The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


varda's picture

Yesterday I tried my hand at a miche after reading so much about these loaves on this site.   I must admit that I had to restrain myself from dividing it into three loaves as I was wondering what a three person household was going to do with an almost four pound loaf.  I tried Hamelman's Pointe-a-Calliere (page 164 of Bread.)   I had to make a few modifications.   I was planning to do 85% whole wheat flour, 15% AP, but ended up with around 60-40 because I was lower on whole wheat flour than I had thought.    Since I was baking in my clay oven which has a fairly narrow door, I found that the dough had grown so large that I had to make an oval rather than round loaf, and again because of the oven, I took it out after 45 minutes instead of the full hour since it was already quite cooked and would have turned into a cinder after any longer.  But I did follow the instructions to wait a full 12 hours before slicing despite my usual impatience in these matters.   And after all that?   Wow.   That is a delicious bread.   It is very hearty.   A slice with a bit of peanut butter makes a substantial meal.  But will we eat the whole thing?   I guess it depends how long it remains fresh, which I've yet to see. 



varda's picture

I continue to bake in my mud oven - in fact I haven't baked any bread at all in my "indoor" oven so far this summer.   It is a steep learning curve.   Since I last posted, I have added a thermometer and a door (essential) a peel (helpful) and have started to use parchment paper to keep things cleaner.   I continue to make my slow progress through Hamelman's Bread.   Today I tried Semolina with a levain.  (page 171)   I split it into three small loaves which are a bit more manageable.    Here they are. 

and the crumb

When I finished baking, I put tonight's dinner (chicken and vegetables) in a dutch oven into the oven and let it cook with the "leftover" heat for several hours.   And served with bread of course.

benjamin's picture

I've been taking it easy with the baking lately due to the excessive heat in center city Philadelphia, which has been hovering around 100 for the past few days now. I always feel guilty running the air conditioners and the oven at full tilt simultaneously, half expecting Al Gore to knock on my door and give me a lecture. Regardless, I had the itch to bake, and so I went back to one of my favorite recipes, the Vermont sourdough from 'Bread'.


Levain Build

  • Bread flour: 4.8oz

  • Water: 6oz

  • Mature culture (firm): 1oz

Final Dough

  • Bread flour: 1lb, 8oz

  • Whole-rye flour: 3.2oz

  • Water: 14.8oz

  • Salt: 0.6oz

  • levain: all of above

The levain should be made 12-16 hours prior to the final dough, however with the high temperatures of the day I only gave mine 10 hours.

Mix all of the ingredients for the final dough, less the salt and allow to autolyse for 20 min. Add the salt and mix for 2min.

Bulk ferment for 2.5hr with 2 stretch and folds.

I used all of the dough to make a single boule. Proofed for 1.5hrs... again this was shortened from the actual recipe due to excessive heat in my apartment.

Bake @ 460 for 40 min (first 10 covered).



Happy baking


MmeZeeZee's picture

Adding more whole wheat to Hamelman's Pain au Levain w/ Whole Wheat

June 19, 2010 - 4:34am -- MmeZeeZee

Has anyone had success with this?  I love his PaL but I am want a 50% (at least) sourdough.  Does anyone have a formula that would help me work this in?  I've had great success with the white and whole wheat PaL, I just want to get a better whole wheat version.  I know that will change the consistency a bit, but hopefully it will still retain some of its lovely chewiness.

jennyloh's picture

Somehow,  my miche was NOT quite a miche,  as it had a darker brown.  I wonder if my flour has a mixed of rye,  it turns my bread dark brown.  I went into the website - Aurora - Weizen Vollkornmehl.  But there was no indication of rye mix,  it just indicated whole grain whole wheat.  I guess it has more bran than other whole wheat flour?

My bread cracked up as well,  I guess because I baked it cold,  and its suppose to flat out,  but I put it into a claypot?

Perhaps someone can enlighten me?


The crumbs were denser than I like.  Somehow, most of my whole wheat breads turn out like that,  I've changed my technique to stretch and fold,  the white breads turn out very very well,  but not whole wheat.  Why?  Do I have to do more stretch and fold?  



Last question:  We seldom eat wholemeal bread.  What does wholemeal bread goes well with besides cheese?


More details - click here.



varda's picture

Today I made Hamelman's poolish baguettes.   Which retaught me a lesson I've already learned which is that making baguettes is hard.   A month or two ago, I tried the Bouabsa formula several times, without having any idea that it wasn't reasonable to start one's baguette making career with that, so I backed off to Hamelman which I think is quite delicious in its own right.   But it is still hard for the novice bread baker.  

From this side it doesn't look so bad -

From this side, not so much ...

All I can say is thank god for bagels which are tasty and rewarding -

varda's picture

Sometimes baking bread seems to be about the challenge and developing the skills and trying new things and so forth.   And sometimes it is all about making what you want to eat.   When I started bread-making in earnest in January, I suddenly lost my taste for the supermarket bagels I'd been eating happily for several years.   Since there is no good bagel place in my immediate area, I simply stopped eating bagels.  But then many of you just kept posting and posting and posting your various bagel bakes, and I couldn't stand it anymore.   So I decided to try Hamelman's approach, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it relatively simple, but geez, it tastes like the bagels that I used to eat way back in the day, when a New York baker moved to St. Louis, got in a taxi cab and told the driver to take him to the Jewish section of town.   This was back in the sixties, and such a thing had not been seen in St. Louis before.   My father used to come home with dozens and dozens of bagels, and somehow we managed to eat them all.   Usually when I make something, it doesn't come out just how I like it, and I fiddle and fiddle or switch approaches a half dozen or so times, and possibly make something better over time, and possibly not.   But unless someone has a compelling argument that their bagel formula is better than Hamelman's I'm just going to stick with it, and focus on learning how to shape better.   Thanks for all the inspiration to you bagel bakers out there.   Now I have what I want to eat.   -Varda

And all ready for creamcheese.


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