The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Five-grain levain

MadAboutB8's picture

I came across burghul (also known as bulghur) at the grocery section of Oasis Bakery. The name was really familiar and I remembered vaguely from the bread-making book that it was grain. So, I bought a one small tub hoping to try using it with the grain-bread, and the Jeffrey Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain is on my agenda. 

I did some research on Google about burghul in bread as well as flipping through my bread making cookbook (Reinhart's and Hamelman's). I didn't find much of useful information (must I say, it's almost ZERO information).

As it turned out, burghul is widely known more as bulghur than burghul. When I did searches on bulghur, it now returned a large amount of relevant and useful information. However, I only did this after I finished with my bake and was very curious about this grain.  Which, I will now refer to this grain as "bulghur". So, I baked with bulghur without having enough information on how to handle it correctly.  In fact, there are useful discussions about bulghur in The Fresh Loaf specifically for Hamelman's Five Grain Levain bread, the bread I was working on. Had I searched The Fresh Loaf about the bulghur (not burghul, sorry if this sounds confusing), I would have had enough valuable information to work with. Why didn't I do that, I will never know.

I substituted cracked rye in the recipe with bulghur and keep it as hot soaker (i.e. soaking grains and seeds by hot water for 12-16 hours) as I figured that I should treat bulghur as cracked wheat.  In fact, if you want to keep its slight crunchy texture, you should soak it in the cold water instead. And it's what I should have done. 

However, hot soaker also worked fine. But I just prefer the bulghur not to be mushy and blend into the bread like it was with the hot soaker.

Given that a lot of water was absorbed into bulghur (with hot soaker), the dough felt stiff, yet sticky. I had to add about 2 tablespoons more water to adjust the dough consistency. Again, I believe the stickiness might have come from mushy bulghur. If I am going to make bread with bulghur again, I would definitely soak it in cold water as I believe it will give a nicer texture and easier when it comes to dough handling.

The bread is very moist and a little dense. I found the crumb is also tighter than my previous  five-grain levain bake. I think that the cooked and mushy burghul played the part in the tighter crumbs. The grain flavour seems to be dominated by sunflower seeds in the grain mix. Its aroma came through every time I bit into the bread, which is really nice.  The bread also has nice texture from the flaxseeds and sunflower seeds. I couldn't taste the bulghur but it definitely added texture, moisture and chewiness to the bread.

All in all, this bread is my all-time favourite. It never disappoints. It is full of flavour an texture, not to mention its goodness from the wholegrain. Highly recommend for the multi-grain bread lover.


For more details and recipe you can follow the below link:



bakerwendy's picture

I haven't posted in a while but I have been baking. This weekend I made Hamelman's Five-grain levain. The only changes I made was to use whole rye berries as opposed to rye chops and also pumpkin seeds in place of the sunflower seeds. I didn't realize I was out until it was to late. I baked one of the loaves on the day the mixed the dough and put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator overnight. I wanted to compare the flavor and texture the cold fermentation had on the dough. I also had to try the Meteils au Bleu after reading Pamela's "The Saga of the Little Meteils au Bleu." They turned out great. I was proud of the sourdough because the loaves had great oven spring. I also was able to find the bleu d'Auvergne. The blue cheese that was recommended for this bread. Oh MY! This is some funky cheese. Not just a few little strips of mold in this cheese but globs of furry gooey mold! The bread turned out delicious. I have also been working on baguettes. I will try to post my results soon. Here are a few pictures of the spoils.

5 Grain Whole Bread 4/11/09

5 Grain Levain baked day of mixing dough


Crumb of 5 Grain Levain baked day of mixing


5 Grain Levain after cold retardation


Crumb of boule 

Meteils au Bleu 4/12/909

Meteils au Bleu


Insides. Soooo good

fleur-de-liz's picture

Eric: Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain

February 6, 2008 - 8:23am -- fleur-de-liz

At Eric's request, here is Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain.

As an introduction, Hamelman describes this recipe as "one of the most delectable table breads I have ever eaten."

Pre-ferment flour: 25%

Dough Yield (home): 3 medium loaves

Five-Grain Levain

Liquid Levain build:

8 oz bread flour (all purpose flour in the mid 11% protein range)

10 oz water

1.6 oz mature culture liquid (Hamelman uses a liquid culture of 125% hydration)

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