Whole-Wheat Bread with a Multigrain Soaker

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

This Version of Whole-Wheat Bread is more Robust than its soakerless cousins, and keeps quite well because of the high moisture level. By pre-fermenting 35 percent of the flour, the dough has an extra boost of not only flavor but leavening potential as well. What may seem at first glance like a high percentage of salt is in fact a balanced measure, since the soaker grains need salt in order for the bread to be balanced. Other grains and seeds, such as flax, sesame, sunflower, and cracked rye, can be used in lieu of or in addition to the grains used in the present formula.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 35%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Whole-Wheat Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Bread Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Cracked Wheat 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Coarse Cornmeal 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Millet 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Oats 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Water 15.6 lb 7.8 kg 1 lb 9 oz 78 %
Salt .48 lb .24 kg .8 oz 2.4 %
Yeast .26 lb fresh .13 kg, fresh .13 oz, instant dry 1.3 %
Honey 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Total Yield 41.34 lb 20.67 kg 4 lb 1.9 oz 206.7 %


Cracked Wheat 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz ( cup) 25 %
Coarse Cornmeal 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz ( cup) 25 %
Millet 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz (¼ cup) 25 %
Oats 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz (½ cup) 25 %
Water, Boiling 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz (1 cup) 125 %
Total 9 lb 4.5 kg 14.4 oz

Pâte Fermentée

Bread Flour 7 lb 3.5 kg 11.2 oz ( cups) 100 %
Water 4.55 lb 2.275 kg 7.3 oz ( cup) 65 %
Salt .14 lb .07 kg .2 oz (1 tsp) 2 %
Yeast .014 lb, fresh .007 kg, fresh ( tsp, instant dry) .2%
Total 11.704 lb 5.852 kg 1 lb, 2.7 oz

Final Dough

Whole-Wheat Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb (3⅝ cups)
Bread Flour 3 lb 1.5 kg 4.8 oz (1 cup)
Water 6.05 lb 3.025 kg 9.7 oz ( cups)
Salt .34 lb .17 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Yeast .246 lb, fresh .123 kg, fresh .13 oz, instant dry ( tsp)
Honey 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz (2 T)
Soaker 9 lb 4.5 kg 14.4 oz (all of above)
Pâte Fermentée 11.704 lb 5.852 kg 1 lb, 2.7 oz (all of above)
Total 41.34 lb 20.67 kg 4 lb, 1.9 oz


  1. Soaker: Prepare the soaker by measuring the grains into a bowl and pouring the boiling water over them. Stir to incorporate, then cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic. In hot weather, the dough’s overall salt can be used to prevent enzymatic activity from commencing. Make the soaker at least 4 hours before mixing the final dough so the grains have enough time to absorb the water and soften. A finer-textured bread can be made if the soaker ingredients are ground in a food processor before adding the water.
  2. Pâte Fermentée: Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour and salt, and mix until just smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70°F. Alternatively, remove a portion from a previous mix for use as pâte fermentée. In this case, refer to “Preparing the Pre-Ferment,”, for correct handling of the pre-ferment.
  3. Mixing: Place all the ingredients, including the soaker but not the pâte fermentée, in the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. As the dough is coming together, add the pâte fermentée in chunks. If necessary, correct the hydration by adding water or flour in small amounts. Soakers tend to have quite a range of water absorption; don’t hesitate to add a fair amount of water if the dough seems too dry. Turn the mixer to second speed and mix for 3 to 3½ minutes. The dough should be supple and lively to the pull, and the gluten moderately developed. Desired dough temperature: 75°F.
  4. Bulk Fermentation: 2 hours.
  5. Folding: Fold the dough after 1 hour of bulk fermentation.
  6. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces (or make rolls with smaller pieces). Preshape lightly into rounds and place on a lightly floured work surface, seams up. Cover the rounds with plastic. When the dough has relaxed sufficiently (10 to 20 minutes), shape into round or oval loaves, place them either into floured bannetons or between folds of floured baker’s linen, and cover with plastic. The dough can also be placed in loaf pans.
  7. Final Fermentation: Approximately 1 to 1½ hours at 75°F.
  8. Baking: Transfer the risen loaves onto the loading conveyor or peel. Score the loaves as desired, presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again. Bake at 450°F. Open the oven vents after the loaves show color, in order to finish the bake in a drying oven. If the breads are taking on too much color early in the bake (due to the presence of the honey), lower the oven temperature by 10° or 20°F. Loaves scaled at 1.5 pounds will bake in approximately 40 minutes.