The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


yy's picture

Thanks to Weekend Bakery's extremely helpful Croissant Making Log, I finally made a batch of croissants that I'm happy with (see link for formula and tips). I made a couple of changes to the Hamelman formula used in the Weekend Bakery log: I used 4 grams of SAF gold osmotolerant yeast instead of 11 g of regular instant yeast (11 g is a huge amount of yeast, which I don't think is necessary if you use a yeast that can stand up to the sugar content in the dough), and I added a teaspoon of barley malt syrup for flavor.  Last time I made croissants was about a year ago, and the attempt was not so successful. I feel like I learned a lot from comparing that bake to this one:

1. Last time: the dough was mixed for too long and got too developed. This made it impossible to roll out the layers. It was like wrestling with a rubber band. Not only did this make the process hard on the arms, it also resulted in thicker, doughier layers because the dough could not relax enough to be rolled out thinly. 

This time: I mixed the dough until uniform and gluten formation had barely begun. As Ciril Hitz says in Baking Artisan Bread, gluten development should happen in the course of being rolled out (stretched) during the lamination steps. There is no need to fully develop the gluten in the beginning. 

2. Last time: The butter layer shattered into several small pieces instead of spreading out uniformly, due to being too cold. A number of authors advise you to freeze the dough between lamination steps for about 20-30 minutes, arguing that this will make the butter and dough the right consistency to roll out. 

This time: I just used the fridge instead of the freezer. I used Kerrygold butter, which has fat content equivalent to typical European butters, so at 38 degrees, it is stiff yet pliable. I guess this depends on how cold your freezer is. Mine is kept at a frosty -2 Fahrenheit. 

3. Last time: Croissants were underproofed, so the butter leaked out very badly during baking.

This time: I proofed until the croissants were "jiggly" and very puffy. While there was still a tiny bit of butter meltage, it was not nearly as bad as last time.  

Here were the results from today:

The crust was so light and the crumb was so tender that they started shattering under the slight pressure of my fingers while being transferred to the cooling rack. The croissants are shatteringly crisp on the outside and moist and light on the inside. The crumb shreds into transparent sheets. I highly recommend the Weekend Bakery tutorial.

I've frozen half the batch, so it'll be interesting to see whether this affects the taste and texture. Happy Sunday, everyone!


smoke signals's picture
smoke signals

Earlier this week I had a dream about ham & cheese on baguette. Since this was a dream that I could turn into reality, I took up the task of making some baguettes. So many dreams just stay dreams, when you have one within reach: grab it.

I turned to Jeffery Hamelman’s book, Bread, and to an old bakery formula I had from years ago working as a baguette mixer at Red Hen. Pretty strait forward, poolish recipe. But how awesome simple formulas can be! To my delight these baguettes crackled, and tasted like butter and nuts and wheat. It was hard to bake them long enough because I kept wanting to pull them out of and eat them in one, huge bite. 

Dear Baguette,

I am sorry we were apart for so long. I took you for granted. One day you just weren’t there anymore. Maybe the separation did us both some good. I’ve moved a couple of times, have a new boyfriend, in general, things are progressing. But maybe we could think about spending some time together again. I really love the way you smell.

Yours Truly, Smoke Signals  





meshugaforbread's picture

Help! Hamelman's Stiff Levain

December 23, 2011 - 3:44pm -- meshugaforbread

Hi Fresh Loaf Loyalist.

I'm very excited to be making my first post. I've been reading for the past year. I am new to the bread world and am currently attempting my first levain. I've made poolishe's, biga's etc... but never a levain and I'm having a lot of trouble.

I just finished the intial mix and its so dry. I know its bad to add extra water but I thought b/c i didn't weigh it perhaps there was too much flour from my rye as it could have been a heavier flour. This didn't help. Is it suppoed to be this dry?

MarieH's picture

Today I made my first baguettes. I have shied away from the intimidating baguette - the shaping, the proofing, the scary, scary slashing! But I have made enough boules, batards, and rolls to gain confidence in my skills. I am quite pleased with my first attempt. Like all things baking, improvement will come with experience and practice. The recipe is from Hamelman's Bread: Baguettes with Pate Fermentee. While the crumb is not as open as it should be, the flavor is delicious and the texture light and airy. Good enough to do a happy dance in the kitchen (with only the cats to appreciate)! Thanks to all the baguette bakers who have posted inspiration.

Happy baking,


MarieH's picture

Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough is one of my favorite recipes. It is so consistent in both flavor and texture. It’s hard to mess up this formula. It’s still pretty warm in Tallahassee, FL so paying attention to the Desired Dough Temperature (DDT) is important. Following Hamelman’s instructions I needed chilly water.

Desired Dough Temperature           76

Multiplication Factor                         4

Total Temperature Factor                304

Minus Flour Temperature                71

Minus Room Temperature               78

Minus Pre-ferment Temperature     75

Minus Friction Factor                       26

Water Temperature                          54

I started the levain build yesterday at 6:30 p.m. and started the dough at 7:30 a.m. today. I created a timing chart to help me along the way.

The finished batards...

codruta's picture

hello from Timisoara!

I baked recently "Roasted Hazelnut and Prune Bread" from Hamelman book, page 185. I removed the butter and the instant yeast, and I increased the hydration from 66% to 68%, and I left the dough in the fridge overnight for the final fermentation.

The bad: I didn't know what to expect of it, I ezitated when I slashed it, cause it's still not clear for me when I have to give a perpendicular slash (with a straight lame) or an "almost-parallel-with-the-surface" kind of slash (does the shape of bread dictate it, or the kind of bread -rye, whole-wheat, white). The bread didn't have a spectacular oven spring. I think I incorporated a little raw flour in the dough when I shaped it (or else why do some prunes have a dry layer around them?). I think I could have roasted the hazelnuts for a longer time. I wish the prunes were more even distributed.

The good: I like the crumb, the contrast of textures and colours. I loved the combination of sweet, sour and nutty. Lovely for breakfast, with a cup of coffee aside. Lovely with goat cheese, or other kinds of cheese. Excellent with butter. I regret I didn't try to toast it...

For those who haven't tried it yet, I absolutely recomend it.

I decided to make this bread, because food-bloggers from Romania make a dish every month, with a chosen theme; and for august the theme was the plum. (They accepted me with prunes.) The challenge is called "Sweet Romania" and I was glad that I could participated with this lovely bread.

The recipe and details can be found here on my romanian blog Apa.Faina.Sare.

codruta's picture

Hi from Timisoara! This bread is adapted from Hamelman's book, page 172. A couple of weeks ago while making this bread, I posted a question on forum, link here. The dough felt very stiff, even though I increased the hydration a little over 74%. I omited the yeast from the recipe, and I adapted the fermentation time.

Overall formula was 348 g bread flour, 87 g whole wheat flour, 325 g water, 9 g salt, 44 g old fashioned rolled oats, 110 g raisins. (The prefermented flour was 15% from the total amount of flour, and the levain was liquid, at 125% hydration). First fermentation was two hours, with 2 S-F (it was a very hot day, that day), second fermentation was 8 hours in the fridge (overnight) and 1:30...2 hours at room temperature (in the morning)

This is how the bread turned out. I was surprised to see how light and open is the crumb, with all the raisins and rolled oats, and whole wheat in the dough. I think it was a good bread, we (me and my boyfriend) enjoyed eating it with butter and coffee, or cheese. The boule was a present for a dear friend blonde lady, so I don't have photos of the crumb.

I don't know why, but this bread makes me think of summer, hot sun, and laziness.

Complete recipe and more photos can be found on my romanian blog, with translation available, Apa.Faina.Sare., link here.


dmsnyder's picture

We've been traveling a lot the past few months, and I haven't had many weekends at home to bake. Now, we'll be home for a few weeks, and I can bake more regularly. This weekend, I baked two of my current favorites – the SFBI Miche and Hamelman's Pain au Levain. (See: Miche from SFBI Artisan II - 2 kg. The formula for the Pain au Levain is found in Hamelman's "Bread.")

After a long, cool Spring, we're starting to get some Summer weather. It's been in the low 90's. Temperatures of 105ºF are predicted for the middle of the coming week. Frankly, I could do without the 105º days, but my starter and doughs are enjoying the warmer kitchen temperature. My old dictum - “Watch the dough, not the clock” - was applied. For example, the pain au levain, which Hamelman says to proof for 2 1/2 hours was ready to bake in 90 minutes after shaping. I feared the bâtards were a bit over-proofed, but the oven spring and bloom I got suggest proofing was pretty much on target.

SFBI Miche

Miche crust

Miche crumb

Pain au Levain

Pain au Levain, up close

One thing I learned and applied for this bake of the pain au levain: The last few bakes of this bread have had many excessively large holes. I suspected this was due to insufficient de-gassing before pre-shaping. So, this time, I de-gassed a bit more vigorously. I like the results.


Pain au Levain crumb

Happy Baking! And Happy Father's Day to all you fathers!



codruta's picture

This bread is problably a classic, everybody seems to love it. And how comes one not to? I usually try to bake and eat more whole wheat breads, but this bread is hard to resist to. I followed the recipe "by the book", with 10 hours retard in the fridge, baking them directly from the fridge, and I suspect both breads were just a little bit underproofed. Probably an hour at room temperature would have been a better thing to do. I didn't manage to score the boule as it should have been done (I'm not good with boules, in fact this is my best boule so far, usually I ended up with a round flat mass of dough), but both loafs were a pure delight to eat. I've never seen a loaf (in my home) to disappear so quickly, and the name that I gave to this bread, translated from romanian, is "The bread with taste of home"

for the boule shaping, I tried to follow teresa's instructions from this video.

here are some pictures.

for more pictures and recipe (in romanian, with (funny) english tranlation available on the sidebar) go to Apa.Faina.Sare.

cheers, Codruta


Subscribe to RSS - Hamelman