Some bread recipes include kibbled (cracked) grains and seeds, resulting in a unique taste, and coarse grained texture. These grains and seeds also give added health benefits through increased fibre, vitamins and minerals found only in the whole grain. When using these types of ingredients in your sourdough it introduces the need for an additional stage in the development of the bread dough – the soaker stage.
In this stage the ingredients are soaked in water, generally for 24 hours at room temperature before being added to the bread dough. Typical ingredients that are soaked include kibbled wheat, kibble rye and oats, linseed or flax seeds and many more. Without soaking, these seeds would be too hard to give pleasant eating and remain largely indigestible in the resulting bread. Soakers also enhance the natural sweetness and maltose level in the dough. The bread will have a depth of flavours that have sweet and sour notes as well as a moist crumb which enhances bread keeping qualities.
The soaker stage will usually be 24 hours in duration at room temperature and involves the following steps:
Step 1 – Add the Dry Ingredients
If you are using an electronic scale then progressively add the dry ingredients, zeroing the scale after adding each ingredient. Alternatively, you can use the cumulative weights of ingredients given in the recipe to continuously add to the mix. For balance type scales it is definitely easier to use the cumulative weights.
Tip: when adding multiple dry ingredients, gently flatten the previously added ingredients in the scale dish and add the next ingredient as a new mound – this makes it easier to remove excess that may have accidentally slipped onto the scale dish.
Put the weighed ingredients into a container that has a lid, ensure that plastic containers are BPA free.
Step 2 – Add the Water
Weigh out the required water ingredient (preferably filtered water). Pour the water into the container of soaker ingredients. Use a spoon to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly mixed together with the water.
Leave the soaker in a location in your house that has a constant temperature away from drafts – preferably 20°C (68°F). Leave to soak for the number of hours dictated by the recipe.