The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trusting your gut when formula's don't seem right -- my experience with Hamelman's Vermont SD with Increased Whole Grain

bnom's picture

Trusting your gut when formula's don't seem right -- my experience with Hamelman's Vermont SD with Increased Whole Grain

I decided that my first by-the-book recipe I'd make from Hamelman's Bread would be Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain.  I had my starter bubbling, my scale ready, started adding ingredients to the bowl and--wait a minute--this can't be right.  The formula was clearly incorrect (It turns out that I just happened to choose the Bread recipe most fraught with errors).  So I  improvised the best I could. 

I then looked up, on the Mellow Bakers site, the errata sheet and also found Hamelman's email correcting the formula.  Yesterday, I closely followed his formula, so I could compare the two breads while they were still fresh in my mind.   

Here's the crust/crumb from Hamelman's corrected formula:


And here's the crumb of my improvised version:

The winner?  We thought the improvised loaf had a much better flavor and texture.  The Hamelman version was, by comparison, rather doughy and bland. Although I loved the bloom and ears.  I think the answer is in the balance somewhere between the two.  Next time, I keep track of my own formula and post results. 



dghdctr's picture


I'm not sure if you already knew this, but Hamelman usually uses a flour marketed as "Sir Galahad" in the baking trade.  It is the same flour that's branded as "King Arthur All Pupose" in grocery stores.  Any other so-called "bread flour" that can be purchased at the grocery tends to be much stronger and more absorbent than the KA AP, since they are usually made with spring wheat while KA AP is milled from winter wheat.

If the flour you used was stronger, that might explain the somewhat less open crumb that you obtained using the "corrected" Hamelman formula.

Of course, whether that's what happened or not, any bread that you are happy with is what you should make.  The fact that yours veers away from what Jeffrey did doesn't mean you need to feel at all incorrect in your formula and procedure.  I'd certainly agree that you should record almost any venture into bread baking with a notebook, even if you're making something with the same flour and hydration as before.  Sometimes results will vary in a surprising way.  Your notes can help you figure out what happened.

-- Dan DiMuzio

bnom's picture

Thanks for your reply Dan.  I use Pendleton Mills Morbread flour which is 12% protein.  Sir Galahad is 11.7 percent -- so I think they're pretty comparable.  

I made JH's french bread yesterday and it had a nice open crumb.