The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

jeffrey hamelman. sourdough rye bread

theuneditedfoodie's picture

I am a man on a mission. After having just baked my first sourdough bread- the basic sourdough bread from the BBA, I definitely want more sourdough. My first sourdough may have looked like unleavened bread to some of my friends, but even they, the most critical of the lot, appreciated its crust, crumb and aroma. Sure I need to improve my shaping and scoring, but that doesn’t stop me from experimenting with new sourdough breads. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have turned myself into a sourdough juggernaut.


On another note, the second sourdough bread that I recently made was something that I borrowed from a blog (, and the blogger in turn had borrowed it from Jeffery Hamelman’s Bread: a baker's book of techniques and recipes. The blogger has evidently named this recipe as Norwich sourdough bread, to pay homage to Hamelman’s King Arthur Flour bakery in Norwich, Vermont. Now, my reasons to choose that particular recipe from the was that the site looked pretty impressive and basically I was looking for a recipe for which I had all the ingredients, that mainly being the bread flour and the whole rye flour. Since the quantity just looked overwhelming to me I cut it into half- two batards, although if I had followed the original recipe it would have given me four batards.


After putting my ingredients into play I further ventured into this blog/hamelman’s recipe, which according to the blogger was her best sourdough then (2007), even though, I did see a variation later on, I believe in 2008 where she actually reintroduced the same recipe with more of the sourdough starter to make it sourer. On my own recipe, I followed the blogger’s recipe from A to Z as mentioned and then in the end retarded my dough for overnight final fermentation in the refrigerator.


Now, on day two, after taking my little batards out of the refrigerator, I tried to experiment with them. The first one pretty much hit the oven, as soon as it came out of refrigeration (this is what the blog suggests), while the second one, I left it at room temperature for about 30/40 minutes. As both the breads were done, one could see the results clearly; the second one had a better shape than the first. Also, when I sliced both these breads, I thought the one which was left at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking, seemed to have done better on the texture. Although, there was slight disappointment on the crust on both breads, the crumb on the first one which hit the oven directly after overnight refrigeration was slightly spongy, while the crumb on the second/better one which was allowed to sun bathe at room temperature for sometime, did a whole lot better. 

dmsnyder's picture

Inspired by the gorgeous rye breads hansjoakim has been showing us, I made Hamelman's 70% 3-Stage Rye Sourdough today.

I've made lots of light rye breads and enjoyed them, but I had not yet tackled a rye with over 50% rye flour. I had also never made a rye using the "Detmolder 3-Stage" method. It was time.

I'm glad this was not the first rye bread I attempted. My acquired comfort level with slack doughs and sticky rye dough helped immensely. Working this dough, which has so little gluten it never develops perceptibly, would have been discouraging and confusing without that experience. A 70% rye dough is a different critter from a 40% rye. The latter feels like a "normal" dough, except stickier. The former is like moulding clay. A light and  quick touch is needed to successfully handle the dough, especially in shaping. I was pleased that, using this approach, almost no dough stuck to my hands.

The 3-Stage Detmolder method was developed by German bread scientists to optimize flavor and, particularly, the balance of yeast, lactic acid-producers and acetic acid-producers in the dough. This requires some advance planning. I started the whole process 3 days ago by activating my rye sour with two feedings prior to starting the first "stage" of the Detmolder process. The 3 Detmolder stages are rye sour elaborations that differ in hydration, fermentation temperature and length of fermentation. The final dough adds to the rye sour some high-gluten flour (I used KAF Sir Lancelot.), more water, salt and, optionally, instant yeast. It has a very short fermentation of 10-20 minutes and proofs in bannetons until expanded somewhat less than 100%. I proofed for 1 hr, 15 minutes. In hindsight, I could have proofed for another 15 minutes. (My kitchen was around 79F.)

The dough is divided into rounds which are "docked" rather than scored. Docking involves poking multiple holes in the crust before baking. There are toothed rollers that professional bakers use. I used a "Susan from San Diego Special Mixing Implement," otherwise known as "a chopstick."

The 1.5 lb loaves were baked in a "falling oven temperature," starting out at 490F for 10 minutes to maximize oven spring, then at 410F for another 30 minutes. I left the loaves in the oven, with the oven off and the door ajar, for another 10 minutes to dry the crust.

Steaming should be intense but brief. I poured some hot water over lava rocks in a pre-heated cast iron skillet 3 minutes or so before loading then poured some more water on the rocks just after loading. The skillet was removed after 5 minutes, and I left the oven door open for a few seconds to let some of the steam out before continuing the bake.

Hamelman says to delay slicing for at least 24 hours. 

70% 3-Stage Rye Sourdough, with this afternoon's crop of cherry tomatoes.

70% Rye profile

70% Rye crumb

Slicing the bread, one gets the sense that this is a heavy bread. However, in the mouth it doesn't feel dense or heavy. The crumb is quite tender. The first flavor hit is earthy rye with a very mild sourness. (The sourness may well increase over the next few days.) The surprise is the long-lasting aftertaste which is decidedly sweet!

I think this bread is made to eat with a hearty stew. Too bad it's way too warm for that. Smoked meats or smoked fish are more appealing. How about some Cotswold cheese? I'm off to go fishing for some smoked salmon.


Submitted to Yeast Spotting on Susan FNP's marvelous Wild Yeast blog

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