close up oatsThe cold weather is drawing me instinctively towards comfort food and a love for my porridge. Oats are very versatile and adding them to sourdough changes the texture and flavour of your loaf.  The crumb is softer, and slightly moister, and the oats add a gentle flavour. Nutritionally whole oats are an excellent source of fibre, protein and vitamin E and have a specific kind of fibre referred to as beta-glucan, which is effective in lowering cholesterol.

How to stretch and fold sourdough from Vanessa Kimbell on Vimeo.

I teach this bread in the winter and use old-fashioned rolled oats that are processed by chopping and steaming.  They are then rolled to give them their flatter shape and they work well blending into the dough in bread making.

Oats are also gluten free (although the odd grain of wheat is present in all oats), but that is not to say that they don’t have protein in them. They have about 17% protein. A straight substitution of 20 or 30% of your flour will give you a lower gluten dough, which can be quite a challenge to handle, so in this recipe I have used the oats as part of the preferment (levain) and as a decoration to get the best of all possible worlds.

Yield 2 x large loaves or 1 huge one

Recommended equipment: 



Main dough:


Step 1 Make your levain

8am Friday morning.

Make your levain by mixing the starter, flour, water and rolled oats together.

Step 2 Mix (Friday evening About 6pm)

Whisk the 650g of water and levain in a bowl and mix well. Add the flour and salt (combine well) and then mix until all the ingredients come together into a large ball.

Step 3 1st Ferment

Cover you dough with a damp cloth or dinner plate and let the dough rest in a cool environment for 30 minutes.

Step 4 Fold (6:30pm)

This dough does not need kneading.  The long slow fermentation helps align the dough, but to give it structure you need to lift and fold your dough over, do a quarter turn of your bowl and repeat three more times. Over the next hour lift and fold your dough three times.

Step 5 Shape (7:30pm)

Shaping your dough gives the bread a good crust. Shape lightly into a boule and place into a dusted banneton that has been scatted with oats. Cover with a shower cap or damp cloth and leave to prove in the fridge overnight.

Step 6 Bake (8am)

There is no need to leave your bread out of the fridge for very long. Take it out in the morning as you preheat the oven to 220℃ containing your La Cloche to allow it to get very hot.

Take the La Cloche out of the oven and sprinkle a little flour over the bottom. Be careful not to burn yourself.  I recommend using one of these oven gloves when handling the cloche.

Turn your bread out into the La cloche and slash the top of your bread using a grignette (or lame) with quick strokes and then place the lid back on top and return to the oven as quickly as possible. Bake for 45 minutes.

Turn the heat down to 190℃. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 – 20  minutes.  You need to judge how dark you like your crust but I suggest that you bake it until you have a dark brown crust – it tastes better, but be careful not to catch the oats.

Let the bread cool


Store: Sourdough bread needs to cool completely and is then best store in a bread bag.

Note: if you like a softer crust then wrap your bread in a clean tea towel whilst it is still warm.


* 1:1 starter made up with a 1:1 ratio of water to flour (i.e. 100g of water per 100g of flour).