The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Steve H's picture

Question Regarding Vermont Rye Sourdough Retardation

June 3, 2009 - 2:28pm -- Steve H

I made Hamelman's Vermont Rye again the other day and it didn't really come out right.  After letting the levain sit for 15 hours, I made the final dough and threw it in the fridge for bulk fermentation overnight.  The next morning it had grown in size somewhat but was so soupy (somewhere between batter and dough) I couldn't handle it.  Furthermore, I had to add a ton of flour just to get it to the point where I could feel comfortable transferring it to a banneton.  I then retarded it for another 12 hours and baked it..  It came out alright, if a bit spongy.


SallyBR's picture

Hamelman's Pain au Levain

May 24, 2009 - 2:26pm -- SallyBR

Today I made Hamelman's Pain au Levain - recipe on page 158 of his book BREAD 


For months now I've been baking his Vermont Sourdough series every weekend, allowing the shaped boule to retard overnight.

This recipe is slightly different - a little rye flour is used in the starter, and also in the dough. He does not recommend retarding the bread, instead it should be baked after 2 - 2.5 hs final rise at room temperature.

IN a way, it is a pretty "quick" method for a sourdough, and I did not know how it would turn out.

flour-girl's picture

Hamelman's Pain Rustique

May 1, 2009 - 10:01am -- flour-girl

I don't have much experience with wet doughs, but I just pulled three loaves of Hamelman's Pain Rustique out of the oven and I'm fairly pleased with how they turned out. (Haven't done a taste-test yet ...)

You can check out a photo and see the recipe, if you like, over at Flour Girl.

Have a great weekend ... Happy baking,

Flour Girl

SallyBR's picture

Question on Hamelman's Olive Levain

May 1, 2009 - 6:53am -- SallyBR

I am making this bread tonight to bake tomorrow - in his recipe, he says the bread profits from retarding the shaped loaves, which I will do


but it does not say if they can be baked straight from the fridge, or if they should stay at room temp for a few hours.


has anoone made this bread? I think I will remove it from the fridge and leave it for 3 hours over the counter, since I've been doing this for his Vermont sourdough and works fine, but if anyone has specific instructions, I am all ears!



ein's picture

Hamelman's Natural Leaven Class Report

April 28, 2009 - 7:55am -- ein

I just returned from the King Arthur Flour Co’s Baking Education Center and wanted to share my experience taking the 10hr, day and a half class:  “Naturally Leavened Breads” with Jeffrey Hamelman. Being greeted by sunny 70 degree weather in beautiful Vermont was a great way to start the day and the Education Center is a light and airy building with lots of well managed work space. 

flour-girl's picture

my first loaves of sourdough

April 15, 2009 - 11:58am -- flour-girl

Hi --

I just pulled my first loaves of sourdough from the oven. I made Jeffrey Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, starting with his liquid levain culture which I began 10 days ago.

I'm not sure how I did. The loaves didn't spring up much in the oven, but there's a pretty nice crumb and crust.

Maybe my starter needs more maturity? Any other ideas?

If you want to help diagnose my attempt, check out my blog at Flour Girl.

gavinc's picture

Vermont Sourdoughs from Rosebud

April 8, 2009 - 3:34am -- gavinc

Since starting my new culture using Debra Wink's method, my Sourdoughs have taken on a new look, feel and taste.  I'm very pleased.  The oven spring has increased and the feel of the dough when folding is different than before.  I feel like I've come of age!!  These Vermont Sourdoughs (Jeffrey Hamelman) were baked yesterday; one batard and one boule.  I've also recalculated the recipe for a final dough weight of 750 g which suits my new brotforms.  Both weighed 680 g after baking.

flour-girl's picture

lame newbie sourdough question

April 6, 2009 - 7:09pm -- flour-girl

So, I just got Hamelman's "Bread" and immediately mixed up his Liquid Levain culture. It is nice and bubbly after two feeds today and I'm hopeful that I can follow his instructions over the next week or so to wind up with a viable starter.

I don't feel like his book, though, addresses how to take care of the starter once you've cultivated it.

Say I'll only be making sourdough bread once a week or so ... How often should I be feeding it? How much should I be feeding it? Should I be storing it in the refrigerator?


xaipete's picture

Thank you, David, for the title (AKA the little SD starter that could); it really was a long series of events! It began Friday night when I was trying again to finish part one of Little Dorrit, but, alas, I fell asleep again. When I awoke, with my neck aching, I stumbled into the kitchen and began throwing together the levain for Leader's sourdough rye loaves. Earlier in the day I had calculated that I needed to get this going just before bed if I wanted to bake the loaves the following day. When the levain was accomplished, I stashed it in the water heater closet, which maintains a nightly temperature of about 73º F, for overnight fermentation.

At about 9 AM the next morning I pulled the levain and from its incubator and began mixing the dough. By 9:30 AM with the flour and water hydrated and the levain and salt mixed, I began the machine knead, which needed a lot of manual help in my 1976 KA--there was much stopping and starting, and repositioning, wet bowl scraper in hand, until the battle of woman over machine was won, and dough decided it would after all sit on the "C" hook. Leader said to knead on "2" for a minutes and then on "4" for 8 to 9 minutes, but at about 6 minutes in on speed "4" the dough that had been behaving nicely all of a sudden melted off the hook and lay in the bottom of the bowl, so I decided it was probably kneaded enough. I stopped the machine, scraped it into the proofing bowl and let it rest for an hour.

10:45 AM: After performing one stretch and fold on the dough and being pleased with its structure, I returned the nice little ball to its proofing bowl, stashed in back in the water heater closet and set my timer for 3 hours.

1:45 PM: After checking on its progress, or in my case lack of progress, over the course of the previous hour I began to get a little worried. Which starter had I used last night, the weaker bread flour or the stronger whole wheat flour one? I couldn't recall exactly. I had meant to use the whole wheat flour starter, but doubt was setting in. And, there were also considerations about the cheese. I had made a special trip to acquire the precise cheese needed, bleu d'Auvergne, on Friday and didn't want to waste it on something that might be a flop. What does a person do in these circumstances? Put a cry for help out on TFL and make soup. I posted my cry, and started two pots of soup: the lentils with smoky ham that I had especially selected for dinner as a perfect foil for my little loaves and an old stand-by, chicken stock.

Four hours past, then five. Somewhere between the four and five hour mark I thought that I might be seeing signs of growth but it was painfully slow and who knew if or for how long it would continue. Still I held out hope and prepared the cheese, just in case.

At six hours, soups simmering away, I checked again and saw definite growth. Would it continue? I just didn't know but said "patience" to myself and tried to keep busy. Jim was now watching March Madness, even though it is April, drinking Orangina and vodka, and calling me "Marge". I wasn't amused and told him to make his own drink if he wanted another!

I served the soup somewhat disappointedly with Vermont Sourdough.

Lentils with Smoky Ham

Somewhere between seven and eight hours, I checked on the dough's progress and determined it had, indeed, probably doubled. I decided to risk the price of the cheese and complete the loaves. All rolled up and nestled in little bread pans also especially acquired for this bread, I returned them to the water heater closet.

After another painful hour I positioned the racks, placed a cast iron skillet in the lowest position, and on turned on the oven. I also checked on the loaves. Much to my amazement, they were rising in their tiny pans. My worry was fast turning around: I concluded there was reasonable cause for success.

An hour later, I loaded the ice-cubes in the hot skillet and bread pans in the oven. I looked through the window after 10 minutes and was positively elated to see a lot of oven spring.

I removed my lovely little, bubbly and fragrant parcels after 35 minutes. The entire house smelled divine (no doubt the chicken stock that was still simmering also aided the ambience of the evening).

Another 45 minutes past, and there was just 15 minutes more to go of part one of Little Dorrit, but I couldn't wait any longer. I sliced into one loaf, ate several pieces with gusto and we retired, I feeling very victorious and the chicken soup still simmering. It was pleasant dreams here for all. I awoke at 4 AM, turned off the soup and returned to dream of breakfast for a few more hours.



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