The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Adding grains to bread

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Adding grains to bread

Hello All

A question for all you bread experts out there.  I have several breads I have perfected over the last couple of years.  I want to change up some of these by adding different grains like bobs 5 or 7 grain cereal.  My question is how do I go about soaking these grains or cereals so that when I add them to the dough they don't contribute or rob water to the dough?  I was thinking of soaking a given amount of cereal in a given amount of water and weighing the water that did not soak in?   Any ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Da Crumb Bum

Breadwhiner's picture

I have a baker's formula that soaks with 64% water relative to the grain weight.  Then the bread is 70% hydration, which is typical for breads without grains.


Hope this helps. 

breadnerd's picture

I've seen two methods for soaking grains.


1. Soak the grains in unmeasured water overnight, then drain any remaining water leftover.

2. Use a portion of the full recipe's liquid (water, milk etc) in the soaker, then add the entire amount into the final dough.


In actual practice, I don't worry too much about affecting the final dough hydration.  I usually just hold back a little of the final water (or other liquid) during mixing/kneading so that I can add it later if necessary. My standard multi grain recipe is from BBA (I've adapted it a bit) and he doesn't use much water at all in his soaker--it doesn't take a whole lot to soften the grains, especially over 8 or more hours.


2 cents.


- breadnerd


sphealey's picture

The recipe that King Arthur gave out at the National Baking Tour lesson calls for


1-1/2 cups hot water

3/4 cups grain mix (cracked grain, seeds, 5-grains, mixture, etc)

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (King Arthur naturally!)

2 cups AP flour


The method the instructor used was to take the water from the tea kettle after it had cooled down a bit (say 175 deg.F), pour it over the grains, mix, cover, leave out for an hour, and put in refrigerator overnight. She pointed out that leaving the soaked grain overnight at room temperature would start you down the road toward beer rather than bread!


So you could try that for proportions. Of course, there is a question as to what "3/4 cup" means in terms of weight, as the grains could vary from very dense (lots of cracked rye) to less dense (seeds).


_Bread Alone_ also has recipes that use a lot of cracked grain.



pumpkinpapa's picture

I always soak my grains and leave them out overnight at room temperature, anywhere's from 12 to 24 hours. I know some do it in as little as 7 hours.

I use warm water or Kefir milk. Kefir has the benefit of breaking down tannins, complex starches and certain hardy proteins which we have a hard time digesting.

I haven't tried it but I have heard of some who also soak a portion of their flour when w using a whole flour, ie. wheat, spelt, or rye. I'm told it is similar to sourdough.

tony's picture

My experience is to soak grain berries covered overnight at cool room temperature in their own weight of water or a little more. Sometimes I use cold well water, sometimes I boil it and pour over the grain. It's not clear how much difference the boiling makes, but for my most recent mixed-flour French bread with wheatberries (berry weight = 8% of the flour weight) I boiled the water, using 1.5 times the berry weight of water. All the water went into the dough the next morning. I added a percent or so of water to the dough hydration on the supposition that the the berries needed a little extra. However, I'm not sure that that extra percent matters much. Each batch of my bread differs from it's predecessors in a number of ways, so I'm seldom sure of all the cause-and-effect at work.

I like the whole grains in the bread. They give an extra chewy quality to the crumb and the ones in the crust can be crunchy with a different toasted grain flavor. Probably using boiling (or hot) water for the soaker makes softer berries in the crust. I've had some quite hard little bits in the crust of wheatberry or ryeberry bread.

Best of luck,

Drifty Baker's picture
Drifty Baker

I have been making a cracked wheat bread for some time.  The recipe I have calls for 3 cups of boiling water to be poured over 1 cup of cracked wheat and then you let it sit overnight  When I was last in Salt Lake City I got some local cracked wheat cereal that was just cracked wheat berries.  The instructions on the bag said to cook the cereal for 10 minutes.  I tried that and then let the cereal sit covered overnight.  The next day the cereal had almost congealed.  The bread made with the cooked wheat was more moist and kept fresh longer.  The cracked wheat berries were not as hard. Even those were not as hard as before.

I always make my loaves with the cooked wheat berries now.

Drifty Baker 


pumpkinpapa's picture

Boiling water is not good for the grains since boiled water is 212 F, and bread doesn't reach that temperature while baking. It's best for the healthy grains to be soaked in liquid that is a lot cooler.

Consider grinding grains, anything over 150F ruins it entirely, 130 F is when most nutrients begin to be killed off.

Now I like my porridge boiled but then I also like my porridge soaked overnight too :) 

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Thanks for all your ideas.  I imagine I will be trying most if not all of these.  Good thing is the mistakes are pretty darn good eat'in.  The microwave idea seems to be the most simple, like me.  I just have to try a recipie that uses the instruction "zap it"

Da Crumb Bum