The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole-Wheat Bread With a Multigrain Soaker

Recluse's picture

Whole-Wheat Bread With a Multigrain Soaker

My first time baking a recipe from Hamelman's Bread. I was a little bit intimidated, especially since I've had mediocre results with the few BBA recipes I've tried, and that's widely regarded as the better intro book for the home baker. I'm fairly certain that my lack of success stemmed, not from a problem in the recipes or instructions, but from mistakes that I made due to being totally distracted by all of the gorgeous photographs. And subbing ingredients. I get in more trouble that way...

In any case, after reading through the first part of Hamelman's book, and poring over the instructions a few times, I did manage to successfully follow the recipe. The only thing I did differently was to swap out cracked wheat for flax seeds, since I didn't feel like running to the store for one measly ingredient.  Flax seeds were on the list of acceptable substitutions, so really, I as good as followed the recipe, right? That's what I'm telling myself.

This was also the inauguration of my kitchen scale as a baking assistant. It has been my faithful weight-loss tool for a number of months. I have no idea why it took me so long to use it for this second purpose, as it was an almost magical experience, not having to add an extra cup of flour, or half cup of water, to get my dough the correct consistency. Everything came together in a dough that was a bit tacky, but still very manageable, and I didn't have to tinker with it at all. I feel like I never want to measure by volume again.

Same dough, three different loaves.

I made two 1.5 lb loaves: One round loaf to practice my slashing (I am getting better, ever so slowly), and one pan loaf, because sandwiches rock my world. The approximately 1 lb of dough left I used to make a smaller loaf, which I took in to work. My coworkers happily devoured it, so I guess it turned out just fine. 

Round loaf

The loaves didn't rise quite as much as I expected. I'm not sure if that's because I didn't develop the gluten enough, didn't proof long enough, or if I just had unrealistic expectations for this kind of loaf. In any case, the texture was not at all off-putting or brick-like, and the flavor was excellent. The last few times I've made non-sourdough bread, I was disappointed by the flat flavors that I got, but there was no such problem with this loaf. I happily ate a slice of it plain, and then made a killer tuna salad sandwich with it. I loved the little pops of texture that the grains contributed, and the crackly, toasty crust.

Crumb shot

(Please pardon my taken-with-a-cellphone photographs.)

I still have a lot to learn, but for now I'm content, because this is some of the best bread that I've made to date. Although if anyone has suggestions that might help make my next batch even better, I'm all ears!


LindyD's picture

Very nice looking breads, Recluse.  

A scale makes a world of difference - as does great instruction.

You're on your way and my only suggestion is to keep reading Bread and baking from it.  

Well done!

Recluse's picture

Thanks LindyD!

There's a wealth of information in that book, and I'm looking forward to using it as much as possible.

janij's picture

That is my favorite formula in that book because it can be made 100 different ways.  Very nice looking loves.

Recluse's picture

I definitely liked that there were a number of alternative grains listed; it's a great way to use up whatever's in the cupboard. 

dmsnyder's picture

Those multi-grain breads make great sandwiches and great toast, too.

The seeds do tend to cut the gluten strands. To get the best rise and the lightest crumb, develop the gluten fully before adding the seeds. Then, mix in the seeds gently on low speed. 

Sometimes, when I'm adding solid stuff like seeds or nuts to a dough, I'll knead them in by hand, even if I've mixed the dough in a machine. My technique is:

1. Almost fully develop the gluten in the machine.

2. Dump the dough on a lightly floured board and let it relax for 5-15 minutes (covered).

3. Stretch the dough out into a large rectangle (without tearing it!).

4. Sprinkle the seeds/nuts all over the stretched dough.

5. Do a series of stretch and folds to distribute the solids.

6. Proceed with bulk fermentation, etc.


Recluse's picture

I will definitely have to try doing it your way, and see how it turns out differently. I've only recently started realizing how the same ingredients can, with different techniques, make very different breads. It's fascinating!