The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What things can I add to my wheat bread without otherwise altering the recipe?

svirden's picture

What things can I add to my wheat bread without otherwise altering the recipe?

I have a regular wheat bread recipe that I like. I'm not a skilled baker, but this works well for me.

Last week I bought a fabulous nutty/seedy bakery loaf that has a plethora of yummy stuff. So I kept the sticker that lists those things, with the idea that I'd alter my own wheat bread recipe by adding them, thereby semi-recreating the yummy bakery loaf.

Will it work? For a 3-loaf recipe, how much of each can I use? Do I need to adjust the standard recipe to accomodate the additions? Sure seems like I'd have to add more fat or liquid.

Here is what I have:

  • cracked wheat
  • bulgur
  • millet
  • pumpkin seeds
  • flax seeds
  • sunflower seeds

Would appreciate your thoughts!



Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

You could add just about any of those things. Start with must one or two. I would try the flax and millet myself, or add a little cracked wheat along with. Maybe 2 tbsps of each per loaf? I would soak them in some of the liquid for about 30 minutes to an hour at least, if not overnight. BTW, cracked wheat and bulger are pretty much the same thing.

Sesame seeds are really good too. I like a mixture of sesame, flax and millet or cracked wheat in my loaves to a total of about 1/2 cup per loaf. You can subtract from your flour this amount of dry or just see how the dough feels as you work it. Soak in some of the liquid.

You might just try finding a recipe to do the same thing. Check out some of Peter Rinehart's recipes in his Whole grains cooking book. What you are trying to make is basically his Straun bread. He has you make a mixture of seeds (your choice of three) His method of using a biga and a soaker are really amazing when it comes to making a wholegrain bread. I just baked two whole wheat sandwich loaves this afternoon and they are soft, open-crumb and not dense at all. You would never know that they were made with ultra-course 100% stone-ground whole wheat flour.

Have fun and enjoy!

chayarivka's picture

Soaking is the way to go for the grains, but I like toasting the sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds first, and adding them in. It enriches the flavor. Untoasted they are more about texture alone. Flax seeds shouldn't be soaked unless you want the gel-like state of the soaking liquid added to the bread. Just throw them in untoasted. The bulgur/cracked wheat don't need too much soaking time but the millet might need several hours to overnight. Not sure how big your three loaves are, but I guess you "might" get away with maximum 1/4 cup soaked grains to every 2.5 cups flour without changing the recipe. Jeffrey Hamelman's book BREAD, which I learned about from a fellow loafer here in the forums, is very helpful and exacting if you want to understand the science of moisture, ingredients, etc.

spsq's picture

toasting flax seeds make them taste awesome!  Plus, in order to get their nutrition, those in the know recommend cracking them - whirl them through a magic bullet or old coffee grinder.

chayarivka's picture


Toasting flax seeds destroys the EFAs. So does baking them. Grinding them is fine but then you must refrigerate the ground seeds. If you go to the health food store you will see ground flax seeds in airtight packages which must be refrigerated after opening, and flax seed oil (which, like the ground seeds contains all the EFAs) that also must be refrigerated.

You can bake them, but again, you won't get the EFAs-they are destroyed by heat. However, the main thing you get form baking them is fiber which is also important. A great cracker is 100 percent soaked flax seeds (soak for 8 hours or more) mixed with any seasoning (any herb mixture is nice). Spread out the flax seeds very thinly (the water will have turned into a gloppy gel--use the seeds and the gel) and either dehydrate or bake in a very low oven --150-200 is great for several hours. If you do them at a low enough temperature in a dehydrator you will get the EFA benefits.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with respect to timing.  Stick to the proofing times you have been using without the seeds.  The dough may not rise nearly as high with all that extra weight so be careful not to overproof.  The loaf will however take longer to bake with lots of seeds in there.


Matt H's picture
Matt H

The better question, is there anything I CAN'T put in my bread. Too much of anything will disrupt the gluten network and result in a heavy brick without all the lovely air pockets. That said, sometimes it's fun to see how far you can push it and how crazy you can get.

  • nuts, seeds
  • other kinds of flour (use buckwheat sparingly!)
  • whole millet or sorghum
  • mashed potato or sweet potato
  • cheese!
  • bacon or prosciutto
  • chopped onions, garlic, chives, scallions...
  • cornmeal or corn kernels
  • raisins, dates, prunes...
  • spices: cinnamon, saffron, citrus zest...
  • carrots, yams, turnips...
  • broccoli

OK, I've never heard of or seen broccoli bread, but why not? :)



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it interferes with gluten structure.  Like stuff ground or grated down to crumbs or flour.  With the  chunky stuff, the dough just wraps around it.  Keep a look out for sharp surfaces that can cut gluten strands, these ingredients work better when softened or cooked first, not always -- have to use your own judgement.  Some spices tend to slow down yeast (many of them grow in or on trees) and work better sprinkled on the outside of the dough and rolled up as opposed to mixing into the dough.  Roots should be cooked on the outsides first before adding grated or mashed into the dough to reduce invasion of a very nasty "rope" outbreak.

My rule of thumb for the maximum amount of additions added is not to add more than one third (total of everything that can be blended into the dough) and 7/8  is the limit of whole stuff that doesn't absorb moisture from the dough as it gets wrapped around, check out fruit cakes or vollkornbrot to compare,  a little dough and lots of fruit or grain berries. 

With the stuff that blends, soak and drain or add moisture to the ingedient  (say nut flour or crumbs) until tender or you can press them together to hold a shape.  Too much moisture is not good (end up with a runny dough when added) and too little (sucks up dough moisture when added) makes the dough drier.  Ingredients like nuts add oil to the surrounding dough.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

OK, I've never heard of or seen broccoli bread, but why not? :)

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family.  I have heard of stuffing bread with sourkraut and where is an eggroll without cabbage?   (Is an eggroll a bread? it certainly is a flour based dough....)   If the bread is eaten in a short time, why not?

svirden's picture

OK folks, you are all awesome. But I have a confession to make: As the original poster to this thread, I didn't actually wait for a response because I was already mid-recipe and discovered that I was completely out of wheat flour for the 3-loaf wheat bread recipe I was about to make.

And so I was forced to improvise. Instead of 4 cups each of white and wheat, I used 4 cups of white, 2 cups of rye, 1-1/2 cups of oats, and probably ended up kneading in another full cup of white flour.

As for the six ingredients I listed (sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds + bulgur, cracked wheat and millet), I just threw in a half cup of each. YIKES! It was such a solid mass, I could hardly knead it, and I wasn't even certain it was rising. I cringed as I read your responses coming in, all while bread was rising and baking. (I didn't soak ANYthing first, and I included way more than you suggested). I thought for sure I'd made a crunchy inedible brick, but NO! It was marvelous and rose beautifully! Granted, every piece of toast is really HEAVY, but four adults (even the one who claims not to like "gravelly" bread) agreed it was fantastic. A happy mistake. It would even make good sandwich bread, but we've been devouring it as toast or buttered hunks with seafood chowder. It did began to dry sooner than usual, however. Maybe more fat to the recipe?

Given all this, I'd appreciate any further comments you have on the subject! And thanks again!