The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Sylviambt's picture

Thanks to all for advise. Next time round will

  • Fold twice instead just once
  • Will substitute one cup of bread flour with AP
Again, the recipe I used is from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread book.
Sylviambt's picture

My first baguettes are in their second rise under a canopy of dusted linen and plastic. I'm glad they're under wraps. They are undeniably ugly. Instead of rolling out slender columns of dough, I created things that look like squat electric eels, large cucumbers, chubby rolling pins. I hadn't allowed the dough to rest long enough after pre-shaping. Darn.

Well, we'll see what I end up with in two hours.


Bronx-to-Barn Baker

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, dear readers, despite my recent silence on the subject I have not given up on my baguette quest!  For the last few weeks, however, I'd gotten a little sick of blogging about it.  This week was fairly successful, however, and so I want to share, and request some feedback.

The main change from previous bakes is that a little over a week ago I got a shipment of baking toys, I mean, equipment from TMB/San Francisco Baking Institute.  I got 2 yards of 18-inch linen couche, a lame/blade holder with razor blades, a proofing board (which I've been using as an all-purpose bench board), and a flipping board.  With these, I was certain, many of my problems would be resolved (specifically, excess degassing when shaping and transfering, and ragged scoring).  The first bake with the new equipment (last week) was a little rough, but this week I had things sorted out.


Crumb - First Half

Crumb - Second Half

I'm getting there!  The slashing wasn't perfect, but it went much smoother with the new blade, resulting in at least two ears per baguette big enough to lift the loaf with.  Crust was decent if not exceptional, flavor was good.  Profile was nice and round, a nice change from some recent flatter bakes.  Crumb varied within the baguette I sliced (the one in the middle, up top) from good to great.

Here's where I'm looking for feedback: I'm still having problems with the crust bursting between cuts -- is this the result of under-proofing?  Or something else?  I could swear this batch was fully proofed, but I'm not necessarily a good judget of these things.

Happy baking, everyone,


varda's picture

Today was another snowday, so I again canceled a variety of plans to stay home with my son.   Amazing how nicely baking bread fits into that routine.   I had already planned to bake, but had no idea how I was going to fit it in, since I always manage to be out of the house at the exact moment that some essential step has to happen.   No such worries today.   I made Hamelman's 5 grain sourdough for the first time, as well as yet another iteration on my own elusive sourdough.  Actually I made Hamelman's 5 minus 1 plus replacements sourdough.  Since I don't like sunflower seeds, I upped the flax seeds and oats.  I don't have cracked rye (or know what it is) and had just bought a tiny bag of wheat berries, having no idea what to do with them, so I threw them into a coffee grinder and gave them a whirl, and voila - cracked something.   The resulting bread is just awesomely tasty.   Only after I tasted it did I run to this site and search, and see how them as come before me have raved about it.   Absolutely delicious, and compared to what I've been trying to make lately, like a walk in the park.   What other jewels is Hamelman hiding up his sleeve?   Not that he has any duds as far as I can tell.  But some are better than others, and this is just amazing.  

and rye and white sourdoughs side by side:

geraintbakesbread's picture

As someone who's always fed their sourdough culture 1:1:1 (i.e. equal amounts culture,flour,water: keeps things simple!, although for flour I use 2/3rds wholemeal to 1/3rd white), making a 1:5:6 (culture,flour,water) 'levain build' was a bit daunting. I needn't have worried, as the levain was perfectly active by mid-morning when I was ready to bake.

I let the oats soak in water for 10mins then added & mixed the rest of the ingredients except the sultanas (UK=golden raisins?) which I added after 40 mins. I did almost no kneading, just briefly after mixing to make sure the ingredients were fully incorporatedacclimatise & again briefly after adding the sultanas. The dough, which was tacky but not sticky (drier than I'm used to), passed the windowpane test before I added the sultanas.

I gave the dough an air-fold after an hour. An hour later, when I should have been shaping, my partner Tess was dragging me out of the house on account of it being a beautiful day (& I think she was trying to avoid some onerous paperwork!), so I put the dough in the fridge.

2.5 hours later the dough was back out of the fridge, and after another hour to reacclimatise, I scaled it 2x500g & preshaped round; 25mins later I shaped two batards & put them in floured bannetons. Another 1.5 hours and they were ready for baking; after 35 mins, these emerged:

Nice springy crumb, with the creaminess you get from oats & no discernible sourdough flavour (due probably to the small proportion of mature culture used in the build), but lots of sultana taste. Great with butter & I'm sure even better toasted after a few days.

geraintbakesbread's picture

I had a busy day in the kitchen yesterday: as well as the semolina w/fennel bread ( & a Christopomos for the BBA challenge I'm participating in at, I had a go at the ciabatta with biga.

I used some Italian '00' flour that I haven't used before:

Protein content is 11%. Reading through other posts at (again, after I'd baked!), it sounds like Hamelman's recipes are geared to stronger American flours. I might give this another go using Doves Farm Organic White (12.5% protein) for comparison (I realise it's not just protein levels that determine gluten quality).

I don't have a mixer so kneading higher hydration doughs can be a challenge. I often use Dan Lepard's no knead method, but wanted to get this done fairly quickly & also wanted to see how well I could manage by hand. I made use of a tip I've picked up along the way, i.e. starting off with less water until the gluten is fairly well developed, then gradually adding the rest. I began by mixing the dough at 65% hydration; this was still very wet, so I used the French method of kneading that I'm sure many of you are familiar with (if not, video here:

I did this for about 15mins before incorporating the biga, and 10mins later, the rest of the water, which took a further 10.

I performed the folds at 1 & 2hrs, & scaled at 3x500g after 3hrs and left them to proove on floured boards. I somehow missed the bit saying: cover with linen & then plastic, and just used plastic, which was a bit sticky when it came to uncovering them 2hrs later!

Then came the bit which confuses me slightly: Hamelman writes about how fragile they are & not to sneeze near them & yet you're supposed to perform a flip?! Needless to say, they degassed considerably during this operation:

I don't know why I followed this procedure with all three; I wish now I'd baked one without flipping to see how it differed.They all baked well, one after the other, with almost no discernible difference in final appearance, in spite of the fact the last one went in an hour and a half after the first.

I was really pleased with the crust, but a little disappointed with the hole size/distribution. It was good to eat though: I ate half a loaf straight away!

More images at

geraintbakesbread's picture

I made this bread as a result of having recently joined the site where members bake their way through Jeffrey Hamelman's 'Bread' book.

I love fennel seeds & really enjoyed a semolina bread I made using a Carol Field recipe (from 'The Italian Baker'), so I was looking forward to this.

I made my soaker with millet flakes, along with the wheat flakes & coarse polenta. I wasn't sure how Hamelman defines 'hot', nor how long to soak, but used water at 50oc (122F) and soaked overnight.

For the first time ever, I used the DDT formula to calculate the water temp for the dough, which again needed to be 50oc. Even so, I didn't quite reach the recipe DDT of 76F, the dough being 72F after kneading. Nevertheless, the fermentation times were fairly close to those in the recipe.

The loaves (scaled at 2x488g) came out looking great:

It has a thin chewy crust & springy chewy crumb. The flavour is intriguing - certainly not a wow - but I enjoy the little bursts of fennel & the creaminess imparted by the soaker. I will be interested to see how the flavours develop overnight & also to try it toasted.

We're having hake tonight & I think this should go quite well with it. I'm sure it would be good with a simple white bean soup.

varda's picture

In trying to digest all the helpful advice I received from this list on managing fermenting, shaping, scoring, proper sourdough culture and so forth, I found myself in areas of Hamelman where I had never wandered before.   I looked with some amazement at the instructions for Three stage 90% Sourdough Rye.  This uses the Detmolder method of rye bread production.   What struck me as altogether improbable, is that you start with a teaspoon - yes that is .1 oz, or less than 3 grams - of ripe starter and build it up to a pound and a half (672g) over the course of around 24 hours, in three stages with each stage oriented to developing a different characteristic of the starter.   I admit, I wondered if this would work for a mortal baker such as myself, but I happened to have the necessary ingredients around (more or less) so I set off to see if an actual bread could be produced.   The instructions in Hamelman (page 201 in my version of Bread) are quite clear.   I followed his three stages carefully - and starting with a teaspoon of starter, produced a very pitted and expanded rye starter by the time it was ready to bake.   The final dough calls for medium rye, which I didn't have so I used 60% white rye, and 40% whole rye.   The instructions call for a bulk ferment time of 20 minutes, and final proof of around an hour.   I had to call off the latter after 40 minutes because it had almost tripled in size  was getting too big for my stone.   The instructions called for scoring with a dough docker, which I don't have, so instead I stippled with a skewer.   The dough also seemed to stipple itself, so it was very holey by the time it was ready to go into the oven.   Finally the house filled with an almost overwhelming scent of toasted rye.   And an improbable loaf is now resting on my counter soon to be wrapped up in linen and cut and tasted tomorrow. 

The stippling:

and profile:

and finally the crumb:

It's hard to assess this, since I've never actually eaten this type of bread before, and I don't know either what it's supposed to look like or what it should taste like.   But just as a lay opinion on the matter, and after only a couple of bites, I would say yum!  

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I'm still at it.  We were at my parents' place on Saturday (Christmas day), and while I did end up baking a batch of Italian bread for Christmas dinner, there were no baguettes.  But we got home Saturday night, and I actually felt in the mood for baguettes.  I made up the poolish, increasing the yeast slightly from last week so it would ripen before late afternoon, and sunday I made yet another batch of the Hamelman Baguettes with Poolish.

While mixing, I realized that last week, and at least one previous week, I'd been adding too much yeast to the final dough--Hamelman says to use .13 oz of instant yeast for a full batch, and last week I definitely used .13 oz in my half batch.  Heaven knows what that's been doing to my baking.  Last week I think it turned out okay (well, better than okay) in part because the poolish was so sluggish.  Anyway, this week I used the correct 0.067 oz yeast (yay for having a scale accurate to the 0.001 oz eh?).

Besides the yeast adjustments, no changes from last week.  I used Cyril Hitz's rolling method for shaping again, but was better at it.





Needless to say, I'm very pleased with these baguettes.  Great caramelization of the crust, decent ears and placement of the scores.  Crust was pleasantly crisp, although not as perfect as last week.  Nice open crumb, with a nice nutty flavor.  Only downsides: a bit flat (and with tight crumb) in between scores, and the bottoms got over-dark (and tasted a little burnt).

I think perhaps I under-proofed as well--there's a little bursting in between the scores on one baguette, and I seem to recall having the bread "bulge" at the scores is another indication of under-proofing. I still have yet to master the "poke" test, it seems.


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