The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can someone explain what a "soaker" is?

Pster's picture

Can someone explain what a "soaker" is?

I've read about people using "soakers" - what exactly is that?

How do I incorporate that into making the bread?  When do I add it?


and also....

*why* would I use a "soaker" or that method?


If you could tell me all about it - I'd appreciate it! 


LindyD's picture

If a recipe calls for using certain seeds or cracked/whole grains, they are soaked in water overnight or for a specific number of hours to soften them (so you don't break a tooth when you eat the bread).  The water is part of the total water used for the dough.

Sometimes the water is boiled, sometimes it's cold, depending on what's being soaked.

If you do a search using "five-grain" and "seeded," you'll find some previous posts on those breads, some with photos and the recipe.



SulaBlue's picture

It also helps develop the gluten in grains such as stone ground whole wheat and rye so that you don't get as dense of a loaf.

I thought if it was boiled that you were technically making a mash?

nhtom's picture

Soakers, as explained in Peter Reinhart's book, is a dough made with just liquid (water, milk, etc.) and whole grain.  You let is sit for 12 to 24 hours without yeast.  I understand its use to be an effort to free and activate enzymes that naturally occur in the grain.

You later combine it with another lump of dough that's been sitting with some sort of yeast starter.  Add oil, sweetener, salt and more flour, mix altogether and let rise.

I just recently started using soakers and the flavor is phenominal and has made for the lightest 100% whole wheat bread I've ever baked.