The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Day 7 - Hamelman sourdough 5% rye

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varda's picture

Day 7 - Hamelman sourdough 5% rye

Inspired by the beautiful pictures of Hamelman Pain au Levain 5% Rye posted by Larry, I decided to make it.   I knew that this would be tough, given my experience level, but I figured I might as well give it a try.   I started yesterday with making the levain.   It calls for old levain, which I didn't have, so I decided to use the sourdough starter that I've been tending for the last few months even though it is made with White Whole Wheat, for the two tablespoons of old levain that the formula calls for.   There must be another way to do it, but since Hamelman didn't say what it was, this was all I could think of.    Today, I realized that this bread requires A LOT of attention.   I postponed a number of activities that I had been planning on, so I could give it the proper attention and not screw up the timing.    When it came to pre-shaping and shaping, I read Hamelman's tutorial several times so I wouldn't forget what I was supposed to do in the heat of the moment and start ad-libbing.   I did the final rise with rolled up towels to hold the shape (someone on this list - Dillbert?  - suggested that for those who are coucheless.)  The final rise was listed as 2-2.5 hours, but the fingertip test passed at around 1.5 hours, so I decided that was decisive.   I scored with an exacto knife (which turned out to be a mistake, since it wasn't sharp enough, and I popped the two loaves in the oven apparently (another mistake) too close together given how much they had left to rise.   So here they are - nothing as beautiful as Larry's but I'm just as pleased as I can be.   And maybe after another dozen tries or so, these will look as good as they taste. 


wally's picture

You have some beautiful open crumb in those shots!  And the shape of the loaves looks good to me - the rolled up towels worked pretty well!

By "old" levain are you referring to what Jeffrey calls "mature" levain in the recipe?  If so, your starter would work fine, just be sure that it is at full ripeness when you do your build.  The fact that it's white whole wheat shouldn't negatively affect the bread - in fact it adds an extra layer of flavor.  (You may have noticed that his other pain au levain recipe calls for 20% whole wheat.)

I look foward to seeing your next bake of this bread!



varda's picture

I couldn't remember.   Thanks for your comments.   This is so great to learn from more experienced bakers.   It makes me try harder things, and not be satisfied with mediocre results.


kdwnnc's picture

Ever since you announced your "7 breads in 7 days," I have eagerly looked for each day's bake.  All of your breads look wonderful; I greatly appreciate the pics!

varda's picture

I guess it took me 10 days to make the seven breads.   Now I'll bake in private for awhile until I get another bee in my bonnet.  Hope to see pictures of some of your efforts soon.

mdnance's picture

I think this loaf looks amazing.   Is the recipe somewhere on this site? 


varda's picture

From p. 158 of Hamelman's Bread:

You build a levain in two stages - only move to the second stage after first is active - Amounts total for both stages:  bread flour 4.6oz, medium rye .3oz, water 3oz, mature culture 1 oz.   I used a sour dough starter that I had on hand for the mature culture.   The idea is that when you make the bread you save some of the levain for the next time, but this was the first time I'd made it.   Mix 1/2 of this up, let sit for 6-12 hours, add the remainder, let sit for 12 hours. 

Make dough by mixing bread flour 1lb, 9.8oz, rye flour 1.3oz, water 1lb 1.8oz.  Autolyse for 20-60 minutes, then add levain (minus 2 T which you save) and 1 T salt.  Bulk ferment for 150 minutes with stretch and fold every 50 minutes.  Divide, preshape, rest, shape.  Let rise for 2-2.5 hours, Bake with steam at 440 for 40-45 minutes. 

His instructions along with his more general chapter intro on how to build and bake with levains are more enlightening than what I've written above.  If you search this site for Hamelman Pain Au Levain, you will see that many people have made this, and frequently with variations that they post.   The taste of this bread is just fantastic.   I've been making a much more simple-minded sourdough, which up till now, I thought was pretty good, and this just took me up a level or two or three.