The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman 80% rye w/ soaker

ericb's picture

Hamelman 80% rye w/ soaker

Hello, everyone. I baked Hamelman's 80% rye recently, and it didn't turn out entirely as I expected:

  1. The crust was very tough. The crumb was perfect, but you could knock someone out cold with the a good swing of the loaf.
  2. The 1.5 pound loaves seemed rather small. I suppose this is just the nature of high-percentage rye, but I have seen pictures of rye on this website that had a bit more volume.
  3. Shaping this loaf was a bit like shaping clay. Is this typical? Hamelman describes the shaping process for rye in the same terms that he uses for wheat.
I followed Hamelman's directions very closely. Since I don't have a mixer, I had to guess at the mixing time. I found that the dough was evenly composed within a few minutes of spoon mixing. I kneaded with wet hands for another minute, but didn't want to take it beyond that.Here are photographs of the bread, which I waited 24 hours to slice. Does this look about right for this recipe?



Overall, I was pleased with the results. I enjoyed eating it (my family doesn't quite like the intense flavor), but I'm not sure I would bake it for friends.  I don't mind bread with some substance to it, but this just seemed a bit too tough. Is that par for the course for this type of bread?


Thanks for your advice!



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Including the knocking out someone with the loaf part.  (Feels a lot like an American football but just a tad softer.) 

You got great crumb with even distribution of round/oval gas pockets with even texture between.  Also decent openings from slashing!  Crust looks evenly brown on both bottom, top and sides. 


tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

I haven't made that one, but I've made Vollkorbrot (100% rye) a few times now. In Bread, he really stresses fully baking the rye loaves. So much that I think I overbaked the first couple batches I made, not to the point of burning, it, I but definitely 'tough bread'. Maybe you'll like it better with a little less bake time, or the last 15 or 30 minutes in a receding oven (turned off). 

What kind of dogfish head is that cap from? 

ericb's picture

Thanks, Mini Oven and tn gabe! It's good to know I'm on the right track. In fact, I just unwrapped the second loaf today and found it to be much softer. I think storing it in aluminum foil for a few days did the trick.


(P.S., I think it was an IPA Dogfish Head, but I'm not sure. I put the bottle cap in the picture to provide a sense of scale, but I realize now that I placed it too close to the camera. That's either a giant bottle cap, or a very tiny loaf of bread!)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

like 2 tsp whole crushed coriander, 1 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp fennel seed to the overnight starter or any soakers.  Run a knife (or hammer) thru the seeds to break them up a little.   Toasted sesame seeds also good in the dough, start with a heaping tablespoon.  You can also add soaked and drained grains and seeds to up the food value and minerals, high protein grains that often are too taste strong on their own.  Nuts , whole, chopped or fine grated also good in this type of loaf as well as soaked dried fruits.  

Try knocking off 5 minutes on the bake.  Your bread is also good warmed in the toaster and served with cinnamon butter.


nicodvb's picture

Recently I like to add 3 heaping tablespoons of sunflower seeds for 1 kg dough and roll the mass/mess in a bed of sesame seeds, then bake at 250° for 30 minutes. Both the taste and the aroma are heavenly.

Eric, as you have seen the bread may feel tough the first day, but storing it in a sealed plastic bag softens even the crumb. Rye is magic in several respects, for example it doesn't dry even after many days (unlike wholemeal wheat bread!).