The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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foolishpoolish's picture


ehanner's picture

I have been baking for about 2 years now. A check of my history shows that I have been on the road to enlightenment for 1 year and 23 weeks at TFL. I started with the BBA by Peter Reinhart and then his Whole Grain Breads. A few other books have caught my interest along the way and I noticed that Hamelman's "Bread" always got high marks but some thought he was really talking to the pro audience. I started to notice that many of the breads I liked had references to Jeffrey Hamelman so I thought I would take the plunge and see if I could keep up.

To my delight, I spent the afternoon browsing my new copy of Bread. This is a wonderful book. The recipes are easy to understand and well described. Yes there are larger volume recipes for a commercial bakery but in every case there is a 10% Home version for my uses. Every technique I have been curious about, every style of bread common in this part of the Artisan world is covered with clarity and detail. Many have options for enhancing the flavors or adding ingredients to change the personality.

I have already been baking some of these recipes so I know they work, not that that would be a serious question. I'm going to enjoy trying some of the more unusual breads in this collection and learning the special techniques.

We at TFL are generous with sharing our recipes and methods and that's a good thing. Being able to pick up this book and understand the author from the first page is saying something. Mr. Hamelman is an effective communicator. This is a well written book and I highly recommend anyone who desires to understand baking and the methods involved, purchase a copy or try to get your local library to get it for you. The Amazon link from the front page here will take you to a link where TFL will get credit for the sale.

I'll be posting the results of my experiments here.



ehanner's picture

Recently I have been trying to find breads that deliver great flavor with a nutty after taste and also look good. After I found Mark Sinclair's Back Home Bakery recipe for Multi Grain bread I have come to appreciate his experience and sense for selecting grains and methods. I have made 5 or 6 batches of the Multi Grain and it is just so full of flavor I can't get over it.

I thought I would give his Rustic White Bread a try since he had recently changed the formula to include a Biga or sponge and it's a simple recipe that only requires starting the process the evening before. The link to the new recipe is here "Mark's Rustic White"

The recipe calls for a rye sour starter which I have going most of the time. I just started feeding my white 100% starter with Rye whole flour and in a day or 2 it was very active. The recipe calls for 15 grams of starter and if you don't want to convert or don't have a starter at the moment you can use 15 grams or whole rye and 1/4th tsp of yeast instead.

After about 10 hours the biga is active and has doubled at least and I think any time after that you can mix the dough. Mark has you add 50 grams of Whole Wheat in the final dough which is one of the things that helps with the flavor. It seems like a small amount but believe me this is a very good white bread.

One thing I did change the second time I made this bread was to reduce the amount of salt slightly. He calls for 25 grams in 1050 G of flour which I could taste. It wasn't salty enough that any one else has tasted it however so maybe it's just me. I lowered the salt to 2% or 21g, it's a little thing.

The dough is soft and not quite ciabatta like so you need to use flour on the counter when you do the folds and move quickly. The 2 in the picture below are 1.5 and 1 pound (on the right) which I didn't get the end tucked in.  It does seal up well when I put the bottom side up in the banneton for proofing. The crumb is slightly ope, just enough that it's a great sandwich loaf also if you use a pan to bake in.

This is a simple white bread that has a complex and delicious flavor. The biga is a natural yeast so you do get a hint of mild sourdough taste.  I retarded a loaf in the banneton overnight and got a slightly more sour flavor which was nice.

I think this would be a good base for all sorts of things. Savory or raisin come to mind. This will be my "Daily Bread" for a while. It's easy and surprisingly full of after taste flavor.  

Mark's Rustic WhiteMark's Rustic White

R.C. Hiersch's picture
R.C. Hiersch

Dear Floyd,

Thanks for the marvelous website!  Thanks for the recipes, too!   

 There is a detail missing from the Struan bread Recipe, that Peter insisted upon - Egg wash:

We used one egg to about eight ounces of water, in a 12 ounce glass, stirred with a fork, then poured into the plastic reservoir of the paint sprayer we used for that.  Sometimes, for a small batch of a bread, we'd just brush it on, but usually it was sprayed.

A home baker could brush it on.  We used to spray it on with a "buzzer" plug in paint sprayer, at the low table by the bench, before loading the loaves in the shelves on the 175 loaf rolling "train" rack, to go into the proof box.

We didn't use undiluted egg, because it was too thick, and congealed at the edges, giving "scrambled eggs in the pan", as Karen D. would say.

 The reason for Egg, instead of water, was first for retaining more of the seeds, that would otherwise just fall off, next for flavor, and lastly, for the browning of the top.

Many did not agree with it, because of the inevitable mess from overspray, but Peter insisted, and that's how we baked it - from 1990 to 1993, when I was there, from apprentice, bagging, through Slicing, to  Mixer, to Plant Manager, after eight months with that Struan, Cajun Three Pepper, Wild Rice and Onion, Buttermilk Bread, and so on, including the Pullman Loaves.

I remember "MO", the huge ex-Navy slicing machine we used to use, until we shipped it back to PA, and the adjustment period with the new slicer, and the two small belt driven slicers that we often used when everything else failed, and who could forget Brother Juniper's Breadbox!

I remember you were a dependable island of sanity, and  appreciated for your stability and drive, which calmed the atmosphere a great deal. 



holds99's picture

Here are some pictures of a batch of Hamelman's light rye that I made using a couple of dutch ovens simultaneously.  I did the entire mixing/kneading process by hand just to be able to get a good feel for the dough.  I doubled Hamelman's recipe and made 2 three pound loaves using 2 dutch ovens. We're talking "serious workout" by hand :-)  I also did a a couple of stretch and folds during bulk fermentation (20 minute intervals).  He calls for dividing the dough for a single batch into two 1 1/2 pound loaves but I decided, since I had doubled his recipe, I would bake 2 large 3 pound boules using 2 dutch ovens.  I used 2 large parchment lined skillets to proof the loaves under 2 large clear plastic bins (Walmart), then holding each end of the parchment I lifted each loaf into a preheated 500 deg. F. dutch oven (oven mittens highly recommended for this procedure), put on the lids on placed them into the oven and immediately lowered the oven temp. to 450 deg. F.  Baked them for 25 minutes, took off the lid and let them top brown for about 10-12 minutes.  Then shut off the oven and cracked the door for another five minutes before removing them from the oven.  At the end of the baking cycle the intermal temp. of the loaves was 205 deg. F.

I did not use carraway seeds in this interatation.  I wanted to compare Hamelman's light rye with Leader's Pierre Nury light rye to see the difference.  Hamelman's loaves turned out to be a very good without the carraway seeds.  But without the carraway seeds it didn't have the pronounced taste that you get with good Jewish rye, which the carraway seeds impart.  This recipe is slightly different from Leader's recipe, but very good.  I think Leader's Nury rye has a bit more flavor as a result of the process and the ovenight retardation in the fridge for 12-18 hours.  But overall they're both great recipes, only slightly different in taste and texture.  The Hamelman recipe is somewhat easier and quicker (uses a bit of yeast in the dough) but I still think it's near impossible to top the Nury rye.

Anyway, that's my experiment for the week. I recently bought a couple of bags of King Arthur whole grain with my last flour order, which have been sitting in the refrigerator waiting for some "action".  So, later this week I'm going to make some whole grain.  Haven't done the soaker thing yet but after seeing Eric Hanner's beautiful whole grain loaves he recently posted I'm anxious to try Mark Sinclair's recipe.

P.S. The memory stick on my camera filled up and I couldn't get a photo of the crumb (yeah, likely story) but it was nice and open. Not as nice and open, with large holes, as Leader's Nury rye but still a very nice crumb.

 Hamelman's light rye no. 1

Hamelman's light rye baked in a dutch oven: Hamelman's light rye no. 1


 Hamelman's light rye no. 2

Hamelman's light rye baked in a dutch oven: Hamelman's light rye no. 2

 Hamelman's light rye no. 3

Hamelman's light rye baked in a dutch oven: Hamelman's light rye no. 3

 Hamelman's light rye no. 4

Hamelman's light rye baked in a dutch oven: Hamelman's light rye no. 4

jk13's picture

3 loaves


512 gram AP

608 gram water

68 gram honey

4.5 gram active dry yeast (1 tspn)

-combine all until very smooth

-ferment 1 hour at room temp, 8 to 24 chilled.

shimpiphany's picture

as some rather large cracks were forming last night, i decided to pull out the sand.


and it didn't collapse, explode or catch on fire.


i spent an hour or so patching the cracks and then put a pan of charcoal inside to help with the drying process. tonight i'll light a small fire.

here i am putting the mud layer over the sand form:


here are the pics of the cracks after one hot day of drying. i think i didn't use enough sand in my mud mixture:


another view of the cracks:


the oven without the sand form, after patching:




next: the insulation layer of mud and straw. so far so good!

siuflower's picture

 Sorry, I don't know how to post more than one picture, so these are the rolls we learn to braid  and row into shapes. siuflower


from gardener to baker:

We (4 of us) met in 2005 Master Gardener class and continue volunteer working in our community using our garden knowledge and also learning at the same time.
Two of us are experienced bakers and the other two never bake bread before. We start our bread baking journey last week, the first bread we did was the no-knead bread, it come out perfect. These two new bakers are really interest to continue their journey of bread making. Yesterday, we used three different kinds of method to bake bread and see the result of the breads. From left to right, the high rise bread is used by bread machine and set on dough setting. Second one by mixer (Kitchen Aid), and the last two are by kneading and French fold. The students did the kneading and folding of the dough, they learn to feel the texture of the dough, check the dough with window panel, and score the dough before baking, baking the bread and cooling. The rolls above we learn to braid and row into shapes. We had a wonderful time and a great baking day.


 These are the breads we bake yesterday. We (4 of us) met in 2005 Master Gardener class and continue volunteer working in our community using our garden knowledge and also learning at the same time. Two of us are experienced bakers and the other two never


foolishpoolish's picture


shimpiphany's picture

up to the thermal layer on a new earth oven, and i hope to be baking bread by the end of july.


I built the base out of reclaimed concrete (a former backyard patio) and scavenged concrete blocks. with the sand, firebrick and tools i'm in this about $120 bucks. and, of course, about 2 grand in labor - but hey, that doesn't count, right?


this took about 3 months from the initial conception to this point, with about 5 good days of work. most of the time was spent collecting the materials.


send me good vibes that this thing doesn't collapse or explode or otherwise crush my now fragile hope.


the girl and the concrete:

the core:

half finished:

the finished base:

creatively focused image of the insulation layer, wine bottles and a mud/perlite mixture:

the mud subfloor. a layer of sand goes over this, and then the firebrick hearth:


my dad and the firebrick hearth:


the first thermal layer and the brick arch:


and a final close-up of my rather rough first layer:


if the thing survives the removal of the sand, i'll post more pictures. wish me luck!


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