The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman bakes very high

jkandell's picture

Hamelman bakes very high

I noticed Hamelman's recipes tend to be baked much hotter and a bit shorter time than I'm used to.

For instance, the 5 grain levain is 460F for 45 minutes without turning down the heat at all!

I'm used to, e.g., 450 for ten minutes with the steam then 350 or 375 for 50 minutes.

Do his temperatures work in a home oven without burning the bread?

Also he says "with normal steam", and I was curious what that meant for him.

SourFlour's picture

I think you should try playing around with hotter temperatures.  I often start my oven over 500F, and then turn it down 450F.  You also shouldn't trust your oven dial, but make sure you use a thermometer.

It depends a bit on what kind of breads you are doing.  If you are doing lean breads, with no fat, you almost definintely want to increase the temperatures, and the smaller the bread, the higher you want it.  If you had a 2kg miche, I could see baking closer to 400-425F, but many breads can bake well over 450F.

Not sure what "normal steam" means for Hamelman, but you want to have a moist environment for the first 15 minutes or so.  I use 3/4 to a cup of water in a hot cast iron pan, which puffs up steam immediately, and continues to release water for a while.  Depending on what type of oven you have, you might want to try different techniques.

Hope this helps.

Danny Paz Gabriner
Sour Flour

dmsnyder's picture

I assume you have a copy of "Bread."

I endorse Danny's comments regarding oven temperatures. I find Hamelman's recommendations are good, but, if you find your crusts too dark, for example, you can always use a lower temperature. Hamelman does like dark crusts, but so do I.

"Bread" has a section on steaming, and you can check the index for it. He also has a sub-section of steaming in a home oven. I think you will find the answer to your question (and much more) if you read what Hamelman has to say.


MichaelH's picture

If I preheat to 500 and bake at 450-460 I will burn the bottoms and the tops will be too dark. That's my oven. I bought 2 oven thermometers and they both indicate an oven temp that is about 25* hotter than the setting indicates. Hammelman's 5 grain is a bread I bake at least twice a month. I preheat to 450 and bake at time is 40 minutes with steam for the first 12 minutes on a stone. My loaves are dark brown with a medium crunchy crust. You can see an example here:

Everyone has a different oven and different steaming methods. If you don't like the results, experiment. I took me about a dozen bakes to figure out the settings for my oven that gave me the results I wanted.




Yerffej's picture

At home I preheat to 550° F with a stone in the bottom third of the oven, steam using a large cast iron skillet sitting on a small rack on the oven floor, ten minutes into the bake I reduce the oven to 460° F.  The bottoms of the bread are delightfully dark but not burnt.