The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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pyg's picture

Reinhart's formulas are just so wrong

After having had access to Hamelmans Bread book for 5+ years and having learned bakers math from it, Reinharts formulas make absolutely no sense to me.  I recently acquired The Bread Bakers Apprentice and Crust and Crumb based in part from recomendations on this site and forno bravo.  While I really like Reinharts enthusiasm compared to Hamelmans rather dry style, I do not understand why Reinhart even bothered to include formulas as his books are pitched at the more casual baker and the formulas themselves seem to be super complicated to use.

With Hamelmans overall formulas where total flour = 100% noting the hydration and flours involved I can immediately get a sense of the handling characteristics.  I can also infer a fair amount from the percentage of preferment or levain and with very simple math adjust these formulas based on what I know about my flour, humidity, etc.  But what I absolutely depend on is with slightly more complicated math I can make a batch of dough that makes exactly a given number of loaves of a given size.  For example assuming I have a bread formula that overall comes to 177.5 percent.  My oven is pretty small so my batch size is 12 loaves.  I know from experience that if I scale my dough at 550g (I vastly prefer working in metric) a loaf it will bake to a final weight of between 1 pound and 1 pound 1 ounce.  I also know that I need to add ~10g per loaf for scaling error so 560 * 12 = 6720g final dough weight.  I divide that by 1.775 and I get 3786g for my total flour weight.  Total flour weight is the magic number and once I have that all other weights including preferments are generated.  How the **** do you do this with a Reinhart formula.

 Ranting ever onward, I decided to compare Reinharts The Bread Bakers Apprentice Poilane style Miche (pg 242)  with Hamelmans James MacGuire/Pointe-a-Calliere style Miche (pg 164) by working backwards from Reinharts formula to generate a Hamelman type formula.  Here we go:

Assuming that the Barm included in the Firm Starter is 100% hydration which is implied on pg 232, the Firm Starter would be 138.9% flour and 82.9% water.  Converting this to a ratio where flour equals 100% gives us a Firm Starter with a hydration of 60% (with rounding) exactly the same as Hamelman so far.  OK, after splitting Firm Starter into the Final Dough I get 137.5% flour and 87.5% hydration which converts to 63.6% hydration at 100% flour with 27.3% of flour used in the starter, or:

Overall Formula: 

100%  Whole Wheat Flour

2.5%  Salt

63.6%  Water

166.1% Total


Pre-Fermented Flour 27.3%  (Firm Starter):

100%  Whole Wheat Flour

60%  Water

of the above preferment 28% is comprised of 100% hydration Barm (not calculating exact build because I'm lazy)


So now I have this in a readable format I don't have to even try this formula to have serious questions.  63% hydration for what should be a high hydration sourdough?  Really?  Hamelmans formula is at 82% hydration.  Based on experience, a high extraction flour or whole wheat would be practically unworkable with this level low a level of hydration.  The description of handling the dough in Reinharts text implies a much higher level of hydration than 63%.  Alternately I've done something wrong in the math, please check my work if you can.  Showing me I'm wrong about any of my above assumptions would help me learn.

Sure wish Hamelman would write more books.

FlourChild's picture

Rye & Onion Bialys

Today's family breakfast included rye bialys with cream cheese and smoked salmon, we enjoyed them!  The dark rye pre-ferment for these was adapted from The Bread Bible's rye pugliese, but the main dough, as well as the proportion of pre-fermented dough, is quite different.  In addition to the dark rye and unbleached flour, they also have KAF whole grain white wheat flour, which I sifted to remove the larger bran pieces.  The bran was used to coat the outside of the bialys in place of the tradtitional flour coating.  The onion, poppy seed, salt and pepper filling is from the Bread Bible's bialy recipe, it's a great filling.

     Pre-ferment       Dough Baker's %
unbleached flour, KAF AP70 g125 g66.1%
whole grain dark rye flour45 g 15.3%
white whole wheat, sifted to remove bran 55 g18.6%
water90 g135 g76.3%
instant yeast           1/8 tsp    5/8 tsp0.8%
salt           1/4 tsp    3/4 tsp1.9%


The pre-ferment was mixed and left overnight (12 hrs) at cool room temperature, until doubled.

The flours, yeast and water were mixed and autolysed, then salt and pre-ferment added, and the main dough kneaded for about 5 minutes in my stand mixer.

Bulk ferment was 75 minutes at 80F.

Final proof was 60 minutes, also at 80F.   Before baking, I docked the centers and filled with the onion-poppy seed mixture.

Baked about 10 minutes at 500F.

Last time I made these, I used bread flour, which I think I'll go back to next time.  These were moist and tender, but I missed the chewiness of the bread flour.  The centers are dark from the poppy seeds (not burnt onions). 





PaulZ's picture


Hi all,

I know this topic has cropped up ad infinitum on this site and posted to the point of tearful yawn-inducing boredom but I am really REALLY trying to find an answer. Nothing seems to work.

PROBLEM: My baguette's crust is too hard. Would knock an intruder out cold with one blow! The crumb inside is beautifully soft, flavoursome and the mix of holes (high hydration) is ideal - I think. Yet, I've read on TFL that steam (within the 1st 5min) helps develop a crisp crust. However, I have ALSO read on previous postings here that to induce a softer crust one needs loads and loads of steam before the firming and caramelisation eventually takes over. A contradiction of intentions? Neither seems to work. To create steam in my 6ft single deck oven, I use a plastic cannnister pressure pump hose (the one used to spray chemicals in the garden - not the same one! - a similar one you understand!!!) I place the baguettes directly onto the pre-heated metal deck / floor of the oven at a temp of 280C (530F), spray for 10-15secs and immed. reduce to 250C (500F). I spray again (10-15secs) after 3 mins and I give a final 15secs spray after 6 mins. The temp is then reduced to 220C (425F) and the baked baguettes are pulled at 22mins. Should I be using more steam? This means a greater heat loss while I insert the nozzle of the spray hose. Less steam, perhaps?

The baguettes have a beautiful colour, lovely crumb but the crust ? oh-so hard!

Good crumb but very-very tough crust!

The watchman's "night stick" baton!!!!

Baked in a deck oven (the convection oven has to perch above - sorry, no space in the kitchen!)

And here is the formula (if that would help solve anything)

1,000g White Bread Flour

800g Water

18g salt

22g Fresh Bakers Yeast.


Thanks all.


afrika's picture



dwfender's picture


I'm interested in learning more about enzymes and how they affect the dough. People seem to talk about them frequently and I have a general understanding of what they do but I'm really looking to expand my knowledge a little more. 

davidg618's picture

Challah braiding crutch

I bake challah rarely, once every two or three months, usually two loaves. One I pan bake; it gets sliced and frozen for French toast, two or four slices thawed each time; it lasts a good while. The second loaf I braid, only because I like the way the shiny, chocolate-colored, bulging braid looks: eye candy. However, each time I bake challah I have to relearn six-strand braiding--my favorite. I baked challah two days ago, and the braiding was especially frustrating, in part because I'd tried a new recipe--it turned out delicious, but I'd made the dough softer than usual--as well as having to, once again, look at my cheat-sheet, make a move, look at my cheat-sheet, make a move, answer the phone, try to figure out where I was...well, you know the rest. I finally got it to look half-way decent; proofing, oven spring and browning aided considerably.

Yesterday, I recalled how, when I was about ten years old, I'd learned to braid four strands of flat, plastic lacing--called "Gimp"--into an attractive round braid. With a metal snaphook on its beginning end,  a yard of it, doubled back on itself and the loop closed with a square-braided slide finished in a Turks-head knot it made a handsome lanyard. I got so good at making lanyards I supplemented my meager weekly allowance by making them for other, less-talented Boys' Club campers, and kids in my neighborhood. I recall I also made a few dog leashes too.

With that memory recalled...

I made my self a practice string which I carry with me in my shirt pocket.  Now, at most free moments, I take it out; my latest mantra is, 6 over 1, 2 over 6, 1 over 3, 5 over 1, 6 over 4,...etc., etc., etc.

David G

dabrownman's picture

I've been working on a new home made Gas Regeneration BBQ /Smoker

that I hope to eventually use to make pizza.  It's like a mini wood fired oven.  It's built out of huge hominy can and a 40-56 oz can of beans. It's the best BBQ and smoker I have ever owned and it was nearly free! I'm pretty sure I could get a small 12" stone for it and turn it into a pizza oven fairly easily. It works on a small pile of 1/4" twigs and 4 charcoal briquettes. Amazing heat from that beast.  Throw some wood chips on top you have a smoker that makes the best meat you have ever had.  I can see a Pizza oven too .......

MAde a very nice apple smoked chicken breast for dinner.  Just yummy, especially with the YW orange turmeric bread!

TastefulLee's picture

No Knead Jalapeno & Cheddar Sourdough ala Lahey

I am loving all the great ideas and helpful advice on this website. I have been using a 1 – 2 – 3 sourdough recipe that involves no kneading, from another valuable and wonderful post on this site, but decided to try the famous No Knead bread for the first time. I mixed up the dough last night, subbing 1/4 c. each whole wheat and rye for the bread flour. 11 hours later I flattened the dough into a rectangle and topped with 2 seeded, chopped jalapeno peppers, which I folded in. I gently flattened the folded dough and added 5 oz. of extra sharp cheddar cheese and folded the dough again. I then allowed the dough a 15 minute bench rest before proofing in a bowl lined with parchment for about an hour. I transferred the bread on the parchment to my preheated cast iron dutch oven and baked according to the original recipe. All I can say is O.M.G. The bread is gorgeously browned, caramelized beautifully. It sang loudly when removed from the oven and I can hardly wait for it to cool. Thanks to the two posters who did this before me for giving me the courage to try it. I have to say that I was getting very nervous when I was folding in the peppers and cheese and the dough kept ripping…but it didn’t seem to matter in the end. Just had to share! I will be adding some photos later but since my son needs the internet and our upload speed is pathetic I'll have to wait a bit. 

I only started baking with my sourdough starter last week and the results have been wonderful thanks to so many experienced bakers who are willing to share their expertise with a newbie like me. Many thanks for all your support  :)

dabrownman's picture

Chad Robertson's Country SD - Modified

Isand66 (Ian) has been using a much greater percentage of starter/Levain in his recent SD breads.  As I was looking around for a place to start with this idea, I ran across Chad Robertson's Country SD that uses this same technique.  I also prefer at least 10% rye and WW in the finished loaf and wanted to make sure that was the case in this bread.  I also wanted a higher hydration dough and one that had more AP flour and less bread flour.   This bread sure looks good on the outside but I can't cut into it yet until my wife gives the OK since she is taking it into work tomorrow.  I'm hoping the crumb is fairly open this time - and it was fairly airy.  It was also delicious, especially toasted with butter.  This one is a keeper!

 Chad's Sourdough - Modified - makes 1 large boule

Levain Build - Two days before bake day

  • 82 g starter @ 100% hydration (50% rye and 50% WW)
  • 45 g bread flour
  • 60 g rye flour
  • 60 g WW flour
  • 125 g water

Mix and ferment for 6  hours at 68 F and the refrigerate overnight

Noon -  before bake day

  • 370 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)
  • 185 g bread flour
  • 185 AP flour
  • 280 g water
  • 14 g salt

Mix all except salt for 2 minutes on KA 1 and autolyse for 1 hour. Then add salt and mix on KA 3 for 4 minutes.  Move to an oiled bowl and let rest 30 minutes.  Do 10 S&F's in the bowl and let rest 30 minutes.  Do 5 S&F's in theowl and let rest 30 minutes.  Do 1 S&F on a floured bench, return to the oiled bowl and let rest 30 minutes.   Do 1 more S&F on a floured bench and form into a ball, return to the oiled bowl and let rest 1 hour.  Retard dough overnight.    The dough will rise about 10-20% in the fridge.

Remove from fridge and let rest on counter for 1 hour.  Do 1 S&F gently  and do final shape into a boule.  Make sure to tighten the skin properly.  Place in cloth and floured bennaton and let rise in a plastic trash can liner for 2 hours. 

One hour before boule is proofed, heat oven to 500 with stone and steaming apparatus in place.  Remove boule from benetton onto parchment lined peel and put in the oven.  After 2 minutes turn down oven to 450 F .  After 15 minutes total, remove steaming apparatus and bake at 400F convection for  another 15- 25 minutes until the temp hits 205 F in the center of the boule.  Turn off oven and  left bread sit on the stone with the oven door ajar for 10 more minutes.  Remove bread to cooling rack until completely cool.

isand66's picture

Two-Fifths Sourdough Rye Beer Bread

This recipe is an adaptation from Veronika at  It uses the no-knead method and allows the gluten which is very weak in rye breads to develop slowly.  I decided to add some dark beer to give it an extra kick and also used First Clear flour instead of Bread or AP flour.  I ended up keeping the dough in the refrigerator for an extended period since I ran out of time to let it rise completely at room temperature.  I think this ended up creating an extremely sour sourdough rye which is not for the faint of heart.  If you want a more mellow tasting bread, I suggest you follow the directions below.

All in all, the bread turned out fairly well with a nice crispy crust and chewy, moist crumb.  The beer definitely added another flavor profile which makes this bread ideal for a nice sharp cheese and beer.



5 oz. water (90 degrees F.)

3 oz. Rye Flour (I used medium grade from KAF)

2 oz. First Clear Flour (you can substitute Bread flour or High Gluten flour)

2 oz. Refreshed Starter (100 % Hydration White Starter or Rye or Whole Wheat)

Final Dough

7 oz. Dark Rye Flour

10.5 oz. First Clear Flour (or Bread flour or High Gluten)

2 Tsp. Salt

1 - 2 TBS Caraway Seeds (more or less depending on your preference.  I used 1.5 TBS)

12 oz. Dark Beer


Prepare the starter and let it sit out at room temperature for 5-8 hours until it is nice and bubbly and ripe.  You can use it immediately or put it in the refrigerator overnight until ready to use.

Mix the starter with the room temperature beer and break it up.  Next mix in the flours and salt until the dough comes together and is still sticky. You don't need to over-mix the dough as it will now sit covered with some plastic wrap for 18-20 hours at room temperature.  (This is the point where after around 8 hours I put it in my refrigerator).  After 18-20 hours the dough should be nice and puffy and ready to turn out on an either a lightly floured work surface or lightly oiled one.  Do several stretch and folds and then put the dough in your floured banneton or bakers couche for its final journey which should take around 1.5 - 3 hours.

When the final dough is nice and puffy and passes the finger poke test, prepare your oven for hearth baking.

Pre-heat oven with baking stone (I use one on bottom and one on top shelf of my oven), to 500 degrees F.

Slash loaves as desired and place empty pan in bottom shelf of oven.

Pour 1 cup of very hot water into pan and place loaves into oven.

Lower oven to 450 Degrees and bake for 25 - 35 minutes until bread is golden brown and internal temperature reaches 200 degrees.

Shut the oven off and leave the bread inside with the door slightly open for 10 minutes.  This will help dry the loaves out and keep the crust crunchy.

Let cool on cooling rack and enjoy!

This post has been submitted to the Yeast Spotting Site here: