The Fresh Loaf

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."  

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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.


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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

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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:

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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.

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My parents bought me a Komo mill for my 50th birthday.  These Hamelman WW multigrain loaves used 50% freshly milled whole grains on the finest setting, and included an overnight soaker of cracked wheat/cornmeal/sesame seeds.  

The crumb is as soft as sandwich bread, which is a total surprise.  All other factors were my normal routine, including adding a considerable amount of water during to mix to achieve medium looseness, 4 folds over about 3 hours (more than Hamelman calls for) and a 30 hour cold retard.

Does anyone else find that freshly milled flour yield a softer crumb?

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It seems like forever since I baked bread that wasn't rye.  This bake had the most explosive oven rise I have ever had, and I'm not sure why.  These were shaped oval, but almost grew round.  I used 50-50 Central Milling Artisan Baker's Craft and 85 Extraction Wheat, both malted.  I'm not sure what the equivalent percentage WW in this recipe would be.  The recipe is 75-25 bread flour to WW, so my experiment seemed low risk.

In place of the cracked rye called for in this recipe I used an old rye bread soaker, now a third generation, since the old bread I used itself had included an old rye bread soaker.  I also upped the hydration during the mix by almost a cup.  The dough was sticky, but after working with rye the last couple months, handling seemed easy by comparison.  The Central Milling flour also has beautiful extensibility.

I regret taking the loaf on the left out too soon, but it had reached 209F.  The one on the right required about 10 extra minutes to get to temperature, thankfully.  I used only natural leaven and cold retarded the shaped loaves about 20 hours, baking straight from the fridge on stone.


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