The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mellow Bakers

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.

Yumarama's picture

Mellow Bakers is Officially Launched: April recipes posted

March 30, 2010 - 4:03pm -- Yumarama

As some of you may be aware, Mellow Bakers is a group of people who have taken on the baking of all recipes in the Jeffrey Hamelman book, "Bread".

We've already done a trial run recipe in March with several participants, many of them fellow TFLers, and tackled the Hot Cross Buns. And with this successful rum have now pretty much settled the process we'll be following.

With that, we're now Officially Launching into our first group bake with the following three recipes:

Rustic Bread, Light Rye and Bagels. 

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