The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bob's Red Mill Cereal

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Bob's Red Mill Cereal

I picked up a bag of Bob's Red Mill 5-Grain Cereal (oats, wheat, barely, flaxseed, etc.) at the store today, thinking I would add it to some dough for a bit of texture and taste.  Now that I have it home, I'm wondering, should I just add a bit of it as is, in place of the flour, or should I make a soaker with it?  I've made one recipe with a soaker and have just begun substituting rye or whole wheat for the bread flour in recipes, so this is kind of new to me.  Any thoughts?

Stringbean42's picture
Stringbean42

I've gotten the best taste and texture from whole-grains by using a soaker. Just remember, the goal is not to ferment the grains, but to soften them up so you get a better texture (i.e.:less dense/"grainy") in the final loaf, so add less water than you would for, say, a poolish or another pre-ferment.

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

Soaking whole grains is definitely the way to go.  For any whole or cracked grains I cover with boiling water and allow to set overnight, sometimes I even give it a little blast in the microwave to precook.  It improves the flavour and helps prevent those tooth breaking hard grains on the outside of the loaf.  Then I just use my regular recipe. After a bit of experience you probably won't need to hold back any water but it's a good idea to do so in the beginning. If I'm adding a lot of grains I up the salt a little bit.


Liz

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Thanks, Liz and bean.  Sounds like a soaker is the way to go.  I'll start experimenting and see how it goes.

MommaT's picture
MommaT

I've been using this particular cereal in my multigrain breads and have been very happy with the flavor.  


I'd concur with Liz - I always use hot water, even though some of these grains can soak with cold water.  And I always up the salt.


In addition, when using rugged cereals like these in my multigrain, I usually counter balance that with some less 'chunky' grains, e.g., coarse cornmeal.  I just find that things come together better and my final crumb has less tendency to crumble after a day.


Enjoy!


 


MommaT

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

So, do I understand correctly that I should hold back a little water at first, but not adjust the amount of my flour?  I'm going to add the cereal grains to my Basic Sourdough (Reinhart's BBA recipe).  I bake this bread every weekend, so I'll be able to evaluate the effect the grains have on my loaf better than if I used a new recipe.  But I'm still wondering about the flour....

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hello gaarp,


I read this thread with interest because I too have begun experimenting with soakers. Since I'm just as new to it as you, take my information liberally salted.


I think if you add a soaker to a recipe you are familiar with, the water in the soaker will change the hydration level enough that you will have to make some sort of adjustment: less water than the recipe normally calls for, or more flour than the recipe calls for.


I am compounding my uncertainties as I am baking rye bread with the added soaker, and am just as new to rye! :-0 But it's working, so why not? In both cases so far I have had to add some flour to make up for the extra hydration provided by the soaker, even though it looked as if all the water was absorbed into the grain (rye chops + sunflower seeds for the first loaf, rye and wheat chops for the second).


I'm hoping we can continue this thread with some kind of quantitative analysis on the subject. Please post the results of your Basic Sourdough with Soaker!


David

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

David,


I'm going to make this tomorrow or Sunday, so I'll have an answer soon enough.  I think that initially I will omit an amount of water equal to what I put in the soaker, and add more as necessary.  I know it's easier to add flour than water, but it will be easier for me to keep track of how much water I add than it would be if I kneaded in flour.


Phyl

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I am sitting here enjoying my first sourdough made with a Bob's Red Mill 5-Grain Cereal soaker.  Taking the suggestions above, I altered my normal sourdough (BBA Basic Sourdough recipe) as follows:



  • I made a soaker using 1 cup of Bob's 5-grain and 3/4 cup boiling water, which I covered and let sit for 4 hours

  • I increased the salt in the recipe from 0.5 oz to 0.7 oz

  • I cut the water in the dough to 1 cup.  The original recipe calls for up to 1 3/4 cups water (I usually use this amount); so I basically divided my water between the soaker and the dough.

  • I added the soaker to my dough along with the sourdough starter


So, how did it come out?  I have been munching on the bread since it cooled and have found it quite enjoyable.  It has a great flavor, and the crust is as per my normal sourdough.  The crumb is not as open as usual, so perhaps more water is called for next time.  Also, I think I'll cut back the salt just a little bit, maybe to 0.6 oz.  And I might use a bit more cereal next time, too.  It has a great flavor, but the cereal isn't as visible in the crumb as I expected.


Overall, I'm quite pleased and consider this a successful experiment!  So, David, how did you fare?


Edit: (1/12/09) Here is a picture of the bread:


Sourdough with 5-Grain Soaker


This was a 65% hydration dough.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Phyl,


Glad to hear your bread turned out well! Also glad you followed up with your latest post on the subject.


I am still experimentating, so nothing I say has terra firma under its feet. That never stopped me before from putting my 2 cents in, so why hold back now?


The flavor and texture of bread with soakers both change, I am finding. If I read you right, you used the same total volume of water you usually use, including the soaker, but also had 1 cup of BRM 5-grain in the mix. I would expect that to yield a somewhat denser and drier loaf, as some of the water would simply hydrate the extra grain, and wouldn't be available to the flour.


In looking at my bread-baking books I find nothing definitive about the way soaker-grain weight alters total-water weight in formulas. Hamelman gives very specific recipes whose soakers alter the total hydration level significantly, but no generalizations about the final water adjustment soakers require. In one recipe the hydration level goes up to 75% and in another it's around 98%, if I recall correctly. This suggests to me that the nature of each soaker is unique and therefore generalization isn't going to be easy. :-(


About my own latest soaker adventure: I made another rye bread, with a different approach. The previous rye bake was like an ordinary sourdough bread, where the final flour total included 40% whole rye. It also included a soaker of sunflower seeds and medium-ground rye berries. That bread was a big hit!


Attempt #2, I decided to try a higher percentage of rye sourdough in the total dough. But I also changed my soaker, which consisted of a greater percentage of white wheat and rye berries that I processed in my grain mill using the coarsest setting. This bread came out very tasty, but quite different. The rye flavor is fuller, and the coarser and more plentiful grains are much more noticeable in the chew.


OK, finally, my modest proposal: if you want to continue baking with BRM 5-grain soakers, let's continue this thread (or create a new one, whatever). Make adjustments to the water you add to the dough, and let us know which provides the best result.


On a weekly basis, I will bake my original recipe rye bread (I still have my notes!) and make similar adjustments to the final water. The recipe calls for 68% total water, not including the soaker. The soaker grains are 23% of the total flour. With the soaker water added and no adjustment made, the total hydration jumps to 85%, which is too high. I propose to make the final water first 74%, then 77%, then 80% if need be, assuming the dough comes together properly. Somewhere in there I think I will hit a proper hydration level for this rye dough, and I would have a workable recipe!


What do you think?


David


 

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

David,


Sounds like a plan.  I'm all for continuing to experiment.  In fact, just before I read this post, I started another sourdough with a soaker.  This is the new sourdough starter I just created and blogged about (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10192/starting-starter-sourdough-101), so I'm not expecting a lot of sour flavor from it.


My wife requested a bread with sunflower seeds, so this soaker was made of 1/2 cup each sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and BRM5G with 3/4 cup boiling water.  I let it sit overnight.  For the final dough, I used the BBA basic sourdough recipe again, which calls for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water.  My dough yesterday was a bit stiff and, as I mentioned in the previous post, didn't have much in the way of holes.  So this time I added more water -- a total of 1 1/4 cups.  So, with the water in the soaker, that's a total of 2 cups.


It's autolysing at the moment.  I'll calculate the hydration and report on my progress as I move along.

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I added a picture of my first soaker attempt to one of my posts above.  Here is the Sunflower/Pumpkin Seed/5-Grain soaker referred to in the most recent post above:


Sunflower Sourdough


If I calculated correctly, this was a 73% hydration dough.  I say "if" because I included in the calculation all of the water and flour in both the starter and the dough, and the water in the soaker.  Reinhart calculates the hydration of his starter separately from the rest of the dough.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Nice job, Phyl! That bread looks gorgeous.


BTW I like your calculation. I like the total dough / total hydration calculations to reflect all the ingredients in the bread. That way others can make the necessary adjustments if they use a different hydration starter, for example.


I will provide some similar info when I get to baking my next 40% rye attempt.


Keep up the great work!


David

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Thanks, David.  I was really happy with this bread.  I still want to play around with soaker ingredients, hydration levels, etc.  If I get ambitious this weekend, maybe I'll post the recipe with my additions.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Lovely :-)


This sounds similar to Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain (p. 174), If you're looking for a comparison formula.


trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

That is a great looking loaf and crumb. I have been working problems on the Wild Yeast blog trying to get faster at calculating the % etc. Looking forward to exploring this new world soon. c

scottfsmith's picture
scottfsmith

I have also been using Bobs cereal to make whole-grain breads.  I don't have the 5-grain, only his 8-grain.  I also had a hard time getting the hydration correct. There is no perfect way to do that calculation.  You can't keep the grains and flour hydration separate because water can migrate from one to the other.  But if you put them together you don't know how hydrated your dough is.  My compromise has been to settle on around 100% as the approximate neutral hydration of the 8-grain cereal -- if it is 100% hydrated it neither adds nor takes away appreciable water from the dough.  Then I do the dough at whatever percent I want (usually 65-70% is where I am).  This calculation is not completely accurate and in the end I have relied on hand feel to correct the overall hydration, but its a good start.  Also this 100% I have used only for Bobs 8-grain and it may not be quite right for his 5-grain.  This is all by weight; I would strongly recommend throwing away your cups etc and switching to by weight.


Scott

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Scott, I don't use cup measurements for many things, generally only water, which has a constant weight.  I did use them for the grain and seed additions, just to get a feel for how much I was adding.  Since I was making it up on the fly, 1 cup of grains was no less arbitrary than, say, 150 grams would have been.


That said, I do like the idea of weighing the grains and using a 100% hydration soaker.  It might make it easier to get a feel for the overall hydration level of the dough.

whosinthekitchen's picture
whosinthekitchen

I am making a sourdough starter.   I want to grind the 5 grain cereal for flour to use to make the starter.  (Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain).

I have bread flour by Gold Medal and I have some Rye by Arowhead Mills.  I haven't found any comments on grinding the multi grain cereals for flour.

Thanks,

Lisa

 

whosinthekitchen's picture
whosinthekitchen

I am making a sourdough starter.   I want to grind the 5 grain cereal for flour to use to make the starter.  (Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain).

I have bread flour by Gold Medal and I have some Rye by Arowhead Mills.  I haven't found any comments on grinding the multi grain cereals for flour.

Thanks,

Lisa