soaking additions to dough


I am enjoying sourdough baking, but ready to start having fun with my favorite recipes.  I like using a recipe as a guideline and no want to aadd extra grains, seeds etc, such as millet, quinoa, rolled oats, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax, amd have a few questions.  How do I know which ones need soaking.  Does anyone have a list or good website?  Also, since they are not ground as fine as flour can I just add them to the dough or do I need to adjust anything?



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Shady Grove Baking's picture
Shady Grove Baking 2011 June 8

Sourdough Mama,

My rule of thumb for adding whole grains (not seeds) to bread is soak them. Primarily, by soaking various grains at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours, the grains begin to break down. The enzymes activate and begin breaking down the long starch chains into sugars (more prevalent in whole grain flours). These sugars are beneficial to the yeast as nutrients and and boost the flavor of the final bread. Grains I like to add to my breads are

oats, wheat kernals, millet, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.

For example, wheat (among other grass grains) contains phytic acid which inhibits our absorbtion of calcium. However, wheat conveinently contains the enzyme phytase, which you could guess, breaks down the phytic acid. Thus allowing key minerals, such as calcium, to be absorbed.

Seeds are slightly different. Soaking them will give them a bit of chewiness in the baked dough. Not soaking seeds allows them to have a more crunchy effect, as they are essentially roasted during the baking. When I dust the loaves with seeds I don't soak them just sprinkle them on. Flax seeds are a bit tricky due to the high oil content. Ideally it is best to by whole flax seeds and grind them up just before baking. The hull of the seeds is indigestible by our stomachs making grinding absolutely essential. However, the volatile oils in flax go rancid quickly and must be refrigerated. I have a small refrigerator and room is limited so I keep the whole seeds around.

I know this may be a quite in depth answer, but I am currently studying all things baking (self-teaching) and want to disseminate the information and engrain it into my head. I hope this infromation helps.

sourdoughmama 2011 June 8

Sounds great and follows with my research on the enzymes and the benefits of fermentation.  Do I use part of the liquid from the original bread recipe or simply soak in enough water to cover and then drain before adding to the dough?  Could I also just add the grains to a preferment with a long fermentation, such as overnight, prior to the stage of actual dough making (not sure I am using the correct terms to convey my question)?

Shady Grove Baking's picture
Shady Grove Baking 2011 June 11

Good Question,

I have soaked the grains seperate from the dough in plenty of water, usually 1 to 2. For example, 100 grams seeds with 200 grams of water. Soaking them in the dough would work but might not be as effective as soaking them seperate. How this affects the hydration, I have not figured out the math yet. But I have used the excess liquid in the recipe and the dough was not too hyrated. Nor too dry. For more on enzyme breakdown and fermentation of flours/grains, look into Peter Reinhardt's (spelling?) book, Whole Grain Breads:  A New Technique. I hope this helps and enjoy your baking!


Shady Grove

Mariah 2011 June 16

Apart from the nutritional benefits of soaking, they just taste better soaked. I use to not soak. What a disaster. They are just too hard and they rob moisture from the bread. The bread comes out dryer and crunchy. I use about 2 tbs of each grain I want. Put  to soak. Drain off the liquid and use it as part of the water in the recipe. You may have to add a touch more flour to compensate for the wet grains but you will know how much from trying it. Be conservative with the # of grains you add. Start small, work up. You may find that the whole grains want to tear the dough. After kneading some, by hand or machine do stretch and folds. There is a lot of info out there about that. 


Sharona 2011 October 27

I have used soaked broken grains in loaves and they have been quite successful. However, I have been investigating using sprouted grains in a loaf, as the sprouting apparently allows the body to absorb more nutrients and enzymes from the grain, rather than using "dry" soaked grains. I was trying to eat "Paleo" but couldn't give up the sourdough and home baked flatbreads - hence the idea of using sprouted grain in bread.  Has anyone tried using these, and what success have you had.

Further to above, yesterday, I mixed up a dough from a recipe in Yoke Mardewi's wonderful book "Wild Sourdough". I included 1 1/2 cups of sprouted seeds (Adzuki beans, Mung Beans, Lentils & Fenugreek) before the last rise. Covered and stood for about 5 hours. Although the 2 loaves didn't rise to double their original, nevertheless, I am enjoying a very moist, slightly sweet bread with a medium open crumb! Beautiful with a spread of home made Camembert!

Will persevere and try this one again. Used 100% hydration white starter, wholewheat flour and white bread flour.

"On a Journey"...................

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