Soaker benefits with whole grain?

Soaker benefits with whole grain?

I am still pretty inexperienced baking bread but focused on making tasty whole grain loafs at this point. I am milling my hard red winter wheat berries with my Kitchenaid mill attachment.

I picked up Peter Reinhart’s “Whole Grain Bread” book and have been working with that after some initial work with recipes on Breadtopia.com.

Peter seems to recommend using a soaker in the book and I have made a few of the recipes along with my sourdough starter that I have had going for about a month. The recipes are coming out good, and my wife and I have been enjoying the bread for sure. Today I decided to do a side by side comparison and baked his basic whole wheat hearth bread recipe, along with a pretty straightforward 90% hydration version of what I was making before based on the breadtopia site. I didn’t add any of optional oil or honey from Peter’s recipe so both could be as close as possible. I had also found that the oil and honey were making the bread a little more cake like in the crumb so have been eliminating them lately.

With the straight 90% recipe, I mixed the ingredients (I used my starter for both recipes), did a stretch and fold technique in the bowl, then let it sit out overnight. I followed Peter’s recipe directly for the other.

I was surprised to find some big differences between the two, Peter’s recipe produced a crumb that was kind of crumbly without much in the way of holes, while the 90% basic recipe got a better oven spring and had some nice holes and a chewier texture, cutting better and holding together better. Also I didn’t get much of the sour taste I like with Peter’s – the 90% recipe had a nice balance of sourness and seemed to have more “flavors” if that makes sense- less basic? In the attached photo Peter’s recipe is the loaf on the bottom.

So am I missing something? The basic recipe is a lot easier to make and fits my baking schedule better… but there most be some benefit for the soaker I am missing vs just mixing everything at once for the fermentation over night?

Appreciate any advice on this!

thanks,

Stuart

Source: Fresh Loaf