The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Sjadad's picture

It's been too long since I baked up some Vermont Sourdough, so that was today's bake. Why have I waited so long?!   The loaves sang as soon as they emerged from the oven, and the crust developed those beautiful hairline fissures we all aspire to achieve. 


Steve H's picture

Hamelman-esque Sourdough Pizza Dough

November 10, 2012 - 6:05am -- Steve H

I am trying to make a sourdough pizza based upon my favorite sourdough recipe, the Hamelman Vermont Sourdough. I've decided that the way to do this is to try to adapt the sourdough recipe to the pizza dough recipe in his Bread book. I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions since this is the first time I have tried to adapt one of the recipes this dramatically:

Vermont Sourdough Pizza Dough

Overall Formula


mrosen814's picture

Bagels: Tough Tops

November 8, 2012 - 6:09pm -- mrosen814

Hi all, 

I just made a batch of Hamelman's bagels and I think they turned out well. I am an U.S. expat here in Australia and I have yet to find a decent bagel! I have also been unable to source high-gluten flour, though, I can get bread flour and I add some vital wheat gluten to that. 

I have noticed that with these bagels (and others I have made), the tops are very tough/hard. They're also too thick, I think. Could this be an oven issue? Too long in the boiling water? Flour type?



ericb's picture

Hamelman light rye without yeast?

October 14, 2012 - 8:25am -- ericb

I am planning on baking a loaf of Hamelman's Light Rye tonight, but I'm considering making it without commercial yeast. I was wondering if anyone has experience doing this with this specific recipe.

For doughs developed using the Detmolder method, Hamelman says that commercial yeast is unnecessary, provided the baker builds in some extra time for proofing. However, he does not give a specific time. Besides, I'm not sure that this applies to doughs made using the simpler method outlined in the Light Rye recipe.'s picture

Ok, maybe French Toast.  But I heard this reference to Elizabeth David's easy-peasy Summer Pudding recipe by Linda Wertheimer on NPR a while back and thought this has to be a sign:  A use for one formula in my Summer 2012 Tour de Hamelman that I would otherwise have been hard pressed to find, and a smashing crop of raspberries just pouring off our vines this year (plus some market-sourced blueberries).  Pain de Mie would have sufficed, but Chef Jeff's Toast Bread's slightly elevated richness seemed more appropriate.  As a straight dough, its ease of prep fits with the no-frills simplicity of Elizabeth David's recipe, offered here in the Oxford Times.


Can't go too far wrong with a desert consisting of nothing more than bread, fresh fruit and sugar.  With a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, this is one utterly satisfying seasonal pleasure.



jefklak's picture

I have been baking sourdough for three months now and it's starting to come together. I'm working through Mr. Hamelman's BREAD book (with other mellow bakers) and I've experimented with a few of the recipes I have found to be the tastiest (and easiest to bake). I've derived a base recipe based upon the "pain au levain with wholewheat" recipe. I know a lot of people out here love the "Vermont Sourdough" (which I also do), but I love wholewheat and don't see a lot of difference. 

Read more here:

It's the first time since I've seriously tried to employ the french fold technique, and it really does work wonders with wetter doughs. I've had a lot of trouble trying to mix these by hand (I refuse to use mechanical kneading). I've modified the recipe to allow for a higher hydratation value (as wholewheat does soak up a lot more water):


  • 145gr. stone-ground organic wholewheat flour (got at a local mill)
  • 10gr medium rye flour
  • 145gr water
  • 2 tablespoons of your starter (mine’s a white wheat 100% hydratation one)
final build
  • 605gr high-protein flour (all-purpose bread flour will do nicely, I didn’t have any at this point)
  • 40gr medium rye flour
  • 200gr wholewheat flour (also finely stone-ground)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 590gr water
  • the preferment
This should give you a 65% wholegrain bread with 73% hydratation. These are the methods I've used:
  1. autolyse for 30-60 minutes
  2. french fold (still very sticky & wet, stopped doing this after about 10 minutes)
  3. stretch & fold 3 times during 2 hours as the dough is still very slack due to the hydratation level
  4. retarding final proofing in baskets in the fridge

I love the big holes in the bread, it was very "mushy" and has a good bite, but there was only one problem, I want a more sour bread (not tangy but mellowy now)

I retarded the bread for 24 hours as an experiment, and another loaf for 40 hours. 
After baking the latter showed clear forms of overproofing (very flat, lost it's strength after pushing it onto the baking sheet)

I wanted to taste the difference but could not find any difference! Wow, how come?
Tried another taste test this morning and let my girlfriend do the same, same conclusion - we could not find any difference. Strange.


I'm baking the very same thing right now, but tried another thing: 100% hydratation preferment and 24 hours of resting  on the counter instead of 12 hours. It really smelled sour (!), hopefully it'll help. I did accidentally mess up the flour/water ratio and now it's close to 75% (gave me a lot of trouble with french folding and shaping)
Conclusion: still need to wait for the last bake, but 24 hours retarding > 40 to keep the form but not for the taste.  

jefklak's picture

You can read the whole story and see more pictures at:

It's the first time I've tried to bake a "full" wholegrain bread using more than half (whole)rye. I've basically followed the recipe from Mr. Hamelman's excellent BREAD book but was unable to find any chopped rye of rye grains in my area. I bought rye flakes instead. The problem with that is the equal amount water/flakes does not completely match (flakes are bigger and not completely submerged into the hot water). 

The sourdough and soaker was prepared and left at the kitchen table for 15 hours. 
I think I didn't let it proof long enough (1 hour at 30°C, trying to maintain that temperature in the microwave with some preheating). It did rise a bit in the pullman tin but not much. The result is an extremely dense bread (sliced after 24 hours being wrapped in a towel) - a thin slice weighs 40gr! 

I'd love some feedback from all experts as I think a lot of things could be better. The dough was very dense and sticky (as it should be, I think) but others who baked using this recipe found it to be more like a batter and they "poured" it into the pan. I could shape it into a brick but that's it, and threw it in there. 


There are tiny holes in the bread and the smell and taste is great, tangy and sour just like I love it. I used a stiff rye starter (which I created 1.5weeks before baking, based on my 3 month old 100% hydratation white wheat starter. I know it's not the same thing as creating a rye starter from scratch but hey does it matter that much?)

Thanks for reading!

yy's picture

Hamelman's Bread - 2nd edition cover

June 7, 2012 - 9:24am -- yy

Hi everyone.

Just curious what you guys think about the new cover for the 2nd edition of Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread. The first edition cover is below on the left and the second edition cover is on the right. I know this isn't directly related to bread, but I figured there are quite a few of us who have opinions on aesthetics. 


MarieH's picture

Hi everyone. Even though I have been baking, I haven’t posted in quite awhile. This semolina bread is from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread book. It uses a flying sponge which allows the baker to start and finish a bake all in one day. Great for the absentminded who forget to build a levain the night before! A flying sponge uses commercial yeast along with flour and water and ferments for about 75 minutes.

I had mixed the final dough and just put it in the proofer when I noticed the bottle of olive oil on the counter looking forgotten. Aargh – I pulled the bowl out of the proofer, added the oil, and mixed for about a minute till incorporated. No damage. This is why I almost always do mise en place so I don’t miss an ingredient.

I have just one banneton so I used one mixing bowl with a floured linen cloth for proofing. The shaped loaves outside for a quick picture in the Florida sunlight.

Loaded in the proofer with their plastic caps on. I use shower caps (disposable ones from a hotel) to cover the proofing baskets. Shower caps work well on the bowls for building a levain and bulk fermenting and on loaf pans too!

The finished product. The flavor profile is deep and complex even with a flying sponge.

And the texture is creamy and soft. The crust layers are light, flaky, and crisp. Can’t wait to take a bite!

Bake often ~ Marie


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