Adding seeds/soak


Can someone tell me what the rules of thumb are for adding seeds or a soak to a dough please?  I have made blacknumberone's country bread a few times now and wondered how to adapt the recipe......for example, if I add a linseed or flaxseed soak do i remove the water from the recipe used in the soak....and if using dry seeds do I remove the weight of the seeds in flour?  Altetrnatively would I be better adding seeds to a darker grain loaf such as spelt or rye (I have a bag of spelt flour I dont know what do with!).  I love the flavor and texture of the country loaf (thanks blacknumberone) but want to try something different.....any suggestions or hints welcome.


236 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 January 8

Hello Janisem,

I would certainly deduct the water in your soak from the recipe.  And I wouldn't adjust the flour. 

The seeds will absorb some water (rolled oats/triticale etc a little more) but what remains will definitely comtribute to your dough hydration.

If the resulting dough turns out a bit firmer than you would like then it is much better/easier to incorporate some more water than to be adding flour to a dough that is too slack. 

This is due to the slow water absorption by flour making it easy to overadd and the possibility of ending up with underdeveloped flour in the mix reducing the dough strength. 

The main thing is not to be afraid to experiment and use your senses to judge what is required.  If it doesn't work out quite right this time as the adage goes - try, try, try again.

Good luck with your projects.


Graham's picture
Graham 2013 January 11

We use linseeds in several breads here. They are grown locally so there is always good supply.

I either soak the seeds overnight or mix them with boiling water an hour before use and place in the coolroom to cool down.

Generally I like seeds to be moist but not so wet that they dramatically change the structure of the dough when added. Soaked linseeds are gently mixed in shortly before the dough is fully developed.

For my linseeds I add 900ml water per 1000g linseeds. i.e 90% hydration.

My dough and the seed mixture are treated seperately in terms of how water is calculated. I make a smaller dough than required and then add the seed mixture to bring it to full weight. Linseeds have a very satifying neutral taste and I do not salt them.

janisem 2013 January 12

Thanks both for your replies....just a couple more questions.  Can the amount of soak to add be calculated in terms of ratio to the final dough weight minus the soak water, and also does adding a soak affect autolyzing and  proofing time?  Probably a silly question, but do the seeds absorb all the water or is it necessary to drain them before use.....thanks for taking the time to answer


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 January 13

Hello Janisem,

In the seeded recipes that I use, the water in the soak is part of the water in the dough so I would leave that in as part of the calculation and not drain.  The blend of ingredients will have an effect as different grains and grain treatments will absorb different amounts and affect the amount of free water.  Rolled oats and triticale or rye flakes will absorb a lot more than linseed and other hard grains while kibbled grains are likely to be in between.

Some recipes suggest that you should incorporate the grains after the gluten development has been done and this is what Graham has suggested.  This is easier when you are using a mixer and I have put the multi-grain blend in from scratch without obvious major ill-effect.  Putting it in later does mean that your development is done at a lower hydration which can be an advantage if you like working with stiffer doughs as you only have to deal with the softer dough later in the process.

The autolyse time is a bit arbitrary in any case and I don't think you would need to make any adjustment to that.  I also don't think that the proving time would be affected but once again you should be guided by your senses rather than by the clock.

Good luck with your projects.


janisem 2013 January 31

Thanks for that Farinam, I also read your very helpful advice to digitalorthodoxy re: folding in seeds and fruit as I don't have a mixer.  You are so right about not being guided by the clock.



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