the pan. Score the dough; the oats will have softened, and by using a thin, sharp blade you will be able to cut cleanly through them.
If you preheated the oven, put the lid on and bake for 50 minutes. If using a cold start, place the pan with the dough into the oven, set the temperature as above and set the timer for 55 minutes.
After the baking time for either option, remove the covered pan from the oven. Open the lid to check the loaf. When you take the lid off, if you feel that your loaf or the oats are looking pale, place it back in the hot oven, in its pan, minus the lid, for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the loaf to the colour of your choice.
Step 7: Once baked, carefully remove the loaf from the pan, saving the parchment paper for next time, and allow the baked loaf to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. Save any toasted oats that have fallen off to add to soup, porridge or salads.
For more details, hints and tips, find Elaine at foodbodsourdough.com