The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman's whole wheat Pain au Levain

Portus's picture
Portus

Hamelman's whole wheat Pain au Levain

I enjoy this loaf for its tasty flavours and bake it quite often.  However, I have a query or two about the crumb, so I will appreciate advices.  Except for adding 1.8% diastatic malt, 0.9% VWG and downscaling to one 750g loaf, I follow the recipe as best I can.  The crumb size however is inconsistent, so my queries are whether a) this is to be expected, or b) should I tighten up my shaping, and/or c) could the method of adding the levain (fist size chunks rather than e.g. dissolving) affect the dispersion of the levain throughout the dough and thus create the resulting, irregular, air pockets?

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Joe, I have no knowledge to add, but I wanted to post a reply in order to be notified of future post.

I am interested to learn.

Dan

Even though the holes are not evenly dispersed, your bread looks great to me. But let me venture a guess. You are an obsessive perfectionist :-) . That’s not me, but I have read about people like you. Hehehe...  Folks like us should form a club. Oh, wait a minute, we already have. It’s called TFL!

Portus's picture
Portus

... out of the blue the past two weekly bakes have produced loaves with blowouts.   Both times these comprised air pockets of extraordinary size - or smaller, but larger than usual, elongated holes trending upwards.  This is a curiosity as I follow the method closely and deflate during pre-shaping e.g. by dimpling the dough, as well as shaping the boules sufficient to ensure a tight surface skin.  I steam with a lava rock filled roasting that I feed with a cup of water in addition to misting once I have loaded the loaves, plus another squirt or two after ten minutes.

I still wonder then if the firm starter is the source of my problem, and whether Hamelman’s formula will fail if I dilute the firm starter before mixing into the flour as opposed to placing “the fist-sized chunks” on top, as his formula requires.

    

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

If you had a child in school that needed a science project, one of these loaves would make a great volcano :-)

Have you considered cutting your starter into very small pieces and then soaking them in your dough water? Maybe you could fully incorporate it that way. 

Your images are very small. If you put them back up at larger sizes maybe someone with that particular experience will help. I had to open each image in a new tab so I could enlarge in order to take a look. I work from an iPad.

Dan

Portus's picture
Portus

... in the roasting pan, and you have just confirmed my suspicions; ha -ha!

Joe

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’m going to be watching this one. I can’t imagine why others have not posted so far.

Dan

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I don’t see why you can’t hold back a little water (provided you have enough to hydrate the flour) then add it to the levain to make it easier to incorporate.  I think the purpose? of the firm levain is the flavour profile and perhaps the yeast population which are built during the maturation process. The little additional water added to the levain at final dough build shouldn’t change those things.  

I am just guessing here, but definitely think it is worth trying it to see what effect it has. maybe one of the more experienced TFLers will also comment and correct me if I am wrong. 

Leslie

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Leslie, I’m not familiar with that formula. Does Hamelman want the Levain added after the dough is mixed? I have the book but didn’t take the time to look.

I have incorporated stiff Levain before and it can be a challenge.

It is pretty remarkable how the doughs blew out.

Dan

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I agree incorporating a stiff levain and getting it evenly spread through the dough is a challenge, so my thinking was to make it softer and spreadable so it mixes in more easily. 

Aren’t blowouts more of a shaping issue?  I don’t get them often so I am not really sure on how to stop that.  Maybe a bit more degassing but maybe also the scoring has a part to play.

Leslie

Portus's picture
Portus

... to follow the combination advice of cutting up the chunky levain into smaller pieces and dissolving same in some of the formula water.  I will report back in due course, so watch this space :-)