Simpler Sourdough: No Knead Honey-Oat Bread
Why make life more complicated than it is? Resist the temptation to make the sourdough process a hassle. It isn't. Humans have been using the sourdough process to make bread for thousands of years--yes, "artisan" bread in the true sense--producing loaves of some sort in limited quantities often using techniques that have been passed down through generations. The "artisan" bread you find in bakeries may consist of flour, water, salt, but it may have additional ingredients, and it probably is baked in a high-temperature commercial oven. Yes, the bakery bread often is beautiful, crusty brown, chewy, and filled with beautiful bubbly air pockets. Nonetheless, bakery bread is generally pretty expensive and doesn't always keep as well as what you can make at home. So, instead of going the bakery route, try your own sourdough. You don't need 15 pages of instructions or a lot of hands-on time. You won't get a loaf that looks like it came from the bakery. It didn't. It came from your oven, and that's good. You can adapt the bread to your tastes and needs--which is really what artisan bread baking is about.
The bread I'm offering you here isn't Instagram or Pinterest worthy. In fact, it's sort of ugly. Nonetheless, with whole grains and just a bit of honey, the bread has a nice mild, yeasty taste that leaves Wonder Bread in the dust. The homemade sourdough also slices well for sandwiches, and it's great with a slice of cheese or slathered with peanut butter or jam. Best of all, you can feed your starter, mix up the bread, put it in it's pan, and leave it alone all day until late afternoon or evening when you can pop it in the oven for dinner or breakfast the next day. For me, the ease and taste of the bread beat out appearance any day.
Simple Sourdough Honey-Oat Bread -- Makes 1 Loaf
1 cup of sourdough discard/starter
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of almond milk (or milk or water)
1/4 cup of canola oil
2 tablespoons of honey
2 cups of white whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to your taste)
1 cup of quick oats
Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the sourdough discard, water, and almond milk. Mix in the oil and honey until combined. Stir in the flour and salt. Add the oats and mix them in well. Keep stirring the mixture for a few minutes until everything is incorporated and the mixture is a little stretchy-looking. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spritz the top of the batter with cooking spray. Spritz a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place the wrap, sprayed side down, on top of the batter. Set the loaf pan aside for the day and let the batter rise for 6-10 hours (exactly how long will depend on the temperature of your room and the activity level of your starter). The batter should about double and just crest the top of the loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the bread for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden and the internal temperature is 190 degrees or more. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then turn it out to cool completely. The bread will slice easily once it's completely cooled, if you can wait that long.