The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

multigrain sourdough hodgepodge

MommaT's picture

multigrain sourdough hodgepodge


I've been experimenting with several recipes to find that elusive combination of healthful grains and light enough texture for the kids (and the hubby).  I stumbled upon a combination recipe that seems to be working and wanted to share.

My husband is very picky about multigrain breads.  He wants the health benefits, but doesn't want that crunchy grainy feel.  He often finds my multigrain breads too dry.  The other day, quite by accident, I stumbled upon a solution that he'd like to see as our "daily bread".

How to start?...

Much to my experimenter's chagrin, my family love Leader's Classic Country style Hearth Loaf from "Bread Alone".  This is his learning loaf and it is a very good, easy to succeed at loaf.  Twist #1:  I usually make it in two loaf pans so that it is easier to use for lunchbox sandwiches.  My family love it.  My 7 y.o. son and husband both say it reminds them of the wheat bread we used to buy at our local store in Cape Town, South Africa, where we lived until recently.  They like to call it my "South African Bread".  

Twist #2:  I decided on a whim to make this bread by replacing the poolish with an equal weight of 100% hydration sourdough starter.  My starter has a pretty balanced flavor and isn't too sour, so this results in a wonderful tasting bread that is moist and has keeping power.

OK - so after receiving BBA for Christmas, I decided to try out the Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire recipe and mix up the soaker.  Instead of the rolled oats and wheat bran, I substituted an equal amount of Bob's Red Mill 6 grain cereal.  The next morning, I forgot which recipe I was following (had packed away the books the night before) and had to quickly mix up the dough and get out of the house.  I mixed my old standby (see above) and added in the soaker.  No change to the recipe for the Country style Hearth Loaf, save using a bit more flour than I normally do.  Voila! Twist #3.  I was so skeptical, but happily surprised when DH proclaimed this "the best bread yet"!   I have since made this many times with the same positive result, even varying the soaker ingredients.  

I've yet to try it with another bread dough recipe, so I don't know if this technique of just adding the soaker to any old loaf will work, but the results here were so positive I am definitely going to give it a try!

I only wish I were a better photographer - today's loaves turned out beautifully...not only did the starter respond beautifully in the sunny kitchen, but I'm learning to tame my lame, so the slashing worked well and looked good.



Marni's picture

Your type of experimenting is just my style.  It's so much fun, I love seeing what will come out of the oven.  The only problem is replicating some experiments exactly, but then another new trial can be made!  My family reacts the same way to most breads with "things" in it.  I really have to try a soaker.  Thanks for sharing your ideas, I'm so glad your family liked it!


Edthebread's picture

Hi MommaT

Your breadmaking approach seems quite like mine - I start with a recipe but then get carried away with all the good whole grains I can add to 'improve' it!

I've been experimenting with soakers ever since I bought Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain Bread book - which uses this technique in all the recipies.  The soaker really makes a huge difference to any bread - it takes away the slight bitterness that wholewheat can bring and there is a natural sweetness that comes through to really enhance the wholegrain flavour.  I'd had good results making a soaker with oats and barley with a little wholemeal flour, then combining that with a sourdough starter.  In the morning you mix them together and add a fair amount more yeast, and you have a great loaf by lunchtime.

hullaf's picture

MommaT, I like your idea of substituting the sourdough starter for the poolish, and your "twist #3" sounds so good, too. Like you and many others, I tend to 'tweak' the recipes to what I have available or to get more nourishment into the family by using more soakers to soften, and multi-grains to add flavor. 

By the way, I've had success with Leader's "Coarse-Grain Norwegian Farm Loaf" from that same book.     Anet

Aprea's picture

It sounds very interesting - could you share the recipe from start to finish?  I too have BBA, but not Bread Alone, so I cannot figure out your unique formula.  I have 4 kids 13 and under and desperately need an everyday healthy sandwich bread - they are currently mad for my BBA sourdough mixed with a little rye.


Thank you - Anna