The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Formulas similar to Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain

DanAyo's picture

Formulas similar to Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain

By far, my most favorite bread is Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain. I've tried many other recipes/formulas and none of them compare to it. I've searched in vain for similar recipes. Breads that are hearty, and complex in flavor. Natural levain is a must, since I like the complex flavor it provides. I think the seeds that are baked into the loaf must give the bread a signature taste. After baking and eating this so many times I've come to believe that not only do the seeds taste good when eaten, but the seeds seem to release flavor (maybe gasses) that permeate the crumb. I'm thinking that it may be similar to the affect levain or yeast has on the flavor after long fermentation. NOTE: I'd like any opinions as to how you think the seeds affect the flavor of bread. I'm interested to learn more about this.

So you're probably thinking, why not just stick with Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain?  
I bake this recipe weekly and after many months of doing so I'd like to increase my repertoire add some variety.

I love Whole Food's Seeduction Bread, but so far I haven't found a formula that baked up like their's. It's the only other bread that rivals the Five Grain to my taste buds.


Filomatic's picture

I love that recipe too and make it a lot.  Have you tried the Hamelman 5 grain levain with rye sourdough?  I think the best answer is to use the recipes you like as a guide, but work in different ingredients and methods until you find what you like.  Some thoughts:

1.  The more experience you get, the better Hamelman's other recipes are.  Last weekend I made my first Vermont SD since I was new to SD, and it was amazing.  Everyone's favorite--apparently people prefer white bread.  I also recently made his mixed flour miche recipe for the first time and it was super tasty.

2.  Experiment with different flours.  If you have a mill this is relatively easy.  Recently I found that all my wheat berries were beset by pests.  My levain was ready.  Luckily I had almost as much Kamut as I needed.  I ground it and an ounce or so of rye to replace the 50% WW called for in the Hamelman WW multigrain recipe.  It was the tastiest loaf I've made in months.  There are so many possibilities.  Look at dabrownman's posts and you'll find him using as many as 9 different flours in a single recipe!

3.  Experiment with other grains, seeds, additives, and methods.  It doesn't have to be sesame, flax, sunflower seeds, cracked rye, and rolled oats.  Try a hot rye flour soaker, polenta, sprouted grains, black sesame, sesame oil, doubling or tripling the sesame seeds, toasting the sesame, grinding the sesame, toasted buckwheat groats or oat groats, multi-grain porridge, fermented porridge, steel cut oat porridge, creme fraiche, yogurt, cheese, whey, buttermilk.  Tartine 3 has great ideas for methods and ingredients, even if the execution of Chad's particular recipes is too hard for my liking.  Try sifting flour and using the sifted bits in the levain (dabrownman again), retarding the levain, stiff levain, cold bulk ferment.  Sprout and grind grains into flour.  Experiment with 10%, 5%, 1% levain.

dmsnyder's picture

And it's way too long since I've made it.

I like Filomatic's reply.

The seeds and grains all contribute to the amazing flavor of the 5-grain levain. My opinion is that the oats are what make it most special.

Hamelman's Seeded levain is not quite as amazing but really good. 


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

If you have a bulk store close by, try different 7, 8, 10 or twelve grain hot cereal mixes. You can pre-soak them, ferment them (a bit of yogourt or kombucha added to the soaking water and leave them for a couple of days), and/or cook them first if you like.

DanAyo's picture

Wendy, are you talking about something like this?

I have nothing locally, but I might be able to get something online.

Also, how does the yogurt affect the soaker and resulting bread?


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I use their 10 grain cereal in many of my breads. The yogourt will ferment the grain (adding flavour and goodness) and should also make the bread a bit more tender. Danni3ll3 uses yogourt in her soakers a lot, I think. The fermentation will happen if you leave it a couple of days. In Tartine 3 that's an option for the porridge breads (i.e. to ferment the grains before cooking them), and the flavour is different and nice!