The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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And that is how I celebrated it :)


So as I wrote before, I am now a happy owner of Michel Suas' "Bread and Pastry". I got it on Monday and ever since tried to figure out which bread to bake first - the problem was that I loved literally e v e r y t h i n g. My two final choices were "Rustic Filone" (made with 2 pre-ferments - yeasted and sourdough) and "Honey Wheat Pan Bread". I had almost decided with the last one, but as it takes only 8 hours to build levain and I could not get home that early, I had chosen "Filone".

It did not seem complicted at first glance. The truth is it's not comlicated at all. Things get messy when you fail to scale ingredients correctly. Like me. You see, I can handle pretty easily very wet dough, I can knead with my eyes closed, but I CAN'T FREAKIN SCALE! That is so annoying. Oh one more thing: I though I'd bake "Honey Wheat", because it involved double hydration technique. You mix the dough until gluten is developed and then you add some more water. You probably have heard about it, but I was honestly intrigued. So, back to my story. Instead of adding 191 g water I made it 161... I started kneading and immediately felt that something is wrong. I told you, I can handle wet dough really good, and I do prefer my dough wet. I like when it sticks to my hands a bit, because I know it would in the end result in nice open crumb and light texture. This dough was however not sticky at all; the floor would just remain somewhere on the bottom of the bowl with some crumbly ball in the center. Obviously it needed a lot more water. I splashed some more water, just to combine the remaining floor with that ball. I mixed it until there was about medium gluten development (I prefer to s&f the dough in the middle of bulk, instead of letting gluten fully develop at the beginning). I left my still too tight to the touch dough and thought I'd just sit and wait what happens to the dough next. I hesitated for a minute or so. Then added about 20 grams more water. At first I thought that I spoilt everything, because what I had in bowl now looked and the worse is that it felt like clay. However after about 2 minutes of intense kneading my dough was very soft, airy and finally sticky. So it almost like I tried double hydration technique and strictly speaking I think I liked it. Probably would try it with more breads, see how different types of dough react to it.

Oh and yes you can see my rustic filone on the photo above. Should have been two small batards, but I made it one. I am more than satisfied with the final product, although I need to bake it at least one more time to see what it's like with the correct amount of water :)

saumhain's picture

Well, first thing, thank you all for the feedback to the previous entry. I do realize that working is no excuse for leaving my whole family without tasty bread) I am now looking on the way to adapt some of my favourite recipes to new schedule and to practice out those which fit in it.

Concerning the book... As my sister said, "now you've got something to do for the next hundred of years". This is oh so true. Obviously it won't take me that long to try out all the recipes (or at least those which I find the most exciting) but the book is definitely worth studying thoroughly. I especially got carried away with the idea of making croissants with starter (the whole viennoiserie section is indeed marvellous) and hazelnut squares. Though I might want to start with something less challenging, and learn the theory first)


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Well, actually, I do love my new job. It's not as boring as the previous one and so much better than studying @ uni (at least my uni). But it has like two major drawbacks: firstly, we are not allowed to wear jeans in the office, and the second, which is really depressing - I have practically no time to bake bread!!!

I leave to work at 8 in the morning at the latest, and get back at 7 if I am really lucky. Of course, I still can bake yeasted breads, but it's not possible to bake sourdough breads... And it's such a shame, 'cause it took me a while (three failed attempts)  to raise a new starter after I've arrived from Austria, and I baked only 3 or four sourdough breads ever since. I do hope that when it gets a bit colder in our flat my starter won't ripen in 5 hours and I would then prepare pre-ferment early in the morning and bake when I come back home. For now I can bake only during weekend.

Last week I baked Hamelman's 5 Grain Levain. Oh yes one (of many))) precious present from Austria - Hamelman's "Bread", which I have been exploring and studying for 2 months already and continue to do so. I really enjoyed this bread, it was really good and tasty even after a week or so, although it became a bit sour.

The same weekend I tried to bake 40% Rye with Caraway (I was tempted by its variation, which Hamelman suggests - Salzstangerl - delicious salt sticks sprinkled also with bit of caraway, which I bought quite often in Austria). But it was a complete fail. Honestly, I had never failed with sourdough before; this time, however, I followed measurements and instructions precisely, but the dough was... Well, strictly speaking, it was not even dough - it was more like muffin batter, obviously with no sign of gluten. I mixed it, got scared by its consistence and then left it for 20 minutes or so, hoping in vain that the flour will absorb water by this time. But since it never happened and I was feeling completely desperate, I just threw it all away. May be someone had the same issue with this recipe? If not, I'd love to learn what could possibly go wrong, any suggestions are appreciated, since I have absolutely no clue.

This Saturday I baked yet another rye bread by Hamelman, this time with much more success. I have chosen his Flaxseed Rye, published in Modern Baking in March 2009. Both dmsnyder (which measurements I used) and hansjoakim had lovely interpretations of this bread, which I liked a lot. Besides it includes "altus" (bread soaker) and I always wanted to taste bread made with it. So, what can I say? Yet again the dough was wetter that I expected, even though I cut down 44 grams of water from the final dough!!! It was also proving a lot less, since I've told already, it's really hot at my place. The final result was still amazing - despite the relative small percentage of rye, it tastes like a real rye bread, goes well with almost anything. Stores good too. I am really satisfied with the result but I keep on wondering what kind of flour is there in America that Hamelman uses, which requires so much water??


saumhain's picture

I am leaving to Austria for two months, there will be no baking... Can't possibly imagine how it must feel: no kneading, no feeding your sourdough, no messing up in the kitchen. And my poor starter... I have just thrown it away in the bin, since none of my relatives seemed eager to look after it.

Anyway. I obviously could not leave my family without fresh bread, so I baked 5 loaves in just a couple of days: 2 pain au levain with whole-wheat, dark silesian rye,

rye with walnuts and

yeasted spelt loaf with mixed nuts and seeds

(original recipe belongs to Zorra from and I should thank her for that!). However, I used a mixture of nust and seeds and since I had only dinkelvollkornmehl, that's what I used. Probably that is why I ended up with using about 200 gr of water in the final dough.

Even though, I have become quite a fan of sourdough breads and avoided baking with yeast only for a long time, I really enjoyed this one. It had a slightly sweet flavour and mixing the dough was really fun - I love the fact that it goes kind  of purple due to spelt.

saumhain's picture

I am living at my aunt's these days and it has been a real pain in the arse getting used to baking in here. The kitchen is like twice smaller than mine, the oven is electric which is good, but feels just... weird.

However, I managed to make three loaves already, all Hamelman's: with olives, 50% whole-wheat sourdough

and whole rye and wheat sourdough.

They all turned out really good and delicious, but the one with olives was obviously the best. That's exactly why no picture of it - it was all gone before I could grab my camera.

saumhain's picture

It's been a month since I started baking with sourdough. So far every single recipe I tried (and there were plenty of them really) was successful and delicious!

This loaf is made with Italian 00 flour, corn flour (in the recipe white corn flour is used; I used simply fine corn flour, don't know whether it's the same thing) and whole-wheat. Oh and whey. I made it, as suggested by Dan Lepard, by stirring a bit rennet in milk and then straining mixture through cheesecloth.


I baked with steam at somewhat 220 C (my oven is damn old, it's hard to tell) for 40 minutes.

I really like the way it turned out, the colour, the crumb and holes - everything is perfect! I bet, the colour could have been more deep, but I was sort of afraid that the bottom might burn.

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