The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie Q on Hydration and Additions: Flax, oat, wheat germ, wheat bran, polenta

emily_mb's picture

Newbie Q on Hydration and Additions: Flax, oat, wheat germ, wheat bran, polenta

I am a newbie who loves to experiment.  From my reading and experimentation I have learned that successful breads roughly have a 3 to 1 ratio of flour to liquid.  And that dough can tolerate a certain amount of "additions" such as nuts, raisins, sundried tomatoes, etc.  Most recipes that call for additions have 1 to 2 Tbs. per cup of flour.  So, my question is. which of these things function as flour (have to be counted towards the hydration) and which ones are additions? 

  1. flax seed meal
  2. rolled oats
  3. steel cut oats
  4. fine ground cornmeal
  5. coarse cornmeal
  6. cooked brown rice
  7. toasted wheat germ
  8. toasted wheat bran
  9. cracked wheat
  10. bulgar wheat
  11. all seeds are "addition"?
  12. all nuts are "addition"?

 Also, can anyone provide guidance on incorporating Greek yogurt in recipes? I want most of my breads to be high protein and high fiber.  THANK YOU.

subfuscpersona's picture

none of the above

emily_mb's picture

They won't work as flour with respect to yeast, gluten and so on.  But, some of the ingredients (such as flax seed meal) may absorve water that is needed by the flour.  If so, for the dough to not be too dry, I would have to compensate by adding more water.  Or maybe the flour absorves water more rapidly and I don't have to worry about it?

rayel's picture

Hi Emily, your excellent questions are answered in Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.

I make yogurt bread (2 recipes) regularly from this book. One is a straight dough the other from a sponge. I use organic yogurt which is not quite as thick as greek yogurt, but the greek yogurt has been used for these recipes with great results, by one of the posters on TFL. Check the search engine for her results

Hope this helps,  Ray

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Feel free to worry, that's what soakers are all about.  The seeds and other absorbant ingredients are soaked in a liquid until they absorb no more or very little and allowed to drain.  This prior handling of "non-flours" gives the flour a chance to absorb the available water when everything is mixed together. 

The flour and water (dough) can also be mixed up first and allowed to stand for 20-30 minutes (Autolyse) so that gluten can form its bonds before the seeds are added.  Then when the seeds absorb moisture, the gluten will have already developed and suffer less as the moisture moves to the seeds. 



008cats's picture

...especially with things that require long cook-times in other recipes, like wheat berries or steel cut oats, as I suspect they could continue to take water in (and away from the flour) during baking. I think that would not only throw your hydration off, but that your crumb could be ruined with this uneven moisture distribution within the loaf.

That said, I do sometimes count rolled oats, spelt flakes or corn meal (even coarse) into my TFW when I am bored with exacting measurements (I am an artist by trade). Not a huge percentage of the total, just a bit. It makes for a nice variation and I've never had a bad surprise.

emily_mb's picture

Thank you!  I will look for the book.  I'm now buried in a few others.

Something that I have not found yet is a description of how breads differ as a reult of the various starters.  For instance, you go from chef to levain, form levain to sponge.  But, you can skip the chef.  Or, you could use a poolish, which I understand to be a wetter form introduced in France by Polish bakers.  Or, you could use a biga (Italian).  And, the biga could be made with durum wheat or with white, or with whole wheat.  Actually, I guess all could be made with various wheats.  Fun! Fun! Fun!  But, I haven't yet figured out how the end products of breads started with a chef, a levain, a poolish, or a biga will differ--assuming other things being equal.  Anyone? 

This new world is fun -- so simple AND so incredibly complex!  And, I am so full of questions.  Some I could answer myself by experimenting.  But with guidance I hope to avoid baking too many rocks and having to quit my job so I can bake bread.  I'm sure others have already done that. 

I am still trying to understand how it all plays out.  How much of non-flour "add-ons" a bread will tolerate.  (Please forgive my incredibly technical terms!) Will the tolerance be the same whether pre-soaked or not?  Some things I may not want to soak.  For instance, I found that I love a couple of Tbs. of unsoaked coarse cornmeal added to a 2.25 cup of flour bread.  It adds such an interesting crunch.

Thank you!