The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


alfanso's picture

For high hydration levains, I've exclusivly used a 125% hydration rye levain for more than a year now, but wanted to return to from whence it came.  This is another Vermont SD, retuning to Mr. Hamelman's 125% hydration AP flour levain formula.  It is just a lovely Pain au Levain bread.  Thin crisp crust and open sweet and "sparkling" crumb.

I usually avoid reposting past breads except when something has changed.  I've been mostly quiet here for a while now, and when I bake I generally stick to the tried and true.  But I thought I'd post these just for the heck of it.

3 x 360g, 1 x 410g baguettes/long batards


pmccool's picture

Beth Hensperger's Sweet Vanilla Challah, to be precise.  These will be appreciation gifts. 


pmccool's picture

Okay, the grain bill was different than Hamelman's but the rest of the bread was per the formula.  Good stuff!


Dsr303's picture

made whole dinner in wood fired oven, it’s a little chilly here in New Jersey but I’m tired of waiting for nice weather.

Wish my neighbors would take advantage of the oven..

Danni3ll3's picture

At the one of the local bulk stores, I came across some barley flakes. I had been wanting to try barley based on Ian’s porridge breads so barley flakes came home with me. I love cranberries (as if you didn’t know by now) so cranberries were something that needed to be added. Searching TFL for a fruit/barley recipe, I came across a recipe from 2014 by Emkay: It was very helpful in creating this recipe.  Then I found my rosemary cranberry pecan crisp recipe and though why not: Rosemary and seeds too! The rosemary can be omitted but I know it gives an amazing flavour to the crackers but I also know that a little goes a long way. So here goes:


Makes 3 loaves (Note that I make 4 batches at once so some pictures will show this)


90 g barley flakes

180 g boiling water

30 g yogurt


100 g dried cranberries

50 g pumpkins seeds

50 g sunflower seeds

20 g sesame seeds

1 1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary


660 g unbleached flour

220 g freshly milled Selkirk wheat flour (255 g Selkirk berries)

110 g freshly milled rye flour (127 g rye berries)

7 g vwg

50 g fresh ground flax seeds

715 g water

22 g salt

245 g levain (Explanation follows)

A night or two before:

  1. Mill the Selkirk and rye berries. Sift out the bran and reserve for the first stage of the levain.

The night before:

  1. Boil the water for the soaker and add to the barley flakes. Let cool and add the yogurt. Let sit overnight.
  2. Toast the pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds in a dry frying pan. Once cool, add the cranberries and reserve. 
  3. Before going to bed, build the first stage of the levain by feeding 42 g of water and 42 g of reserved bran to 18 g of your starter. You won’t see much activity by the morning but your nose will let you know that things are happening!


  1. Early in the morning, feed the levain 84 g of water and 84 g of bread flour. Let rise until it is very bubbly and has peaked. This took 5 hours at 73 F room temp.
  2. Mix all of the flours and the vital wheat gluten very well. The vwg has to be well dispersed before the water hits the mix. 
  3. Add the dough water to the soaker and stir to loosen. Then mix it in with all of the flours. Let autolyse with the salt sprinkled on top while the levain finishes rising. 
  4. Chop the rosemary very finely and add to the cranberry/seed mixture.
  5. Add 245 g of levain. Mix well to integrate the salt and the levain. So a few stretches and folds to continue developing the gluten.
  6. Do 3 sets of folds each 30-@45 minutes apart. Add the toasted seeds, cranberries and rosemary during the second fold (Put the dough on the counter and do envelope folds and sprinkling the add-ins on the bare parts of the dough; Thank you Dab for the explanation on how you do this!) Then do hourly folds until the dough is showing bubbles on the edges and on top. It was our wedding anniversary (39th!) yesterday and hubby took me out to dinner, so that meant a side trip to the fridge while we were out. The dough was almost doubled by the time we got back and I let it warm up on the counter for an hour or so. 
  7. Carefully remove the dough from its container (try to not deflate it) onto a bare counter, sprinkle it with flour and divide into 3 equal portions. Sprinkle tops with a bit of flour. Round into boules using a dough scraper and let rest for 45 minutes to an hour. Sprinkle more flour on the balls and flip the balls over. Reshape the balls into boules by cinching, flip the boules right side up and tighten the skin by spinning each ball. Be sure that each boule has a nice tight round shape. 
  8. Sprinkle some rice/ap flour into the bannetons and then place the dough seam side down. Cover and place in a cold fridge (37F) for the night. For me this was 9-10 hours. 


  1. Preheat the oven and the pots to 475F for an hour. Place parchment rounds in the bottom of each pot and carefully place the boules seam side up. Cover and bake for 25 minutes at 450F. Uncover and bake for a further 20 minutes at 425F. Final internal temp should be at least 205F.

The dough felt really silky as I was doing the folds. I don’t know if it was the barley or what but it was nice!

I also like using no flour on the counter when I turn out my dough and rounding using only the dough scraper. This is only the second time I have tried this and it sure makes a lot less mess. I still get a bit of dough on my fingers but nothing like usual. 


In the end, they turned out quite nicely with decent oven spring. Crumb shot when we cut one open. 

not.a.crumb.left's picture

I've found the more I bake the more I realise what I don't know - like with everything in life...

After a number of bakes where I lacked oven spring and experimented with different flours...I've been given some brilliant advice to  go back to lower hydration and see what happens....So I tried Trevor's 65% hydration loaf but WITHOUT THE OVERNIGHT premix as I know that this totally degrades my weak UK flour from the Champlain bakes.

I also used my 60% hydration stiff starter which I started to use in the now getting warmer spring weather on the counter and feed every 12 hours..

Overall, I am happy and it did not the quickly 'sagging' during scoring so I am hopeful and shall up hydration slowly and see at what hydration point the 'sagging' happens. Could of course be my 'bad' handling or 'overproofing' or 'scoring'...ha, many possibilities.....

I think, I might bake this more as a great day to day sandwich bread.....

If anybody else has the 'slightly sagging' dilemma combined with 'oven spring but not just enough syndrome' and their findings would be great? I think the result of this lower hydration loaves makes me feel it is the hydration that I need to watch and flours....



Anne-Marie B's picture
Anne-Marie B

My sister recently bought a house in Portugal. That got me interested in Portuguese breads and I discovered their treasure trove of breads. For the next few weeks I will be baking breads from that little sunny land and aided by Miguel Forte's blog on Portuguese breads.  Bolo do Caco is from the Islands of Madeira. They are made with a sourdough starter and contains sweet potato. Traditionally baked on a slab over an open fire, mine was cooked in a dry skillet on the stove over a very low heat. Soft and moist inside, probably due to the sweet potato. Tradition in this house demands that the first roll/slice of a fresh bread is eaten warm with heaps of butter. 



Danni3ll3's picture


Hubby went through the weekend loaf in no time and there is no bread in the freezer so I needed to do a mid week bake. I based this bake on Edo Bread’s Small Daily Loaves which is basically a 1:2:3 type of loaf.

I don’t have exact amounts for the rye Red Fife mix because my scale was misbehaving and what I thought was equal amounts turned out to be more rye than Red Fife. My fault as I didn’t have the scale on a level surface. Then I had more sifted flour than the planned 200 g so I just threw it all in the loaf and reduced the amount of bread flour. So that explains the weird amounts. 

Makes one loaf. 

267 g of a mix of freshly milled Rye and Red Fife flour, sifted

100 g AP Unbleached flour

83 g Bread flour 

325 g Water 

15 g yogurt 

11 g Salt 

150 g 100% hydration Wholewheat levain

  1. Refresh your starter with 1:2:2 feeds over a day or two. I used all Wholewheat flour. 
  2. Mill enough rye and Red Fife berries to get 267 g of sifted flour. Feel free to adjust amounts. Save the bran for dusting the banneton. 
  3. Add the all purpose and bread flour as well as the water and let autolyse for 40 minutes. 
  4. Add the salt, yogurt and levain. Mix well and roll, fold and stretch until the dough starts sticking less to the walls of the bowl and there is some gluten development. 
  5. Do 3 sets of folds a half hour apart and go to hourly folds until the dough has bubbles on the sides and the top. Because I was going out for dinner, I put the dough on hold in the fridge for about four hours. When I got back, I did a stretch and fold and put it in a warm spot. I resumed the hourly folds until bulk was done. 
  6. This is where I tried something totally different. I wet my hand and slipped it around the dough to release it and dumped the dough into a bare counter. I lightly dusted the top of the dough with flour and then used my scraper to round it out a la Trevor Wilson. Once I got a nice tight shape, I let it rest for 40 minutes. 
  7. After 40 minutes, I flipped the dough over onto a barely floured counter and pulled the dough out into a rectangle. I then pulled the two top corners out like Mickey Mouse ears and folded those to the center. I rolled the top towards me pinching the front edge with my thumbs. When I reached the bottom edge of the dough, I sealed the seam with the heel of my hand. The result was a nice batard shape. 
  8. The banneton was dusted with both rice/ap flour and reserved bran. The bartard went in seam side down. 
  9. Cover the dough and place in the fridge for the night. The dough didn’t rise much if at all by the next morning. 
  10. In the morning, heat up the oven with a graniteware roaster to 500F. This is where I should have gone with my first thought and that was to line the toaster with some parchment paper. I didn’t do that. I sprinkled some cornmeal instead. 
  11. Bake at 475F for 25 minutes and then remove the lid and bake another 15-20 minutes until the internal temp is at least 205F. 

I got amazing oven spring! 

I got amazing crumb! 

I also got an amazingly stuck loaf!!



leslieruf's picture

DanAyo"s recent post prompted a response by Trevor Wilson.

So time to give this a shot, see if I could do a long warm fermentation such as Trevor suggested without the dough degrading and see what effect it has on flavour.

Sunday morning:  Refresh my mother starter (basically a 1:2:3)  which lives in the fridge. 

Sunday evening: Refresh again keeping to this ratio, making a bit more than I required.

Trevor's suggestion was  to make a lower hydration dough eg 65% hydration with the stiff levain being only 10% of the total dough weight.

330 g flour

214 g water

6 g salt

So Monday morning 7 am I weighed out 55 g stiff levain and added 214 g water.  Then added some of the flour to make a thick slurry before adding the salt and the rest of the flour.  I hand kneaded until I was close to window pane.

As I don't have a proofer, I used the microwave to heat a cup of water, then placed the dough container in the microwave with the light on and the door cracked open.  It held the temperature quite happily at about 80 deg F.

1 pm As per instruction, once the dough had doubled at the 6 hour mark, I removed dough and degassed with firm stretch and folds then returned it to the microwave.

3 pm  repeated the degassing and stretch and folds, did a fairly firm preshape, and returned the dough to the microwave for 60 minutes. 

4 pm The dough had puffed up again so degassed again, shaped firmly into a boule and left to proof.  Pre heated oven and DO.

5:30 pm I think dough is ready to bake, but as dough is warm, instead of scoring I snipped a square shape the baked in DO lid on, fan on at 230 deg C for 15 minutes, 15 minutes lid off.

Crumb shot

The flavour was definitely mild, crumb is soft and close but it is not dense.  

I was happy the dough did not degrade and I think I could probably have left the first bulk ferment a bit longer, it had doubled but was no where near tripling.  The second rise was quicker and it did more than double.  Shaping was not difficult and the dough although warm was not sticky.  It was fun to try something different and  I will try again I think.

While all this was going on, I repeated last week's bake of 25% wholewheat loaves comparing the 2 grains.  This bake was better than last week I think.  When I mixed the levain on Sunday evening I added the bran to the mix to help soften it.  

South Island wheat (780 g loaf)


North Island wheat (900 g loaf)


Not much between them I reckon.  I think too, adding bran to one of the levain builds is really upping the activity. 

This is a rewrite - tried last night but the gremlins got me, and I lost the whole post.....  :( 




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