Five-Grain Levain

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Dough Yield: About

    31

    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in

Bread

By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

This is One of the Most Delectable Breads I Have Ever Eaten. It has a high percentage of whole grains and a solid level of acidity, yet it is surprisingly light. What appears to be a misprint—98 percent hydration—is in fact correct. The grains in the soaker take in a great deal of the overall dough water, and once mixed, the bread has a moderately loose texture. The percentage of salt appears high at first glance as well, but it is necessary to add salt to the soaker grains as well as to the flour.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 25%

Ingredients

Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 15 lb 7.5 kg 1 lb, 8 oz 75 %
Whole-Wheat Flour 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz 25 %
Cracked Rye 1.84 lb .92 kg 2.9 oz 9.2 %
Flaxseeds 1.84 lb .92 kg 2.9 oz 9.2 %
Sunflower Seeds 1.54 lb .77 kg 2.5 oz 7.7 %
Oats 1.54 lb .77 kg 2.5 oz 7.7 %
Water 19.6 lb 9.8 kg 1 lb, 15.4 oz 98 %
Salt .5 lb .25 kg .8 oz 2.5 %
Yeast .16 lb, fresh .08 kg, fresh .1 oz, instant dry .8%
Total Yield 47.02 lb 23.51 kg 4 lb, 11.1 oz 235.1 %

Liquid-Levain Build

Bread Flour 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz (1⅞ cups) 100 %
Water 6.26 lb 3.13 kg 10 oz ( cups) 125 %
Mature Culture (Liquid) 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz (3 T) 20 %
Total 12.26 lb 6.13 kg 1 lb, 3.6 oz

Soaker

Cracked Rye 1.84 lb .92 kg 2.9 oz ( cup) 27.2 %
Flaxseeds 1.84 lb .92 kg 2.9 oz ( cup) 27.2 %
Sunflower Seeds 1.54 lb .77 kg 2.5 oz (½ cup) 22.8 %
Oats 1.54 lb .77 kg 2.5 oz (¾ cup) 22.8 %
Water, Boiling 8.12 lb 4.06 kg 13 oz (1⅝ cups) 120 %
Salt .136 lb .068 kg .2 oz (1 tsp) 2 %
Total 15.02 lb 7.508 kg 1 lb, 8 oz

Final Dough

Bread Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb (4⅜ cups)
Whole-Wheat Flour 5 lb 2.5 kg 8 oz ( cups)
Water 5.22 lb 2.61 kg 8.4 oz (1 cup)
Salt .364 lb .182 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Yeast .16 lb, fresh .08 kg, fresh .1 oz, instant dry (1 tsp)
Soaker 15.02 lb 7.508 kg 1 lb, 8 oz (all of above)
Liquid Levain 11.26 lb 5.63 kg 1 lb, 2 oz (all less 3 T)
Total 47.02 lb 23.51 kg 4 lb, 11.1 oz

Method

  1. Liquid Levain: Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F.
  2. Soaker: Pour the boiling water over the grain blend and salt, mix thoroughly, and cover with plastic to prevent evaporation. Make the soaker at the same time as the final build of the levain and let stand at room temperature. If grains that don’t require a hot soaker are used (such as rye chops in lieu of the cracked rye listed here), a cold soaker can be made. In that case, the grains in the soaker will absorb less water, and therefore it’s likely that slightly less water will be needed in the final dough.
  3. Mixing: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes, adjusting the hydration as necessary. Mix on second speed for 3 to 3½ minutes. The dough should have a moderate gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 76°F.
  4. Bulk Fermentation: 1 to 1½ hours.
  5. Folding: If the bulk fermentation will last 1½ hours, fold after 45 minutes.
  6. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces; shape round or oblong. Large loaves of several pounds are also a beautiful sight. And good rolls can be made from this dough.
  7. Final Fermentation: Approximately 1 hour at 76°F. (The dough can be retarded for several hours or overnight, in which case the bulk fermentation should be 2 hours with 1 fold, and the yeast should be left out of the mix.)
  8. Baking: With normal steam, 460°F for 40 to 45 minutes. There is a great deal of water retention in this bread, so be sure to bake it thoroughly.