Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Grain Levain

I try to avoid buying multigrain breads from bakeshops around here because I've always been dissatisfied with the flavor and texture of the loaves I end up with.  Most of the time they're bland, dry or have this very rough feel on the palate.  Ever since I started making my own multigrain breads though, the first being Peter Reinhart's Multigrain Struan from his book "Whole Grain Breads," I realized that it's quite possible for any avid home baker to make flavorful multigrain breads that could surpass any commercial variety as long as you use the best ingredients and the proper techniques.  I'm thankful that there are great bread books out there that provide exceptional formulas as well as thorough  instructions that are geared towards the home baker and whatever simple equipment they may have in their kitchens.  Hamelman's book "Bread," though not a book dedicated solely to whole grains, has a comprehensive list of formulas containing whole grains and this Five Grain Levain bread is one of the healthiest and certainly the tastiest from that list and it thrills me to think that I made these myself in the comfort of my own kitchen! 

Since one home recipe makes 2 - 3 loaves, I decided to give my sons' pediatrician one loaf since she loves anything with whole grains in it.  She loved it so much that she she asked me to make 2 more loaves!  This bread is really that good and could even be eaten on its own but my favorite way is to eat it slightly toasted (which enhances the flavor of the grains even more) with cheddar cheese. 

I made some slight changes because I didn't have any high-gluten flour so I just added about 2 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to the flour.  For added nutrition, I also added a few grams of chia seeds.  I've written my revisions to the recipe below and converted the U.S. measurements to metric:

Five Grain Levain
Adapted from Bread: A Book of Techniques and Recipe by Jeffrey Hamelman

Yield: 3 medium loaves or 2 large loaves

Liquid-Levain Build

Bread Flour   227 g
Water   284 g
Mature Culture   45 g


Cracked Rye   82 g
Flaxseeds   82 g
Sunflower Seeds   71 g
Oats   71 g
Chia Seeds   20 g
Water, boiling   369 g
Salt   6 g

Final Dough

Bread Flour 436 g
Vital Wheat Gluten   18 g
Whole Wheat Flour   227 g
Water   238 g
Salt   17 g
Yeast (Omit if retarding dough overnight)   2.8 g
Soaker   681 g
Liquid Levain   510 g


1.  Make the liquid-levain build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix and let stand in a covered container at about 70 F.

2. Pour the boiling water over the grain blend and salt, mix thoroughly and cover with plastic to avoid evaporation.  Make this the same time as the liquid-levain build.  If using rye chops instead of cracked rye, you can use cold water for the soaker.

3. After 12-16 hours add all the liquid-levain build, soaker, and final dough ingredients in a KA mixing bowl and mix until well incorporated and the flour is hydrated.  Cover with plastic and let stand for 30 minutes (autolyze).  Attach the mixing bowl in the KA and using a dough hook, mix at medium speed (speed 4) until dough is of medium consistency about 8 minutes.

4.  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl for bulk fermentation.  If retarding overnight (which I did) bulk ferment for 2 hours with a stretch and fold after 1 hour.

5. Divide the dough into desired sizes, shape into rounds and let rest for 15-20 minutes.  Shape into batards or boules then place in floured bannetons or lined wicker baskets.

6.  Cover each with plastic and refrigerate at 40 F for at least 6 hours.

7.  Score the loaves before baking.  Bake at 460 F at normal steam for 40 - 45 minutes.  This dough is rather wet because of the water retention of the grains so I baked it longer than the require time..maybe 10-15 minutes more to fully bake the bread.

*Submitting this post to YeastSpotting*


  1. Yum! I wish I could reach in and grab one. I love the healthy grains in this bread and the crumb looks light and not dense. Your pediatrician is lucky!! :-)

    1. Thanks Hanaa! It's so good I'm actually planning to make this again next week :-)

  2. You're really good at baking bread, it's amazing!!!

  3. Beautiful looking bake. I have made a similar bread myself and it's one of my favorite breads to date. Check it out on my blog if you are interested in trying another variation at

  4. just made your oatmeal bread.. and it is looking good.