The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

dmsnyder's blog

  • Pin It
dmsnyder's picture

Pain au Levain from Hamelman's Bread (So what if I baked it umpteen weeks in a row? It's really good!)

Pain au Levain Crumb (the real reason I'm posting on this bread again) 

They say "Man cannot live by bread alone. You need side dishes."

A bit of petrale sole, a stuffed baked tomato and some Italian broad beans. Navarro Reisling, not pictured. (Tomato is stuffed with bread crumbs from Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Two Starters, garlic, etc.)

And, to clear the palate and fill any empty corners ...

Susan baked a plum cake.

Hmmmm .... I think I need another slice.


dmsnyder's picture

We have my sister and brother-in-law and my younger son's two daughters staying with us this week. This morning, we had a traditional Sunday brunch with bagels, smoked salmon, farmers' chop suey and sourcream coffee cake. My neighborhood bread tasters joined us.

The bagels were made with the Krakow Bagel formula I tested last Summer for Inside the Jewish Bakery. The bagels are supposed to be twisted, but I shaped them in the more usual manner. They are very chewy with a crisp crust and delicious flavor. They received rave reviews. If you want the formula, you will have to buy Stan and Norm's book when it's released in the next few weeks.

I also baked a couple loaves of my San Joaquin Sourdough to have with our dinner of proscuito and melon and fettucine with ragu.

I loved five year old Naomi's comment on the bloom as I took the loaves out of the oven: "Ooooo .... They got so big, they broke!"

Hope you all are having as much fun this weekend as I am!


dmsnyder's picture

This weekend, I made two of the pains au levain from Hamelman's Bread - The Pain au Levain, which Hamelman says is typically French, and the Pain Au Levain with Mixed Starters, which is made with both a white liquid starter and a rye starter. This bread also contains some whole wheat flour in the final dough.

Pain au Levain

Pain au Levain crumb

Pain au Levain with Mixed Starters

Pain au Levain with Mixed Starters crumb

Both of these are delicious breads. The Pain au Levain is mildly sour. The Pain au Levain is more sour, due to both the increased rye and an overnight cold retardation. It has a delicious, complex flavor.

Both these breads are highly recommended.


dmsnyder's picture

Two months ago, after enjoying Phillipe Gosselin's “baguettes tradition” in Paris, I attempted to replicate this delicious bread in a sourdough version. (Baguette Tradition after Phillip Gosselin) My wife and I actually preferred my version to the original. In fact, I felt they were the best tasting sourdough baguettes I'd ever made.

 Yesterday, I made them again. This time, I omitted the little bit of instant yeast I had used with the first bake. Interestingly enough, my fermentation time was just about the same as with the added yeast.

The other difference was I used a new (to me) flour from Central Milling. According to brother Glenn, Nicky Giusto told him this is the flour Acme uses for their much-admired baguettes. I hesitate to generalize from a single bake with it, but it made a very chewy baguette crumb with good flavor. I'm looking forward to using it on some other breads with which I am more experienced.



Baker's %

Central Milling Organic “ABC” Flour

400 g


Ice Water

275 g



8.75 g


Liquid Levain

200 g


Instant yeast (optional)

¼ tsp



883.75 g


Note: Accounting for the flour and water in the levain, the total flour is 500 g and the total water is 375 g, making the actual dough hydration 75%. The actual salt percentage is 1.75%.


  1. The night before baking, mix the flour and levain with 225 g of ice water and immediately refrigerate.

  2. The next morning, add the salt and 50 g of ice water to the dough and mix thoroughly. (I did this by hand by squishing the dough between my fingers until the water was fully incorporated.)

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl with a tight cover.

  4. Ferment at room temperature until the dough has about doubled in volume. (3 hours for me) Do stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes for the first two hours.

  5. An hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF, with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  6. Divide the dough into 4 more or less equal pieces and stretch each into a 12-14 inch long “baguette.”

  7. Score and bake immediately at 460ºF, with steam for 10 minutes, and for about 20 minutes total.

  8. Cool on a rack before eating.


dmsnyder's picture

Well, I'm back from a lovely week at the beach with family. I surely enjoyed the week, including Glenn's fabulous pastrami and corn beef with his and my rye breads. Glenn's Tartine BCB and my SFBI miche were also appreciated. 

Yesterday, I thawed dough made for pizzas 4 and 6 weeks ago and frozen. I made a couple of pies, one with each of the doughs made with Maggie Glezer's and Jeff Verasano's recipes.


Pizza using Maggie Glezer's dough

Pizza made with Jeff Verasano's dough

Glezer's pizza dough retained its distinctive crispness. Verasano's dough was still more elastic than Glezer's but not as chewy as it had been before freezing. I would say that neither was quite as good, but both were better than any you could get at the chains.

Today, I baked a couple bâtards of Pain au Levain from Hamelman's Bread. This has become a favorite. Today's tweak was to shape the loaves using the method portrayed on the KAF videos but proofing the loaves in cotton-lined oval brotformen rather than on a couche.


The loaves assumed a rounder/less elongated shape during baking. I wonder if, en couche, with lateral support but no support at the ends, the loaves spread longitudinally more. Hmmmm ….


I have dough for my version of Gosselin's Baguettes Tradition in the fridge to finish tomorrow. I'll update this entry accordingly.


dmsnyder's picture

The pizza I made two weeks ago (Pizza Napoletana) elicited many helpful comments and suggestions. That pizza had a cracker-crisp crust and minimalist toppings. This week, I was shooting for a more robust, chewy crust that would stand up to tomato sauce and cheese. (Heavier toppings yet await a future pizza-making session.

Based on the advice of several more experienced pizza makers, I chose to make my dough using Jeff Verasano's well-known method. His long and passionate treatise on pizza-making at home can be found on his website. (Jeff Verasano Pizza) His formula for dough is as follows: 

Jeff Verasano's Dough for one 13” pie


Wt. (g)

Baker's %




Flour (12.7% protein)






Liquid levain



Instant yeast (optional)






 This formula is scalable. For two pies, double the ingredients, etc.

Because of a variety of considerations (including whims), the dough I made was modified from Verasano's as follows:

dmsnyder Dough for five 11” pies


Wt. (g)

Baker's %




Flour (12.7% protein)






Liquid levain



Instant yeast (optional)






As you can see, I quadrupled the formula for one pie, but divided it into 5 pieces. I decreased the salt and increased the levain. The effect of doubling the levain percentage was to raise the actual overall hydration of the dough to 68%.

Verasano's instructions for mixing and fermentation are very specific about some steps but leave out some other information which would be helpful. Here is my method, annotated:


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the water, salt, levain and 3/4 of the flour for 1-2 minutes at slow speed.

  2. Cover the bowl and let it rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.

  3. Mix at low speed for 5 minutes. (Note: Verasano is using a DLX mixer. I have not altered his mix times for the KitchenAid.)

  4. Add remaining flour gradually (over 1-3 minutes).

  5. After 6-8 minutes, increase the mixer speed to medium (Speed 2-3 for a KitchenAid).

  6. Mix until the dough forms a ball, then for another minute. (Note: For me, the dough formed a ball very quickly and cleaned the sides of the bowl. However, it was extremely slack and left a large portion of the dough in the bottom. In hindsight, I had not compensated for the increase in water and dough hydration resulting from my doubling the percentage of 100% hydration levain. I mixed at medium speed for about 15 minutes, at which point I had a rough window pane.)

  7. Let the dough rest in the mixer bowl, covered, for 20 minutes.

  8. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, dust the dough and your hands with flour, and divide the dough into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. (Note: Verasano says that, after transferring the dough to the board, he kneads it for a few minutes before dividing it. I did two sets of stretch and folds, after which the dough had really good strength.)

  9. Place each ball into a lightly oiled container and either allow to ferment until increased in volume by 50% or refrigerate for 1-6 days to use during that time or freeze for future use. (Note: Verasano does not specifically say to divide the dough before bulk fermentation, but that is a common procedure, and I believe that is his intent. He also gives a huge range of estimates for fermentation time. He does not say whether these estimates are with or without the optional instant yeast. I suspect they are without the added yeast. I froze 3 balls and allowed 2 to ferment at room temperature. They were 50% expanded after about 2 hours, at which point I refrigerated them.)

  10. If the dough is expanded 50% before you are ready to use it, refrigerate it.

  11. If the dough was refrigerated, allow it to warm for 60-90 minutes while you pre-heat your oven for baking the pizzas. If the dough was frozen, I would thaw it in the refrigerator and then proceed.

I made two Pizza Margheritas. I made the crust quite thin. The sauce was that in Floyd's A Pizza Primer. I used a very soft fresh mozzarella. Fresh basel was added after the pizzas were baked.

Pizza, dressed for baking

Ready to slice

Slice crumb

This crust stood up to the sauce and cheese rather well. It was not soggy at all. It was very chewy under the toppings, but the corona was crisp. The flavor was good, but I bet it would have been better if the dough had been cold retarded for a day or two. That said, I covertly watched my wife eat her pizza slices. The truest test of pizza crust is whether she eats the rim. She generally doesn't eat the crust when we have pizza out. Tonight, she left not a crumb. I guess it was pretty good.

Personally, I'd like to split the difference between this crust and the one of two weeks ago. Maybe I'll try adding a little oil to soften this dough or use a lower gluten flour. I'm less tempted to try a much lower hydration dough, because I like the extensibility of this dough so much.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to my previous pizza blog. The quest continues! 



dmsnyder's picture

Okay. I know this is a baking forum, but consider: Rye bread cries for pastrami, and pastrami sandwiches cry for pickles. In fact, the respondents to my recent blog on Jewish Sour Rye Bread  and Eric's blog on home-made pastrami have more or less demanded I share my mother's recipe for the best ever garlic pickles.

But, first,  you have to hear a story about them, you should be warned.

I don't make pickles often. Typically, several years go by between picklings, so there are things I forget.

A few years ago … about 25 years, actually … I put up a case of my mother's garlic pickles. (See the recipe, below.) My wife and I disagreed about the process, which is a normal step in the pickle-making procedure, but I am in charge of pickling in our household, so I did it as I remembered my mother doing it.

Well, after the pickles were in the jars and three days had passed, we took the jars out of the box to tighten the lids. The brine in the jars was fizzy with gas, and the contents were extremely cloudy. My wife, whose first career was as a clinical microbiologist, wanted me to throw them out; they clearly had bacterial contamination and were unsafe to eat. My memory was that my mother's pickle jars always got cloudy. This was normal. They hadn't killed anyone yet. I was sure they were just fine.

We continued this “discussion” for several days. Then, in exasperation, I called the University of California, Davis Agricultural Extension Service, after getting my wife to agree they would be a reliable source of health safety information regarding home preserved vegetables.

I spoke with the nice young women to whom I was transferred who identified herself as a consultant on home canning. I described the condition of my pickles. She asked for my recipe, and I gave it to her. There was a long pause. She asked, “No vinegar?” I confirmed that the pickles were made without vinegar. She told me that vinegar was absolutely required. Acidification of the brine was essential to prevent growth of bacteria, including Clostridia botulinum. Another long pause. “Sir, I believe you have a very dangerous product there,” she announced, with considerable emotion.

My wife, of course, reminded me she had “told you so!” But, I was unconvinced. I told the nice Cooperative Extension Service Canning Consultant I was just positive my mother's pickles always turned cloudy and gave off gas, and they hadn't killed anyone yet. I was sure they were fine. She said she was still sure I had a lethal “product,” but she would talk to the Cooperative Extension Service Pickle Consultant when he returned from vacation in 2 weeks and get back to me.

Two weeks later, as good as her word, the Cooperative Extension Service Canning Consultant called me back. She had talked with the Cooperative Extension Service Pickle Consultant, and she had learned something new which she shared with me: “You have not made pickles,” she announced. “Pickles are made with vinegar. What you have made is fermented cucumbers.” The Pickle Consultant had told her to tell me the way to be sure they were safe to eat was to look for carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentative process and a cloudy precipitate in the brine, which was made of dead yeast bodies.

After waiting a week after I had eaten a few, to be sure the pickles didn't kill me or make me sick, my wife and children joined me in enjoying the delicious fermented cucumbers. 

Phyllis Snyder's Garlic Not-Pickles


  1. Pickling cucumbers

  2. Peeled garlic cloves

  3. Celery cut into 1/2 x 3 inch sticks

  4. Dried hot red peppers

  5. Fresh dill weed

  6. Pickling spice

  7. Brine made with 1 part un-iodized salt stirred until dissolved in 21 parts water.


  1. Glass canning jars and lids

  1. Large pot to sterilize jars and lids

  2. Tongs to handle hot jars and lids

  3. Clean kitchen towels to drain sterilized jars and lids

  4. Large colander


  1. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place jars and lids in the water and boil for 7 minutes.

  3. Remove jars and lids from water and drain on kitchen towels until they are room temperature.

  4. Scrub pickling cucumbers well. Drain in colander.

  5. Pack each jar tightly with a layer of cucumbers, upright.

  6. Over this layer, pour 1 tsp pickling spice, 1 or 2 garlic cloves, 2 dill sprigs (stems and flowers) and 1 pepper. (These quantities are for quart jars. If you are using pint jars, use half these quantities for each jar.)

  7. Pack the rest of the jar tightly with cucumbers.

  8. Insert 2 or more celery sticks in among the cucumbers. (These supposedly help the pickles stay crisp. Anyway, they are good to eat too.)

  9. Fill the jar with the brine to cover the jar contents completely.

  10. Screw the lids onto the jars loosely.

  11. Leave the jars in a cool place for at least 3 days. (If you want “half-pickles,” refrigerate the jars immediately at this point.) There will be significant carbon dioxide gas generate which will appear as tiny bubbles in the brine, and the brine will become cloudy with a white sediment which will eventually settle to the bottom of the jars.

  12. Tighten the jar lids and store them. The pickles can now be eaten, but will keep for a few years.




dmsnyder's picture

This 2+ kg miche is for an upcoming family gathering. Eighteen of us - most of 3 generations - will be getting together at the Central California beach town where my generation vacationed with our parents in the 1960's and '70's. There are lot's of wonderful memories of those Summers.

The formula for the miche is from the SFBI Artisan II workshop I took last December. I have described the formula and methods here: This miche is a hit! Since then, many TFL members have made this bread and seem to have enjoyed it as much as I. That includes brother Glenn, who has promised to bring along a matching miche.

The only modification of the original formula for this bake was to use half WFM Organic AP flour and half CM Organic Type 85 flour.

 The crust has lots of lovely crackles.

No crumb photos, since I'm taking it intact to the gathering.

I also baked a couple 1 pound loaves of the San Francisco Sourdough from AB&P today. The formula can be found here: Crackly Crust & Shiny Crumb: San Francisco Sourdough from AB&P

I think the "group photo" puts things in better perspective.


dmsnyder's picture


It has been a while since I last made Jewish Sour Rye, but it is still a favorite of mine. Learning to make this bread, which I could no longer get locally, was a major reason I started baking bread again 4 or 5 years ago. I use a formula based on that in George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker.” In 2008, I worked out the ingredient weights. Greenstein gives only volume measurements. The formula for my version can be found here: Sour Rye Bread from George Greenstein's “Secrets of a Jewish Baker”

Traditional Jewish Sour Rye is made with white rye flour and first clear flour. Once I started making more German and Russian style rye breads, the flavor of white rye became less appealing to me. I started making a version of Jewish Sour Rye using dark rye instead.

Today's bake was made with a rye sour built from my stock sourdough, which is kept at 50% hydration and is fed with a 70:20:10 mix of AP:WW: Dark rye. I went through 3 builds at 12 hour intervals, doubling the volume of sour with each build. The first two were fed with BRM Dark Rye. The final build, which contained approximately half the total rye flour, was fed with a nice, finely milled medium rye flour from I kept the half-ripe, final sour build refrigerated overnight and let it warm up for an hour before mixing the dough. The first clear flour I used was also from I also added a half cup of altus – German-style pumpernickel (baked 5 months ago and frozen) cut in cubes and soaked overnight in cold water, then wrung out before adding to the dough. 

I needed to add an additional 1/2 cup or so of first clear flour during mixing to get the dough consistency I wanted. I suspect this was necessary because of the additional water in the altus. This dough is very slack and very sticky as it comes out of the mixer, but it shapes well with judicious flour dusting and a light touch when handling it. I divided the dough into three 528g pieces and shaped as logs. For the first time, I proofed this rye on a linen couche. This stuff is magic. Even these sticky loaves released with no dough sticking to the linen. I transferred the loaves to a sheet of parchment on my peel, because I didn't want the cornstarch glaze getting on it. The bake was as described in my previous blog entries.

I sliced and tasted the bread about 3 hours after it came out of the oven. I feared I had somewhat over-proofed the loaves. They had less oven spring than usual. However, I was very happy with the crumb structure and the texture of the crumb. It has a delicious rye with caraway flavor. It was moderately sour. The pumpernickel altus added a depth of flavor, as well as a different texture due to the cracked rye berries in in the pumpernickel dough.

This bread is still a favorite.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

dmsnyder's picture

You can go nuts trying to find the perfect pizza dough formula. The cookbooks and the web are full of recipes for various types of dough and full of opinions regarding the type of flour to use, the ingredients (beyond flour, water, salt and yeast) and the mixing and fermentation methods that work best.

My goal for today was what I understand to be classic pizza napoletana. The dough should consist of the four basic ingredients only – no oil, sugar, malt or other stuff. The crust should be very thin and crisp on the bottom, not soft or soggy. The toppings should be minimal, so the crust is the main attraction.

After reading through many, many recipes, I settled on the one in Maggie Glezer's “Artisan Breads.” It uses the 4 ingredients only. It is for a Naples-style pizza. It is credited to Emanuele Leonforte of Hosteria restaurant in Port Chester, New York.

Leonforte uses a mix of Doppio Zero and high-gluten flour that Glezer calculates as resulting in about 12.5% protein. He uses a remarkably short mix. He ferments the dough for a long time but only once. Glezer gives the option of retarding the dough overnight and fermenting it the next day, and that fit best with my schedule. The method I used is described below.




Baker's %

KAF Bread Flour

500 g


Instant yeast

1/4 tsp



10 g


Water, lukewarm





  1. Measure the flour, yeast and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix them.

  2. With the dough hook in place and the mixer at slow speed, gradually pour in the water.

  3. Mix until the dough forms a ball and cleans the side of the bowl, about 3 minutes.

  4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.

  5. Mix the dough at Speed 2 for about 3 minutes. It should be fairly smooth but will not pass the window pane test.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and divide it into 4 equal pieces of about 200 g each (to make 10 inch pizzas).

  7. Shape each piece into a tight ball.

  8. Place each ball into a 1 qt Ziploc bag with a tablespoon of olive oil. Roll the ball in the oil and seal the bags.

  9. The dough can be refrigerated overnight, frozen for later use or allowed to ferment at room temperature for 5 to 6 hours for use the same day. (I refrigerated two balls and froze two.)

  10. For refrigerated dough, remove it to room temperature 3-5 hours before you plan on making the pizza, depending on room temperature.

  11. An hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF (or more, if possible) with a baking stone on the middle shelf.

  12. Remove one ball at a time from its bag and shape into a 10 inch round by your method of choice.

  13. Top the pizza as desired, immediately transfer it to the baking stone, and bake for 8-10 minutes until done. Repeat for additional pizzas.

The toppings I used for each pizza were:

  1. Brush the entire surface of the shaped pizza dough with olive oil.

  2. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary.

  3. Sprinkle with a large clove of garlic, sliced very thin.

  4. Distribute on the pizza a cup of cherry tomatoes, halved, cut side up or a cup of fresh roma tomatoes peeled, seeded and cut into quarters.

  5. After baking, optionally top with fresh arugula or basel leaves.


Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, pre-bake

Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, baked

Pizza with Roma Tomatoes, pre-bake

Pizza with Roma Tomatoes, baked

The results were wonderful! The dough stretched easily to paper thin without tearing and baked so crisp there was no sagging when a slice was help up by the corona. Biting into it was a noisy crunch. The flavor of the crust was delicious. The whole experience sold me on minimalist toppings.

Pizza bottom crust

Thin crust


I don't think adding a few capers, or olives or mushrooms would do any harm, but I don't think making pizzas with heavy saucing, lots of cheese or lots of anything will be tempting again.

 The pizza was a nice follow-up to last night's bruschetta.

Bruschetta with fresh funghi porcini and with tomatoes and basel


Submitted to YeastSpotting


Subscribe to RSS - dmsnyder's blog