The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Soaker benefits with whole grain?

Stu_NY's picture
Stu_NY

Soaker benefits with whole grain?

I am still pretty inexperienced baking bread but focused on making tasty whole grain loafs at this point. I am milling my hard red winter wheat berries with my Kitchenaid mill attachment.

I picked up Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Bread" book and have been working with that after some initial work with recipes on Breadtopia.com.

Peter seems to recommend using a soaker in the book and I have made a few of the recipes along with my sourdough starter that I have had going for about a month. The recipes are coming out good, and my wife and I have been enjoying the bread for sure. Today I decided to do a side by side comparison and baked his basic whole wheat hearth bread recipe, along with a pretty straightforward 90% hydration version of what I was making before based on the breadtopia site. I didn't add any of optional oil or honey from Peter's recipe so both could be as close as possible. I had also found that the oil and honey were making the bread a little more cake like in the crumb so have been eliminating them lately.

With the straight 90% recipe, I mixed the ingredients (I used my starter for both recipes), did a stretch and fold technique in the bowl, then let it sit out overnight. I followed Peter's recipe directly for the other.

I was surprised to find some big differences between the two, Peter's recipe produced a crumb that was kind of crumbly without much in the way of holes, while the 90% basic recipe got a better oven spring and had some nice holes and a chewier texture, cutting better and holding together better. Also I didn't get much of the sour taste I like with Peter's - the 90% recipe had a nice balance of sourness and seemed to have more "flavors" if that makes sense- less basic? In the attached photo Peter's recipe is the loaf on the bottom.

So am I missing something? The basic recipe is a lot easier to make and fits my baking schedule better... but there most be some benefit for the soaker I am missing vs just mixing everything at once for the fermentation over night?

Appreciate any advice on this!

thanks,

Stuart

charbono's picture
charbono

You have an interesting observation.   The purpose of Reinhart's soaker is to allow more amylase action, creating sugar.  It's supposed to be salted, so gluten is not degraded by protease.  If your results repeat, maybe that's why none of the recipes in that book are 100% sourdough.

 

Stu_NY's picture
Stu_NY

Meaning the sourdough is accomplishing the same thing but with the entire dough vs making a separate soaker? I did the same experiment yesterday but with his ABED recipe SF Sourdough. For comparison I made the same recipe above but instead of all hard red winter berries, I used 35% white winter wheat berries and 65% bread flour. His fermented in the fridge for 24 hours and my original recipe on the counter overnight. My basic recipe once again had better holes, crust and a true sourdough flavor, while the SF Sourdough was more cake like- angel food like almost- and tasted a lot like white bread. The SF recipe did rise higher in the oven. Both were made with my starter and with the SF recipe adding the yeast he recommends. So, it sounds like if I want to focus on Sourdough his work may not be the best for me to follow? Any other book recommendations that might be better for me to learn from?

Thanks,

Stuart

charbono's picture
charbono

In addition to Reinhart's WGB, I like The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. Together, they have just about all there is for whole grain baking. If you think you might want to do home milling, there's also Thom Leonard's The Bread Book.

 

Stu_NY's picture
Stu_NY

Thanks!

Stu_NY's picture
Stu_NY

Yes, I have read it and understand what he is going for. My question is in milling my own whole wheat- which he doesn't seem to do- does it impact the result? I did another soaker over the weekend on a recipe that normally only has a poolish and 30min autolyse of remaining flour . I had just made the original version days before so remember the taste pretty clearly. This time I soaked the remaining fresh milled wheat in the remaining water overnight while the poolish was also doing its thing. The resulting crumb was more cake like and soft than the firm stretchy result I got before. Also, the previous version had a sweet smell/taste from the poolish that was not nearly as noticeable when I did the soaker version. Could be that people prefer the softer cake like bread and maybe Peter does as well- just wondered if my milling was adding to the soft crumb in soaking or if that is the desired result.

Brandimore's picture
Brandimore

Hi There

I just purchased Peters books and found this blog post. I am a bit confused. The Mother starter, are they for when you want to pre make them and store the for a long time? I am following the recipe today for the first time for the Whole Wheat sandwich bread.

Thank you
Amanda

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Amatnda,  I have the book,  but haven't read it recently.  My recollection is that he used the term mother starter to refer to the starter that he stores in the fridge, and he calls the portion that he refreshes to use to bake bread levian, and the difference between the two is how long it has been since it has been fed. Once you have a starter going, it can be kept in the fridge, or cool place for long periods of time between feedings, a week is pretty common, some go longer.  I think his point was that he wants you to use the levian within a short time of feeding ( I think he suggests a day or two, but can't recall ) but that the mother starter can last much longer between feedings.