The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman's Five Grain Levain

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Hamelman's Five Grain Levain

This is  a half recipe.  I baked the rolls first with a disposable roaster over them for steam (spritzing them and the bowl with water first), and when those were done (should have baked the rolls a bit longer), I put in the bread with the bowl over it.  Also, I didn't have any high gluten flour, so I added a half-teaspoon of gluten, and multi-grain cereal instead of cracked rye.  I'm always trying to raise the percentage of whole wheat, so next time I will increase the amount of whole wheat flour.

Happy Thanksgiving!


pmccool's picture

It looks like you had pretty good oven spring in the loaf and the rolls.  How was the taste?

Happy Thanksgiving.


Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

They taste very good -- my husband loves it.  It was first time I tried making rolls with sourdough and they were just what I wanted - crusty (for a few hours anyway!), chewy yet light.  A great recipe from Hamelman!  

I forgot to mention, I also added a tablespoon of honey, too.

Has anyone tried omitting the commercial yeast in the recipes in "Bread" and just letting the sourdough raise the bread? What  were your results?   I noticed the recipes that have added commercial yeast have ingredients like seeds, cheese, etc. that could weigh down a loaf.  

Thanksgiving blessings to all of you!

Mary Clare

dmsnyder's picture

This is a delicious bread! I like the idea of using the dough for rolls.

As I recall, Hamelman's recommendation is to omit the yeast, if you cold retard the loaves. I have done this, and it works well. The bread's flavor is better with the cold retardation, in fact.


Alpine Baker's picture
Alpine Baker

I make the loaves with an 18 hour wet sponge roughly 2 or 3 degrees below room temperature (white flour starter) as well as 18 hour seed soaker (boiling water for the whole rye I use).

After this I add the remaining water, white and whole wheat flour, mix loosely and autolyze for 45 minutes to an hour. Then the salt and seed soaker go in and mix until soft open development of the gluten (which is not long, thanks to the autolyze). Usually I end up adding a substantial amount of water at this point to bring the dough to a good heavy level.

It will be sticky, but this is in part due to the tearing effect of the seeds and the mucilaginous soaked flax (which has probably become green inside at this point. Yay sprouted seed bread!). Also, the seed soaker has a similar effect on the dough to adding a lot of oil, or butter, or anything with it's own significant structural qualities, especially if there is any excess water on top that has not soaked in yet. Basically, the dough will break up into tons of chunky bits that, to all appearances, are never going to incorporate. Here is one of those joyous moments of bread making when everything amazingly works, against all perceived odds.

So, having a loosely assembled sourdough from sponge, I proceed to rest the dough 30 to 45 minutes before giving it a fold. Depending on ambient humidity, temperature, etc, the dough may need to rest another 30 to 45 for another fold if it is still really sticky and unfortunate looking (Note, however, that the final dough will always be a little tacky, when mixed to a nice hydration.). Another 30 minutes to 1 hour rest until doubled, scale, preshape, rest 15, final form and proof anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours.

This is my weekly gamble. Combined with wild brick oven temperature swings and crazy climate patterns I am amazed I manage to get this out three times a week at all.

So, in conclusion, a long wonderful process if you have the time to dedicate. Personally, if this was not my profession I would probably dedicate every sunday to such experiences. That's just me. :) The result is buttery and smooth. The oats really fashion a creamy texture of the crumb and the seeds help contribute to an incredible, uneven matrix.

Enjoy! -yeast free.