The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about the Multigrain Extraordinaire loaf from Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice

shauni_g's picture

Question about the Multigrain Extraordinaire loaf from Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice

Hi all,

I tried out my second recipe from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice on the weekend (an excellent book IMHO and thanks to the members of this website for putting me onto it), the multigrain extraordinaire loaf. The final loaves turned out reasonably well and taste great (although a little sweet for my liking). One interesting thing I noticed whilst I was making the dough however was that, despite the fact it is listed as a standard dough in the book in terms of wetness, once I had finished mixing all the ingredients together the dough was extremely wet. So much so that when I made the mistake of emptying it out onto the bench to attempt to knead it, all I ended up with was a sticky mess on the bench and all over my hands. After the addition of a fair amount of extra flour I was finally able to scrape enough together to put the dough back into the bowl and continue trying to knead it there using the "dough hook" method described in the book (whereby you turn the bowl in one direction and use a metal spoon like a dough hook to stir the dough in the other direction). About fifteen minutes later it had finally come together enough to turn out onto the bench again to continue kneading by hand. Despite this the dough was still rather sticky so I kept adding flour. Eventually it started to approach the mentioned goal in the book of a dough that is "tacky but not sticky" and it was ready to be left to rise.

After that there were no problems and, like I said, the final product was fine but I am just wondering if anyone else has tried this recipe and had the same sort of experience with the amount of flour in the recipe not being anywhere near enough? Unfortunately I kept adding flour about a handful at a time straight from the bag so I couldn't even hazard a guess exactly how much extra flour I ended up adding but it felt like quite a bit. It has got me a little worried now that if that was a standard dough what the wet doughs used for ciabattas and the pain a l'ancienne are going to be like!

Anyhow I'd love to hear anyone else's experience making this recipe if they've tried it.



bartwin's picture

I've had the same experience.  And I didn't keep track, either, of the amount of flour I added, but it was substantial.   Very good bread, however.


breadforfun's picture

Yes, the last time I made it I had to add about 100g additional flour during kneading.  I thought possibly that if my soaker ingredients were not fresh, they may not absorb all the additional water, but since others have had the same experience, maybe that is not an issue.  I also agree that it is a bit too sweet, but the texture and the taste are otherwise excellent.

shauni_g's picture

Thanks guys for your responses. It is reassuring to hear that others had the same experience. My thoughts were that possibly I added a bit too much water to the soaker (I added a little more as the 1/4 cup it called for didn't cover the grains like it said it should) and/or that perhaps the type of brown rice I used (a brown basmati) may have soaked up more water than a regular brown rice might.

Agreed with both of you that despite this unexpected hurdle it does produce an excellent loaf!

hanseata's picture

I had the same experience - I reduced the amount of water quite a bit, but haven't come up with the perfect amount, yet.

Many of Peter Reinhart's breads (except the 100% whole wheat ones) are a bit too sweet for my taste. I reduced the sweetener to just 19 g of either honey or brown sugar. Also, the amount of instant yeast can be less -  6 g (instead of 9 g) is perfectly sufficient.

 I haven't made this very good tasting bread lately, but what I would do next time is:

Making the soaker, but using the stretch and fold technique from Reinhart's "Artisan Breads Everyday" with overnight fermentation. You can control the water amount easier, adding it slowly to the bowl just until you achieve the "still somewhat sticky" stage (with S & F the dough should be a little more hydrated than just tacky).


jcking's picture

I thought I was the only one. I find in most of his formulas I need to hold back some of the water. I was thinking his flour must be of a higher protein level that can hold more water, or maybe a stronger initial mix.


David White's picture
David White

I've tried this recipe straight from the book, and also tried a version with 1/3 whole wheat flour as a healthier option.  Either way, the dough always comes out far too sticky to work by hand, which is my preferred option.  So glad to know I'm not alone with this problem here....

andrew544's picture

This is one of my favorite breads. I, too, always thought that the BBA formula had too much water and would adjust accordingly. I do admit to tinkering with the formula but mainly in the ratio of bread flour to a whole wheat flour. My problem is that the loaf does not rise as well as it used to. Formerly the loaf would crest 3/4 to 1 inch above the rim of a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Lately the loaf barely rises to the rim of the loaf pan. I use SAF instant yeast which I keep in the freezer. Can the yeastbe losing it's potency?

golfermd's picture

Maria (my partner) loves this bread.