The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye Breads with Jeffrey Hamelman

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Rye Breads with Jeffrey Hamelman

I just signed up for "Rye Breads with Jeffrey Hamelman"  at King Aurther this Feburaury.  Is any one else going?

wally's picture
wally

Probably not Faith.  But oh am I jealous.  Rye's have become my favorite bakes - especially high percentage ryes.  And you know Jeffrey is going to have a killer class.

Rats on you for even bringing this up!

Oh, and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Larry

LindyD's picture
LindyD

..with envy.  

Just looked at the KAF schedule and see it's not sold out yet.  Gosh, that's tempting.  While February is never an optimal time for traveling in my area, maybe it's time to check out flight costs.

Wonder if it's too late to send a letter to Santa?  :-)

linder's picture
linder

Congratulations on taking the leap and signing up for the class.  I'm sure you will enjoy it!

Linda

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

What a bummer Larry, It would have been fun to have you baking partner again.  It won't be the same without you. Happy Holidays to you as well.

I've had a difficult year.  I've lost time for baking because of work so I deserve some reward for my sacrifice and this is it.

My rye breads are good but I know they could be better so who better to help me improve my loaf then the master himself.  A once in a life time thing for me.

As a bonus my sister that lives in Vermont had a baby last year, so I will get to see my new nephew.

Hurry up February !!! I'm ready

 

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

I tried to get into his last Rye Bread class 18 months ago and it was sold out plus the waiting list was filled... amazing this one is still available. Jeffrey does have a unique take on rye flours and I'm really looking forward to it.

Otis

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Yes there were a few others that I was interested in as well but by the time I look for a class they are all full.  So I'm thrilled the timing was right on this one.

Looking forward to meeting you Otis

wally's picture
wally

I found a way.  Missed his rye class in Charlotte NC earlier ths year.  Can't let it happen again!

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Now this class is complete for me.   Way to go Larry!

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Hello Faith:

  Just read your post today and I am so.................jealous.

 Please give us details information when you completed it. Looking forward to see more posts and pictures from your class. 

 I am also looking forward to learn from you when we get together in spring in Floyd.

mantana

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Hi Mantana

Yes, I have planned to give details once the class is complete.  I told you that I was needing to improve my rye's so this class should be a great start.

I am also looking forward to having some baking fun this spring.

Faith

 

varda's picture
varda

I seem to have signed up.   See you there.   -Varda

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

LOL, Varda

Sounds like we will need our own TFL'ers section.  Looking forward to meeting you.   Faith

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Just one more week.  Looking like the weather should be good for our travels.  I will be driving from Virginia so I'm glad I won't be fighting winter weather the whole way.

Travel safely Larry, Otis and Varda.   See you there.

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Good Morning Faith:

   I am so....happy and also jealous about your trip.  Please have a safe trip.  You are very lucky to meet many of the TFL group. Please take a lot of pictures(if it is o.k.) to share with us less fortunate. I am inquiring about the bread classes coming up in late June or July since I will be visiting Boston area. They do not post the class yet so don't know yet.

Please let me know when you can meet with me on bread.  (By the way, I am teaching Thai in April and again in June at the Bower center in Bedford and then at CVCC in Lynchburg ) I will be away outside the country in May. See you later.

mantana

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Let me know the dates on the Thai classes, Bedford is a bit of a haul but I think your class would be worth the trip.  You can be jealous of my Vermont trip and I will be jealous of your "outside the country" trip (feel the need to travel).

With permission I will take pictures and make notes to share. With three other TFL'ers going I'm sure there will be some good reporting.

Waiting for time and good weather to crank up the wood fired oven. Thinking late March or early April the weather should become nice again then we can get together and do some baking.

Faith

varda's picture
varda

My first bread class, and with Jeffrey Hamelman.   See you there.  -Varda

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

 

Good Morning Faith:

  You do not need to travel to Bedford to learn how to cook Thai with me. I proposed that when I go to your home for the bread lesson, I show you how to make Thai food! Tell me which one you want to learn(Pad Thai, Drunken noodles, Masman curry or...) and I will bring the ingredients and teach you. You can invite your friends too if you want to. It is a free class in return for your teaching me how to make bread. Deal?  

Mantana

loafette's picture
loafette

Thaichef...I am not presently living in Bedford County, but I still own a home there...moved back down to S. FL, to live with my elderly mother, so she could stay in her home. I grew up down here, but I'm still 'getting used' to Florida's rather different cultures...haven't lived here, since 1986! I'm (was!) on Rte 43 North, just 10 miles south of the Parkway. I would've LOVED to take Thai cooking lessons from ya!

 

This is for Faith...I took Hamelman's 'Fundamentals of Baking, and the Advanced Breads, in the spring of 2004. I don't remember now where I obtained this copy of an article, published by another class member, but I thought you might enjoy reading it...it's lengthy, so I hope no one minds that. The article covers a couple of days of class work/lectures...

He is a 'rye guy', for certain. I remember telling my hubby, after the first day of class, that EVERYTHING I'd learned, through reading, other than my Calvel book, could be thrown out...just keep your head/ears open, so they can be filled with 'real' information.

Here 'tis...:

Laura


Summer School 
(Baking Buyer, July 1, 2004) 
by John Unrein 

Our day starts much like any other, except that we are totally removed from the bustle of the big city and ready to embark on an endeavor so basic and pure that you wonder why everyone doesn’t bake bread. All 13 of us—a baker’s dozen—will spend a week together learning the art and science of sourdough from the French and German perspectives. Our instructor is the esteemed Jeffrey Hamelman, a baker for nearly 30 years and now director of King Arthur Flour’s Bakery and Baking Education Center in the picturesque town of Norwich, VT. 

COMPLETE ARTICLE 
Click here to find out more! 

We find our seats at wooden workbenches—mine next to Amy Berger of Zingerman ’s Bakehouse—and our instructor starts with an introduction as to why we are here. The message is simple and deadly serious: Competition, more than anything, threatens to doom the baker’s life. It is no longer good enough to wake up each day and produce the breads that you want to bake. You must be equipped with the necessary training and stamina to endure the long haul, along with the proper equipment and flexibility to react to whatever obstacles arise. Amy, who just competed in a marathon the prior weekend in northern Vermont, indicates that she is ready to run. 

Our advanced bread baking class begins. 

Mission: Diversity 

"Today is more challenging for the small bakery owner," Hamelman says. "The more we can do to diversify our products—all of these things encourage more people to walk into your store. You can be a real cornerstone to your community. We want to broaden our production skills so we can be that person for our community. If we make our proverbial bread basket full, it will give customers more reasons to come in." 

He informs us that we will bake bread using two different cultures: a liquid levain and a stiffer textured, German-style rye culture. We will produce a wide variety of breads: Vermont sourdough, olive levain, sourdough seed, semolina, 40% sourdough rye, 90% sourdough rye, Vollkornbrot and Leinsamenbrot, along with decorative dough for lattice braiding, Danish dough and brioche. 

Our class consists of mostly professional bakers, including head bakers for a large retail operation in Michigan, an in-store operation in New Jersey, and a bakery cafe chain in Colorado. Some are here to brush up on skills. Others want to learn to bake different breads, like ryes. 

Hamelman, a Master Baker and captain of the 1996 Baking Team USA, proves to be both an incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining instructor. He borrows on personal experiences to impress upon us the great history of bread and its importance in society. His stories inject humor. He recalls the time when an employee at the German bakery he once worked at used up the sourdough starter in the day’s batch. The culture was 100 years old. When the woman who ran the bakery arrived, Hamelman thought somebody was sure to be fired—or worse! Instead, the woman leaned over into the mixing bowl and poked her finger on a speck near the top. "I think this is sourdough," she exclaimed in her tiny voice, and proceeded to add the speck to water and began to revive her century-old starter. 

That is baking; there is always another day. 

Building the Starter 

Of course at King Arthur Flour’s professional class on Advanced Bread Baking, one of the few places left in the country for retail bakers to hone their skills, we learn to start the day off with precise measurements. Math is our friend. We quickly get out our calculators to compute the hydration of the liquid levain culture we will build each day, starting with 300 grams of organic rye flour and 375 grams of cool tap water—that’s 125% hydration. We also begin to build a different starter, a sourdough rye culture, at 100% hydration, using 454 grams of organic rye flour and 454 grams of water. For both, we mix well, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm area roughly 80-90 F for 24 hours to ferment. 

"Rather than give it breakfast, lunch and dinner all at once, we will spread the feedings out a little," he says. We use rye flour for day one and the following day’s feedings instead of white flour, as Hamelman explains, "because it’s loaded with fermentable stuff." Whole-wheat flour is not recommended either for feedings because of the danger of rancidity from the germ. A small amount of honey (10 grams) is added to the initial culture to provide nutrients. 

The acidity that sourdoughs are known for takes seven to eight days to develop, through daily feedings. For those who prefer a less acidic taste, yeast can be a tool to accomplish that mission. Hamelman, says yeast should not be "looked at as the enemy," and advocates making breads to suit the tastes of your customers, and tastes can vary from region to region. 

Another way to bring about less or more acidity in your sourdough bread involves the balance of lactic and acetic acids. We learn that lactic acids favor warmer and moist conditions, while acetic acids develop best in cooler, stiffer dough. "Under refrigeration, yeast spores die, a different bacteria evolves, and your bread may get more acidic," Hamelman says. 

On the sixth day the cultures can be used to bake bread. Hamelman points out, though, that another two days of the same feeding schedule will add to vigor and flavor. 

Maintaining a daily feeding of the chef, or sourdough culture, is so important that some bakers bring their cultures along on plane trips for business or vacation, just to ensure the chef is kept under proper environmental conditions. Many believe culture should never be refrigerated and needs two feedings per day. 

Measuring Tools 

"In bread, we don’t want to use bleached flour, period," our instructor says. Bleached flour causes a loss in color, aroma, flavor and nutrients. He advises the one place for using bleached flour is cake. The lower pH of bleached flour helps cake structure. 

Regarding protein content of flour, Hamelman suggests asking a different 
question: What is the ash content? He contends that 0.45 to 0.55 is a good level for hearth bread, along with protein in the 12% range. King Arthur’s Sir Galahad Flour is 11.8% protein with 0.48 ash content. 

Using ash (mineral) content as a measuring tool allows the baker to know what part of the kernel the flour came from—or how close it was to the center of the endosperm. European bakers tend to focus more on ash content, while many Americans simply ask how much protein is in the bag. Hamelman says that’s not enough. "It could be still higher protein, but lower quality," he says. 

We learn the "ski pole" test for measuring diastatic activity in flour, or whether there are a high or low amount of amylase enzymes, which convert starch into sugars. The ski pole refers to the plunger that is placed in a test tube filled with a hot slurry of gelatinized flour-water mixture. The longer it takes for the plunger to fall (the falling number), the lower amount of enzymes that are in the flour sample. "It’s not converting starch to sugar, so it takes a long time for the ski pole to drop," Hamelman says. 

He recommends a falling number of 250 to 325 in bread flour to ensure amylase activity is sufficient. A low falling number may indicate spoiled flour, which Hamelman says can be a problem when there is a lot of rain prior to grain harvest. To correct a high falling number, mills will add minute amounts (0.1%) of malt to the final dough flour. Our instructor points out that he doesn’t recommend adding diastatic malt unless "I looked at the falling number and see I need it. Unless you know why are doing it (adding malt), it can come back to bite you. Too much malt can give you a gummy crumb, instead of nice structure." 

Strength of Dough 

To me, Mixing Tolerance Index (MTI) sounds like something dreamed up by mathematicians at MIT in Boston. Our advanced class learns about using a Farinograph to measure mixing capabilities, or how long dough stays strong and when it starts to break down. "A typical good tolerance time for bread making is 9 to 13 minutes," Hamelman says. 

Discussion of the MTI gets complicated. Results of the Farinograph are expressed in MTI, the measure of the quality of the protein to develop gluten. A lower number means a better mixing tolerance. If the MTI is larger than 40, Hamelman says the dough is breaking down too quickly. He suggests looking for an MTI range between 25 to 40 for bread baking. Any lower than 25, and you may wind up with a rubbery texture and tight crumb—too much gluten. 

Meantime, Europeans and some American bakers, he says, use the Chopin Alveograph to measure dough tolerance. The W value is used to express how much energy is required to blow up a sheeted piece of dough until it pops. You get strong flour when the W value is 250 to 300, Hamelman says. 

Moving from lecture to practice, our instructor demonstrates the autolyse technique (common for French baguette production) of mixing flour and water into a "sloggy mass" before turning off your mixer and resting it for 20 minutes to an hour. This procedure, he explains, decreases the risk of over-oxidizing the dough and won’t bleach out important carotenoids (cancer-fighting nutrients). 

Salt has a tightening effect on the gluten bond, so it is not added to the autolyse (contains just flour and water). This resting technique greatly reduces the amount of second speed mixing required. If you plan to use a liquid preferment (or poolish), Hamelman says the poolish must be added along with the autolyse. 

For those using a Hobart or planetary mixer, water needs to go into the bowl first, but the order of the ingredients does not matter with a spiral mixer because of how thoroughly the mixer works, he says. 

Temperature Control 

Before you switch to mixing at second speed, "make sure you like your hydration," Hamelman cautions. If not, make the appropriate corrections before it is too late in the mixing process. 

For instance, when making sourdough seed bread with flax, first soak the flax overnight in water and then add the soaker mixture to the dough at the beginning of mixing instead of late. This early step will add slightly to mix time, but prevent you from having poorly hydrated dough in the end. 

Hamelman contends that controlling dough temperatures accurately can be one of the more vital skills any baker learns. He shares with our class an example of how to do the math. To achieve a desired dough temperature of 76 F, for example, you multiply 76 by three (if mixing a straight dough) or by four (using a preferment) to determine the total temperature factor. Then you subtract the temperatures of your flour, room and preferment (if applicable). Finally, subtract the friction factor (the friction caused by the dough hook and bowl on the dough) to discover the necessary water temperature. 

Calculating the friction factor consists of taking the actual dough temperature after mixing a trial batch and then using the same multiplication factors (three with straight dough, four with preferment) to get the total temperature factor. Again, subtract the temperatures of flour, room, water and preferment (if applicable) to find the friction factor. 

Back to Baking 

Once we have honed our math skills, our class is eager to bake. In only a few days, we have done everything from mixing paper-thin brioche dough to baking braided decorative breads (my creation is a braided heart for my girl). 

Our instructor, who has a fondness for rye breads, explains that in the baking process, "you want a falling (temperature) oven, so you get a nice long bake."And after baking, he recommends letting 90% rye rest for 24 hours after taking out of oven before eating and giving 100% rye 48 hours rest time. For optimum bakery schedules, that means you’ll want to bake rye bread in the afternoon or evening and then make them available to customers the next morning. 

One of Hamelman’s favorites is "true" pumpernickel, which is actually taken from the rye berry and turned into meal. It is black, 100% rye with no flour. But in the United States, pumpernickel is often disguised as white rye bread that is caramel colored. 

Taste tests follow every baking event during our week in the classroom, and we are encouraged to share our personal likes and dislikes. There are no wrong answers. Hamelman reminds us that everyone has his or her own preferences, their own styles and their own way of doing things. That is why education like the Advanced Bread Baking class at King Arthur is so important. It gives us the basis of how and why to follow certain formulas and procedures, but then we must make our own mark, based on customer and personal preferences. Our final lesson is clear: We have learned the fundamentals of the craft of baking, and now it is up to us to take our performance to the next level. 

Class Time 

King Arthur Flour, America’s oldest flour company, dating back to 1790, built it own Bakery and Baking Education Center in 2000 to promote the art of baking. 

The Norwich, VT-based company also has taught more than 52,000 school children how to bake bread through its Life Skills Bread Baking Program. So the company is committed to education. 

There is a wide selection of educational classes, including those for professionals and for consumers/home bakers. 

Professional classes include Fundamentals of Bread Baking, Advanced Bread Baking, and Introduction to International Pastries. 

For more information about educational classes and schedules, contact the Baking Education Center at (800) 652-3334 or visit www.kingarthurflour.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Varda, does my excitement show that much...oops.  Yes, it's true.

Mantana, Deal,  You already make beautiful bread I hope I have something worth teaching you.

loafette, thanks for sharing that article, very interesting.  I don't know how in depth he can get with 9 hours of total class time...but it will be a great start.

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

It will be great to meet you all face to face. Having been through a couple of the 1 1/2 day courses, I can tell you it will be different than the week long bakery management course described in loafette's very generous post. We will be more focused on instant gratification with lots of loaves and tips. Hopefully Chef Handelman will send us home with a rye starter... I was planning to do my own following the method in "bread" but I've been traveling. See you on Friday!

Otis

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Good Mroning Loafette:

   I did not get to read your post until today.(2/19) . If you come back to Bedford, please contact me. I will teach you how to cook Thai and you can teach me how to make bread, O.K.?  I am from St.Petersburg and Tampa, Fl. and am very glad to be here in Moneta now. It is beautiful but not much on restaurants or food! I got use to it now and love the area.

  Your home in Bedford sound familiar to me when I go to Gross Orchard on 43.

I too may have a chance to take a class at King Arthur flour in late June or July when we are going to Boston for vacation.

I hope to get to meet you when you back this way.

Mantana

 

   

loafette's picture
loafette

Yes, you definitely have to pass my home, to get to Gross Orchards! I worked, for a short time, at the outlet/shop, on Rte. 43. I talked Ronnie into letting me make apple/cinnamon rolls, to 'showcase' his products, just a bit more...lol! I sure do miss being able to get lovely, fresh apples, in season. Before I came down here, I worked at the Duchess of Bedford bakery/cafe, the morning baker.

I know Moneta, pretty well, also...my (now ex) in-laws live just a mile from the state park.  There is a DEFINITE lack, of at least, interesting food, in the area!

Bedford County is one beeeeyooooutiful place, and I really miss it. Too flat, down here!

I do hope you'll be able to attend a KAF class. I can't recommend them highly enough, regardless of which one you end up participating in. The whole experience was wonderful, and we were treated beautifully, by every member of the staff. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, for me, and I am so glad that I was able to do it.

Laura