The Fresh Loaf

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Hamelman's 5-Grain Levain

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hamelman's 5-Grain Levain

In my opinion, the formula for 5-Grain Levain by itself fully justifies the price of Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread. This is just one of several formulas for multigrain breads in the book. I believe I have made all the levain-based ones, and I haven't found one that wasn't scrumptious. I think my very favorite is actually the one that uses a rye sour for leavening. 

I looked it up. I first  blogged on this bread December 21, 2007. I was inspired to make it by a couple things. First, it was highly recommended by Fleur-de-Liz, a very active TFL member in those days who was an adventuresome and accomplished baker and a great photographer. When I was first learning to bake, I wanted to be her when I grew up. Unfortunately, she disappeared from TFL not long after that. The second thing was that Jeff Hamelman described this bread as "the most delectable tasting bread" he'd ever had. Considering the source, how could you not make it?

The first two times I baked the 5-Grain Levain, I found that this is a bread one really should cold retard after the loaves are formed. It makes an enormous difference in the flavor. I baked it the first time without retardation and thought it was good but nothing special. The second bake, with overnight retardation, I discovered what the fuss was about. It really is incredibly delicious.

This formula calls for a liquid (125% hydration) levain and a multi-grain soaker. The soaker is supposed to include cracked rye, but I've never had any. This time, I substituted a very coarsely milled rye flour. Otherwise, I followed Hamelman's instructions, including omitting the instant yeast. I did let the loaves warm at room temperature for about 90 minutes before baking. I've found that baking this bread right out of the fridge results in explosive oven spring and bursting cuts. I prefer it a bit more controlled.

 

Every time I've made this bread, the flavor surprises me. It is so good. This time, the first flavor hit was sweetness, although the bread has no sweetener, other than what is generated by amylase. The crunchy, nutty, caramel crust is fabulous.

Okay. That's enough. Time to heat the soup, dress the salad and slice more bread!

David

Comments

Darwin's picture
Darwin

Not sure how you do it.  I cannot wait to slice open a warm (yes, I let them cool a wee bit) loaf and slather on the butter. Not much better in life to me :)  

Great looking loaves, very tasty!  Hamelman's book is one I have been thinking about acquiring, just don't want another stack of unused books.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

All you have to do is to slice a 80% rye an hour after its baked. It makes you a believer in "cool thoroughly before slicing." Yeah. This doesn't apply as much to most breads, but they are better if cooled before cutting. In fact, these multi-grain breads are much better the second day, but I'm not that good!

If forced to keep only one bread book, there is little question that it would be Hamelman. I've been baking from it for almost 7 years, although by no means exclusively. There are still breads in it that I mean to bake but haven't gotten around to and others I have not gotten back to baking again, even though I really liked them. So many breads .... etc.

David

isand66's picture
isand66

You've convinced me to try this even without seeing the crumb shot.  Look forward to testing it out myself soon.

Ian

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think this is your kind of bread, Ian! That is, if 5 grains is enough variety in a loaf for you. ;-)

David

 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Beautiful loaf and I would have had to cut it sooner than later !  I need to get out Bread and use it . Sits there and i get caught up on TFL formulations. So many books and so little time. c

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

So many books, and, in Hamelman, so many breads!

Speaking of time, it's time to cut the bread, I think.

David

Darwin's picture
Darwin

I know the artisan breads taste better a day or so later, but I love it hot out of the oven.  I got myself a couple 5" & 7" baskets so I could sacrifice a small one to the butter.  :)   80% rye is out of my league, maybe in the distant future.

I will give that book a closer look.  Thanks!

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think it was Hamelman who said, "Bad bread is best eaten warm." Or something like that. 

I think baguettes are best 20 to 30 minutes out of the oven, still slightly warm. I will confess that the bread in this posting is fantastic sliced still slightly warm. But that's 2 hours out of the oven.

David

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

"While really bad bread may only be palatable when eaten warm (if at all), well-made breads never possess their finest atom or flavor until they have cooled completely."

"Bad bread should be eaten warm, even hot. The heat helps to mask the defects."

enjoying my book 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Enjoy!

David

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Very nice loaf David.

I know you bake a lot of lean loaves using different HL leavens….what difference did you notice using the 125% HL compared to lower hydrated leaven?

Also, do you know why he adds salt to the soaker?  If it was a cold soaker I could understand the addition but with a hot soaker it doesn't make sense to me….heat zapping the enzymes so there wouldn't be any fermenting activity going on prior to adding it to the final dough.

Thanks for the post.

Janet

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I can't say I notice a difference, but, in theory, this 125% hydration levain should particularly favor yeast production. If you have the book, you will note that the bulk fermentation and proof are remarkably short. Maybe that's why.

The main reason given for salting the soaker is to inhibit enzyme activity. I'm not at all sure that boiling water stops this. In fact, it would speed it up. I don't think the heat is enough to denature proteins. But, secondarily, Hamelman says the grains in the soaker need extra salt, presumably for flavor.

David

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi David,

Salt and enzyme activity…my thoughts too if cold but I thought that boiling them kills off the enzymes due to the high temp. like when making malted grains.  If I malt grains and want non diastatic malt I dry them at a higher temp. which, I have always assumed, kills off the enzymes….If I want diastatic malt - I dry them  out at a very low temp. which leaves them intact….

So that is why I asked because it goes against how I have been thinking about salt in soakers.  I have always included it in cold soakers but not in hot ones.

Always a new twist :)

Janet

golgi70's picture
golgi70

I've eyed a couple of MG Formulas in Bread to try but now I know which one to try first.  The reason we make at least 4 loaves a bake is so 1 can be broken into before we really "should".  One of our many perks as bakers is we get to eat the bread in all of it's many glories. Gonna give this a go as my next bake I think.  Do i hear a "Bread" baking challenge of sorts?

Very Nice Bake

Josh

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

As I implied, I don't think you will find a bad MG formula (or any other kind) in Bread. I would particularly call your attention to this one and the one with a rye sour as the levain.

This is a "knock your socks off" flavor bomb, especially the crust. Speaking of which, I didn't mention that I baked 15 minutes at 460 dF with steam, then 30 minutes in a dry oven at 435 dF convection bake. I then left the loaves in the turned off oven with the door ajar for another 30 minutes. This is a wet dough, and more so since the seeds and grains hang onto their water. It is best, in my opinion, baked so the crumb is well-baked but still very moist, and the crust is very dry and crunchy. The baking described above does the job.

I hope you do bake it. You're in for a treat!  In my mind, this is not a challenge. It's a gift. 

David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Oh, the crust!     They look so so so so tasty!   I will be baking on Wed.   ...Call of the rye! 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

This one is at least as tasty as it looks! It's one of them real breads. I could happily make a meal out of it. But I wouldn't refuse a slice of Cotswold cheese as accompaniment. Hmmm ... That sounds like a good breakfast for tomorrow.

David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I ended up with a 2kg+ loaf!  It's in the oven now inside an angel food cake mould with a make-shift bottom.  (Smashed a small pie tin with a small sauce pan.)  It smells so good!  Extra aroma to go with your pictures.  :)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Rye deficiency is an awful condition. I'm certainly glad relief is in sight ... errrrr ... scent!

Let's see photos, if you cannot post the smell.

David

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

David, the reviews of this book suggest it is not for the feint of heart and not for the home baker and certainly not for the beginning baker.

I have two books at the moment, Tartine from which I have made great bread and Bread Alone by Leader from which I have not baked anything.  I am definitely a beginner bread baker and have yet to bake anything without all purpose and white whole wheat (I did try some spelt once), and have a spouse who says she "hates rye bread".

My question is -- ought I to buy the book for this formula and will it make a bread that store-bought rye-bread haters will love? Even though she is a squishy white bread gal, she loves the sourdough tartine country loaf, but that is really a white bread and squishy at that....

I don't like the idea of buying a third book when I have baked from only one...

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I am not David but will jump in here and comment on the book Bread.

If you have a library I would suggest borrowing a copy to see if it is a book you would want to include in your library.  

It is an excellent book in that it teaches you very methodically how to bake a variety of breads very successfully.  If you are getting good results baking a Tartine loaf I do not see why you would have trouble baking the loaves in Bread.

The book not only has formulas for breads to bake but it is chock full of information that will only help improve your bread baking.  Your wife may only like white breads now but, if you start including other grains a bit at a time, you might be surprised by the results.

I don't know why you bake or how hooked on baking bread you are so you may not want all the information included in Bread.  But if you love baking it will only enhance your baking skills, which in my book, can't hurt anything.

Good Luck,

Janet

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Your local library should have or be able to borrow for you a copy of Bread. It is not just a cookbook for bread. It's also a reference book for bread science and techniques.

Now, regarding white bread addicts: Gradual substitution seems the best strategy. There is so much bad bread being sold, I imagine your wife's exposure to the quality of bread you will be able to bake at home is minimal.

There are some good breads and even better stories in Local Breads by Leader.  (I don't have Bread Alone.) There are also lots of errors in the formulas. I would particularly recommend the Polish and Czech breads. The Light Czech rye bread is very good and hardly resembles a heavy German rye. You might try that out on your wife.

Happy baking!

David

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Free 7 day trial of the 2d Edition, on my iPad through Amazon.  Now I have a good book to read on the train. :)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You can bake a lot of bread in 7 days, if you get organized!

David

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I won't get a single bake in this week as I have both kids while the Mrs. is out playing this weekend. But I will read the formula for this breas as well as anything else I can get through. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Seems like I discover at least one bread I've never noticed before each time I page through it. Hey! Maybe there is a bedtime story in there somewhere! ;-)

David

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

It is big but in the ipad size matters not. 

I already learned that what I thought of as rye bread and most certaiy what my wife has thought of it, is really an abomination masquerading as rye bread.  So, I look forward to making a loaf some time this Spring. Still, I will tread lightly until she develops her rye teeth. 

I also learned that my water may account for my sticky dough due to its lack of minerals. I may try baking from the tap instead of from my zero water filtered water. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

He did what Robertson should have done and put all of the lengthy textual material separate from the formulae. Sure, Tartine does that for the other loaves besides the learning one, but it really made baking the basic loaf much more difficult IMHO.

Hammelman has so much useful information in it, and I am only now just getting to to the appendix.  This loaf sounds like his favorite too!

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi David,

Now that you are into the science of baking another excellent book is Dan DiMuzio's BREAD BAKING.  It is a teaching text and formatted differently than BREAD but complements it well.  In some regards I find it easier to find specific information when I am in need of it.  

Have Fun,

Janet

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I will keep it in mind but right now I think my head would explode if I did not bake at least 2 excellent breads from Bread.  

I downloaded the kindle edition so it was super easy to annotate and bookmark on the tablet. 

I have to decide whether to buy it though. Maybe I will snap a picture of the 5 grain recipe and if it makes the Mrs. Happy, I will buy the book and then consider DiMuzio's book. I actually am not interested in the science. Just  what I need to know so I can bake the best bread my friends and family have ever eaten. 

jkandell's picture
jkandell

David, you can also use the tartine manipulation methods and Dutch oven bake with the Hamelman formulas. His recipes all assume you have a commercial mixer, so you have to adapt them anyway to "stretch and fold". I find his formulas and times work just as accurately with a forkish or tartine method: you just ignore hamelman's initial mixing instructions and add in one to three folds, and use robertson/Forkish baking temps. His doughs aren't as hydrated as tartine but they tend toward the wet side. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I've thought about doing this but haven't got around to it. Hmmm ... Maybe this weekend I will! Thanks for the prompt.

David

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

inside and out. Love the crumb and crust of this one and bet the taste has to be as good or better.  You craft your bread so well each and every time.  Lucy needs to get her recipes down to 5 grains :-)  So what % whole grain is in this mix? Well done and

Happy Baking

zoyerteyg's picture
zoyerteyg

You've done a wonderful bake, and as always I'm grateful for the array of helpful practical tips you included. I too am a devotee of Bread, have often gazed longingly at this recipe, and am even more tempted after your recommendation. What puts me off, as a hand kneader, is the 98% hydration level, which is nearly 20% more than I've ever attempted by hand even with a high proportion of whole-wheat or rye, and this is 75% bread flour.

I appreciate that almost half of the water is in the soaker, and will be partly absorbed by the grains, but even so... What would you advise? Do you think the dough would be manageable enough for hand-kneading, or could the hydration be cut back without an intolerable effect on the texture or flavour?

John

PS: Please don't tell me to get a mixer—we have enough stuff in the kitchen already.

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I don't know what method of kneading you use. The consistency of the dough is like that of a 70-75% dough. It's sticky but not gloppy. You could develop the gluten with stretch and folds (which I would prefer) or with traditional "kneading" with wet, oiled or floured hands. I bet you could manage. I wouldn't cut back on the water more than, say, 15-20 g, if any.

David

P.S. I don't think you need to get a mixer. :-)

zoyerteyg's picture
zoyerteyg

Thanks for the advice. I'll give it a go for my next effort after the challah I'm working on now and another loaf that's in the freezer. My kneading technique is generally to slap down, which is good for sticky but uncomfortable for glop because bits start to fly everywhere. It will be an interesting exercise regardless. I might reduce the water in the sort of range you suggest anyway, since I gather American wheat flours are more absorptive than they are elsewhere.

Thanks again,

John

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The bread is 25% whole wheat flour, 75% white. But that doesn't count the rye in the flour or the rolled oats which, together, amount to about 15%. 

I had some untested with cotswold cheese and some toasted with almond butter for breakfast. It's hard to say which was better, they were both so good.

David

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

whole grains at 95% hydration is pretty wet.  I have  105% whole grain, don't ask how but it has to do with thise Toadies,  autloysing at 95% hydration right now but planned in adding some water if it wouln't slap and fold  I gues I;; have to up the hydration to 125% :-)  We will see.....later tonight.  Great crumb David!

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hello David,  I have made it my 'policy' not to comment on bakes shared here and in turn choose not to share my bakes, but I cannot not comment on your stunning rendition of the 5 grain levain bread. I hope Mr Hamelman gets to see this thread. Whenever I bake I always make this bread and  ring the changes with some other formula, but this bread is my favourite. This week I am on a low residue diet having spent three days in hospital (first hospital stay in my life) with diverticulitis, fortunately the precautionary diet and the antibiotics will be over soon. I'm off to Japan next week for 5 weeks, so it'll be at least 6 weeks before I get back to my kitchen. The image of your bread will haunt me while am away!!  But I do love eating in Japan and there is amazing bread to buy there too. We get kibbled rye here in NZ and whenever I see you comment about the lack of cracked rye I wish it was practical to send you some by way of thanks for all I have learned from you. Does the thought count? Wonder where Mr Hamelman gets his?

Kind regards, Robyn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I appreciate your kind words.

It used to be diverticulitis was a contraindication to breads like this one, because of the seeds. But I am, no doubt, out of date on adult medicine. Miso soup is (more or less) to Japanese culture as chicken soup is to Jewish culture. It sounds like you are literally headed in the right direction. I certainly hope you recover quickly and enjoy your stay in Japan.

I've always assumed that Mr. Hamelman, being a honcho for King Arthur and all, has squires of the round table knights on call to sit with sacks of rye berries and little hammers and chisels to crack them as needed. I know some have used coffee/spice grinders. I've thought about running some rye berries through my KitchenAid mixer grain mill attachment at the coarsest setting. In fact, that's what I will do.

Robyn, I value your good thoughts much more highly than any amount of kibbled rye!

Happy baking!

David

 

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

I am always surprised at comments about the scarcity of cracked rye. I crack my own, but it is readily available online. For example, Bob's Red Mill has organic cracked rye available on his site or from Amazon for a very modest price.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Last time I searched for cracked rye I didn't find it either place. I appreciate the tip.

david

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Isn't cracked rye achievable with your mill? Seems a shame to have to buy a 7.5 pound bag of it if you can make it from the berries. 

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

Don't know where you are seeing 7.5 lb bags, but again, a 28 oz back of Bob's Red Mill Cracked Rye is available on Amazon for $8.50 with free shipping.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Case of four 28 ounce bags costs $11.79 from Bob's Red Mill. ($16 shipping)

I guess it is cheaper to buy one at 8 bucks with free shipping.

 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Well, this one just went on my need to bake soon list.  Seems like this one should have been there all along, so thanks for the reminder.  Great post David!

Marcus

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm sure you will be glad you baked it.

David

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I agree with you David.  This is one great formula, that finds it's way onto our kitchen counter more than any other bread.  It's simplicity in process and satisfying flavour, makes it a staple bread around here.  I first came across it when I first pondered the possibility of baking bread at home.  Falling in love with a loaf called 'Grainery Loaf' from a local major grocery store, I wondered if I could ever find a formula similar to it, and one that I could actually bake successfully.  After searching the internet, not knowing how to even begin describing the loaf, other than 'lots of seeds', and 'grains,' I found some photos on this website with crumb and crust that looked just like the 'Grainery Loaf.'  That is how I originally found this site and joined.  Turned out that the formula was VERY beginner friendly.  Also, we now enjoy a larger loaf at a price that is ridiculously cheaper than what we paid for in the grocery store.  Store price was about 5 - 6 dollars for a small loaf.  I did the food cost on a much larger loaf that I bake at home and it came to about 55 cents a loaf.  As I recall, I believe it was your post that I worked off of back then.  Thank you for the inspiration in baking then, and now :)

John

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You are clearly a man of discerning taste.

Happy baking!

David

sandydog's picture
sandydog

I agree with David Snyder - All Hamelman's (Prefermented) multi grain loaves are easy to make and taste fantastic.

I use rye flakes, which are available at a small "In store" health food section of my local Tesco store in Newcastle upon Tyne - This means I can use a cold soaker as they break down quite readily - Additionally, with all the salt in the soaker, you don't have to worry about overnight temperatures affecting enzymatic activity.

A local bakery sells a lot of the Pate fermentee version but, like David, my (And my wife's) favourite is the rye sourdough version on page 227 of the 2004 version of Bread - Only 25% Rye, but what a difference to taste and texture it makes, with great keeping qualities.

You got it right again David!

Happy baking,

 

Brian                                                                                                                                                                             Ps. Has anyone tried the straight dough version on Page 238? Looks interesting with the extra enrichments!

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