The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman's Olive Levain **w/crumb**

Mebake's picture

Hamelman's Olive Levain **w/crumb**

This is a late bake of Hamelman's "BREAD" under levain breads. It is 90% White flour vs. 10% Wholwheat with 230g of Pitted olives.

The loaves were fermented for 2.5 hours bulk, and immedietly retarded for 8 hours overnight at 50F (10c). I suspect the crumb will be tighter than i wish, because i believe the loaves needed an additional 1 hour fermentation prior to retarding.

Any ways, today i'll cut into them and find out!



ramat123's picture

Can you please explain how you score the oval loaf to get it's crust shape?

Mebake's picture

Hi, Ramat123

Crumb shot will follow soon (i'am morre eager then anyone to see the result).

AS to the scoring, i used a lame i devised my self. Wooden coffe stir rod, with shaving blade wedged into its tip. This way, the blade is bent, and with scoring at an angle a straight line will do the job. The effect you see is mostly achieved by effective steaming during first 15 minutes of the bake.

Oh, and hold the side of the dough where the scoring begins , just to avoid dragging , and score confidently once only. A cold dough out of the fridge also helps with scoring.

Hope that helps

ramat123's picture

As I'm going to bake two olive levain loaves this evening + two 4 grains loaves.

I will use your advise. Thanks! David

Noor13's picture

I think the loafs look delicious

I love olives and I can only imagine how lovely it will taste :)

Looking forward to see those crumb shots


lief's picture

Khalid, the crumb on these loaves look fantastic to me!  I love olive bread.  Unfortunately, my wife does not so I barely ever make it.

Mebake's picture

I tasted it, its great for mostly white bread, but i would still prefer a higher wholewheat content.


arlo's picture

Those loaves look wonderful Khalid, your talent is really showing.

Enjoy them! I bet they would be great with hummus!

Mebake's picture

thanks, Arlo!

Cream Cheese would be great too!


ramat123's picture

"Retarded 8h in 10c" what kind of refrigirator do you use to get a 10c environment. Standard is 4c if I'm not wrong.



Franko's picture

Hi Khalid,

As I write this I've got 'Bread' open on my lap and I'm looking at the photo in the book of the olive levain and comparing it to yours. Got to tell you I think yours looks better my friend. Nice bake!


benjamin's picture

those loaves look great Khalid, I'm not much of an olive fan, but I can certainly appreciate a wonderfully shaped loaf with perfect crumb.


teketeke's picture


I admire your bread. They look so perfect! 


ramat123's picture

As I mentioned your post has come right on time. I've baked 4 loaves this morning and the results are great.

Another question - in your opinion - If I want to keep a loaf like this in the freeze - whould it be better to slice it before ot freeze it as is?





Mebake's picture

Hi, David! Great to hear about your bake success! As to your first question, i reduce the refreigerating setting in my Fridge to the minimum, i.e. highest temperature. I have a meat thermometer which registers low temps. I stuck it in, and found the temperature at the lowest setting to be 10C.

It would be better to slice your bread prior to freezing. Try to keep it airtight, or you'll end up with ice in your slices, and freeze it after it has thoroughly cooled, say 2 hours.

Franko, Thanks alot, but i guess Hamelman uses King arthur Bread flour which is far superior to mine. The crumb piche had in the book is almost perfect, mine is not bad for a 12% protein Flour.

Thanks, Ben, and Akiko! Akikio: your strive to perfect baguettes impresses me!



ww's picture


i join everyone else in admiring your cuts :) the boules look very tight, can see the tension and tightness of the "skin" and the cuts are so neat although there are quite a few. Do you slash straight out of the fridge or do you "thaw" your loaves a bit before they go into the oven?

NIce crumb too!

Mebake's picture

Hi, WW

Thanks for the compliments. I left the doughs out of refrig. for 1 hour, slashed, and then loaded them into the oven.


M2's picture

Thanks for sharing the photos of these beautiful loaves of bread.  As a new bread maker, I tend to let the bread turn rather brown in the oven because I worry that the bread may not be ready if the crust is only lightly brown.  Your bread look fantastic, and now I feel a bit assured that maybe I can take the bread out sooner!


Occabeka's picture

Hi Michelle,

Crust colour should not be the only indicator by which you judge whether or not your loaf is done. This is because crust colour is dependent on the temperature in which the loaf has been baked and the amount of sugar in the dough.

A good way to tell will be by tapping the loaf for the hollow sound that a done loaf emits when tapped. Another will be testing the internal temperature of the loaf.

When the loaf is done, crust colour becomes just a matter of individual preference.


breadsong's picture

Hello khalid,

I've been meaning to write to say how fantastic your Olive Levain looked...great pictures!

Regards, breadsong

Mebake's picture

Thanks, Michelle! As Hamelman says: "learning the subtle art of fermentation". Getting the fermentation right will put you on the right track, regardless of the crust color of the end loaf.

Too true Occa!

Thanks, Breadsong! I am an amateur painter/sketcher, and i can't do anything short of art, even when baking, which has proven to be disasterous with my last bake: Wholewheat multigrain. Paying too much attention to the shape of the end loaf, i mixed in hot water (to reach to 78F DDT: desired dough temperature) with my leavain, and so my bread never grew, and i ended up with an"artistic" doorstop. Heheheheheh



Lenore's picture

Hi Khalid, this looks gorgeous! I've been lurking on The Fresh Loaf for a few months (and have admired several of your breads) and am finally inspired to comment, and on an old thread to boot! This olive levain looks very close to my favorite bakery bread, an olive boule from Atwater's in Baltimore. What I love about their bread is the crust, the crumb, and the flavor. I know that theirs has more bread flour than whole wheat, but while I'm not sure about the proportions, it seems like the whole wheat is higher than 10%. How do you think this formula would hold up to about 20% ww or so? My starter is currently about half and half. 

Looking forward to trying this out either way!


Mebake's picture

Hi, Lenore!

I'm glad you liked this bread. The recipe's whole wheat content is 10%, but could easily be increased to 20 % with not much change in flavor. You'll have to adjust the water % in the final dough, as wholewheat absorbes more more water.

Thanks for the nice words