The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Filomatic's blog

Filomatic's picture

I make a lot of Hamelman 50%-whole-grain-with-a-soaker breads.  They often look quite similar but taste pretty different depending on the grains and soaker ingredients used.  This time was a pleasant surprise, as the depth of flavor is more than I hoped for.  The 28 hour cold final rise also helped with flavor development.

Grains:  6oz WW berries, 5 oz kamut, and 4 oz Øland landrace red wheat from Capay Mills, "a very rare wheat from Denmark, brought to the US by Claus Meyer, of NOMA fame," according to the owner, David Kaisel.

Soaker:  Boiling water poured over rye meal, old bread cubes, and faux red rye malt (The Rye Baker way, i.e., malted rye berries toasted and ground to a fine powder); cut with a pastry cutter the following morning to avoid large bread chunks.

The hydration is lower than I usually do, which made shaping exceedingly easy, and resulted in a pretty tight crumb.  I also didn't have time to sift the grain for a bran levain this time.  I'd love to try this again with rolls.


Filomatic's picture

Polish Milk Rye (chleb z mlekiem) from The Rye Baker, page 309.  It uses  a wet rye sponge as well as commercial yeast and has 60% medium rye (home ground and sifted), 40% bread flour, eggs, milk, molasses, and caraway seeds.

It's was a fast developing dough that shaped easily with gentle handling.  It's tasty and has quite a subtle flavor and would go with practically anything.  I can't recall working with a dough with such low hydration (~60%) since I started making sourdough.

Filomatic's picture

This is my first brioche attempt, using Hamelman's recipe with commercial yeast.  I'm quite proud of it, but I'm not sure what it's really supposed to be like.  I'm not sure how cakey vs. bready it's supposed to be.  It certainly looks and tastes great, but I'm wondering if it's cakier than I'd like.

The problems I encountered were first that the pre-butter-addition mixing did not go as planned.  The dough was very dry, and was straining the machine.  So it's unclear to me if I achieved proper gluten development pre-butter.  Second, I'm not sure if it was adequately mixed post-butter to achieve the "sheeting" effect.  It's a very gooey dough, and it did get a bit of a windowpane, but I became afraid that I was going to overwork it if I didn't stop mixing at some point.  In all it was in there for 25 minutes or so, including several short couple pauses to inspect.

I would appreciate any thoughts people have on these questions.

Filomatic's picture

I knew these would likely over-proof, but I pushed it anyway.

Hamelman multigrain - 50% five whole grain, sifted with a bran levain, of course (kamut, red and white wheat, emmer, last of the sprouted spelt), with honey, a few tbs of my faux red rye malt, and a soaker containing whatever was lying around:  the last of the dried Borodinsky from last winter, teff, chia, and sunflower seeds.  I added lots of extra water during the mix.  It's all relative when working with whole grains and a soaker, but I'd be surprised if this was under 85% hydration.

The dough was oh so slack at first, but tightened nicely with a few folds every half hour.  I fermented at 80 F for the first hour or so then lowered to 76, which didn't cool it down much.  I should have shortened the bulk but didn’t, and it got 2.5 hours before shaping.  Shaping went well, but I knew what was coming.  When I checked the cold-proofing loaves before bed they were already quite inflated.  Not surprisingly they didn’t get good lift during the bake.  But the results are good anyway, and from the crumb you'd hardly know what a knucklehead I am.  In fact, one person on the ferry said it was her favorite of my breads so far.  Go know.

Eye-level shot tells the story - over-proofed loaves that spread.

Filomatic's picture

Some of you might have seen a post recently by user/morb1lee ( offering samples of his wheat grain.

This 50% whole wheat using Lee's grain is the result.  I chose this plain recipe to showcase the grain, and am quite please with the results.  I ground the grain, sifted, and used the bran for the levain.  I highly recommend this process (which I owe to dabrownman), as it softens the bran, making the dough silky smooth, softens the bran so as not to sever the gluten strands, and making the whole grain more digestible.  The finished bread is as soft as sandwich bread.

The final rise was a 24 hour cold retard.

Filomatic's picture

I decided to try a 50% whole grain mix of several of the grains I had on hand, and ended up with:
    • Red wheat
    • White wheat
    • Rye
    • Spelt
    • Kamut
    • Emmer

I also made a room temp soaker with equal parts flax and toasted sunflower and sesame seeds.  I also used honey and my faux red rye malt.  I sifted the whole grains and used the hard bits in the levain.  It stood up to a 29-hour cold final rise.  I’ve never done a mix of so many grains. It’s noticeably more flavorful than usual, and I couldn't be more pleased.  The dough handled about the same as normal for the Hamelman 50/50 WW recipe this is based on.

My oven as usual is hotter than the dial reads, and these only took 30 minutes at "450 F."  

Filomatic's picture

This is a pretty bold bake on my Hamelman 50% WW multigrain with freshly home milled kamut in place of WW.  I sifted and used the hard bits in the levain.  My hot soaker was a mix of durum, toasted old bread crumbs from my last batch, brown flax (left whole for a change), mixed rolled grains, and my faux red rye malt.  The cold final rise was about 18 hours.  I was happy that the timing worked for me to give the less bold loaf to my mother for her 81st birthday.  We were both pleased with the taste.

I was hoping for a more open structure, but it's not dense either.  I just read here that you can expect a denser loaf with kamut (

I also read in the latest Breadtopia post  ( that cold final rises result in a denser middle, and mine certainly evidences that.


Filomatic's picture

I made a quadruple batch of the Borodinsky for half-loaf Xmas gifts.  It was an ordeal that required the assistance of my wife.  Stressful as it was, nothing went wrong, and the results were about as good as my maiden attempt a few weeks earlier.  Scaling up is very difficult in a home kitchen, as the photos show in part.  The dough had to be spooned into the loaf pans, whereas when I made a single loaf I was able to scrape it in the pan neatly in one piece.  All in all, I won't be doing this again anytime soon, but I'm glad it was successful.

Scald and Sponge

Scald-sponge after fermenting for 3 hours--these two barely fit in my Brod & Taylor proofer, bending the sides outward.  Luckily, much of this is air.  The final dough was a bit lower than the preferment, but had to be done twice.

Final dough from the two mix mixes

Proofed dough after 60-75 minutes.

Shaped Loaves


Proofed Loaves

550 F for 10 Minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F

Filomatic's picture

I've finally gotten around to baking from The Rye Baker.  I made red rye malt powder, so the Borodinsky Rye, which he describes as the national bread of Russia, was in my sights.  I loved the process of making the scald sponge, which (here) means making a hot soaker of coarse (freshly milled of course) rye with ground coriander and red rye malt, and then fermenting it for 3-4 hourse with the overnight sponge the next morning before mixing the final dough.  The final dough includes some molasses, the salt, more medium rye flour, some bread flour, and more red rye malt.

The resulting bread is as tasty as any bread I've ever eaten.  It's complex, at once gently sour and mildly sweet, and the crumb is soft like a typical high percentage rye with a rye sourdough preferment.

The overnight sponge:

The overnight sponge and the scald mixed ("scald-sponge"):

The final dough:

The final shape, with wet hands, sprayed with water:

The risen loaf:

Filomatic's picture

Acme in San Francisco makes a lot of different breads.  I often pick up their sourdough cheese rolls, and finally decided to attempt them myself.  Hamelman has a cheese bread with 60% hydration stiff levain.  It got very active and stickier than I expected, never having made a stiff levain before.  The dough itself was 60% hydration, considerably lower than I ever make.

Before baking I called Acme to see if I could find anything out about their method, and to my surprise they were an open book.  It seemed that their process is similar to what I was going to do, and they told me what cheeses they use.  The result was mixed.  The rolls overcooked on the bottom, and the dough was drier than Acme's.  Otherwise, the crumb was decent and the flavor quite similar to the model.

They were shaped and cold retarded overnight, and cooked on a sheet pan on parchment at 460 F for about 30 minutes.  Clearly the heat was too high.  If I make these again I'd lower the heat to 400 or 375, up the hydration a bit and the olive oil more than a bit, and possibly add more cheese.  Please let me know your thoughts.


Subscribe to RSS - Filomatic's blog