The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

hansjoakim's blog

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The pain au levain with whole-wheat from "Bread" that I blogged about a few weeks ago, is quickly becoming one of my favourite levain breads. Here's one that I baked yesterday afternoon:

Pain au Levain

I'm always amazed by the fact that these levain breads only contain three ingredients: Flour, water and salt. It's fascinating how three so simple ingredients come together and, given enough time, produce delicious loaves. This loaf has a subtle and mild taste, and I usually eat it plain in order to fully enjoy the flavour.

In my last post, I wrote about a new rye starter that I made. The initial motivation to get a new one going, was to see whether there would be any significant difference in flavour compared to the stiff, white starter that I've had for about a year. The rye starter is incredibly active, and I've been keeping it on a 1:10:10 (starter:flour:water) diet, with feedings spaced roughly 12 hours apart. The resulting loaves taste pretty much like those leavened with the white starter, so I guess one of them will eventually be cut loose... We'll see. Anyways, below is a multigrain sourdough that I baked with the rye starter (no commercial yeast):

Multigrain Levain

It's approx. 20% whole-rye (all from starter), 10% buckwheat and the rest bread flour. Multigrain soaker contains the usual suspects (i.e. flaxseeds, quinoa seeds, oat bran, rye chops, sunflower seeds). I gave the dough a 2 hr. bulk followed by proof overnight in the fridge.

I also baked some croissants over the weekend:


It's been a long time since I had a go at these, and I've definitely felt the cravings for buttery, flaky croissants for a while. I used the straight dough version from Suas' ABAP, and let the dough ferment 45 mins. at room tempertaure before I degassed and retarded the dough in the fridge overnight. Lamination (three single folds) the following morning, and makeup and final proof the following afternoon. A nice evening snack and splendid petit dejeuner the next morning :) They turned out alright, but rolling and shaping still need practice.



Finally, a humble carrot cake:

Carrot cake

A very moist, soft carrot sponge and cream cheese filling made this an enjoyable dessert! Three pretty large, shredded carrots went into the sponge batter (baked in a 15 cm cake ring), but I think even more could go in there to give it a stronger flavour of carrots. The most enjoyable bit was actually making small, cute marzipan carrots :)

hansjoakim's picture

My trusted sourdough starter is a firm white one, that I've had for just under a year now. We got off to a shaky start, but it's become amazingly reliable and flexible. It seems to respond very quickly to feedings and has a great leavening capacity. My only minor complaint would be that it's very mild in flavour, and imparts only a slight tanginess to the loaves. So, as an experiment, I decided to start a new rye starter from scratch, and see if this would result in more sour breads. I had lots of rye flour on hand, and rye starters are said to be among the easiest to get going (in addition to e.g. spelt starters or rice starters). I used the recipe in "Bread": Equal weights of whole rye flour and water, mix and let sit 24 hrs. I went with 50 gr. each of flour and water:

New rye starter

After 24 hrs., keep 50 gr. of the original mix, and add 50 gr. each of flour and water. Let sit another 24 hrs., and then continue this regimen, but with 12 hr. intervals instead of 24.

Nothing much happened the first 24 hours, but on the second day I got hit pretty badly with leuconostoc. The mix had tripled in volume, looked dark brown with hints of green, it was very runny and smelled rather pungent. *yuck* Well, soldier on, I say. The activity dropped markedly during day 3, and the odour became a lot milder, and smelled more of yogurt than of the leuconostoc madness. Nothing much happened in volume until the end of day 4, when the mix all of a sudden started tripling again! Phew! The culture started to smell healthy, looked greyish in colour (as I expected it should), and had a fragile, but not runny consistency when ripe and ready for new feeding. Below is a photo taken sometime during day 5. You can see some small patches of rye flour on the top - I usually sprinkle rye flour over the mix after each feeding, so that it's easy to gauge the level of activity:

New rye starter

I followed Hamelman's directions, and kept feeding out day 6, and then two more days to ensure that things are stabilized and healthy.

Today I decided to try it out, and devised a simple multigrain loaf for it. This one's approx. 33% whole rye, the rest bread flour, with a soaker of oat bran, flax, sunflower seeds and rye chops. I used equal amounts water and yogurt in the final dough, and added a tiny spoon of honey for good measure. I didn't use any commerical yeast, but prefermented 25% of the flour (new rye starter). I went with a 2 hr. bulk ferment (fold after 1 hr.) and retarded in fridge for 8 hrs. It could probably have gone a bit further in the fridge for the final proof, but I got scared with a third rye in there. It kept up well, and rose remarkably during baking:

Sourdough multigrain new starter

It was a lovely loaf, and I must admit, slightly tangier in taste than what I get with my firm white starter. A bit more sour, not overwhelmingly so, but pleasantly tangy. I think I'll keep both for the time being, and see how the new born develops in flavour as the weeks go on. In the meantime I need to come up with a name for it... I'm thinking about Aladdin, but it's far from settled yet.

To celebrate the new starter and nice tasting multigrain, I decided to have a go at a caramel cake from Friberg's second pastry book. It's a delicious concoction of a thin shortdough bottom, and two sponge cake layers sandwiching a rich caramel cream. Here I'm folding caramel sauce into the cream:

Caramel cream

And below is the cake before icing. It looks pretty cool if you ask me: You make one almond sponge and one cocoa almond sponge. After they've cooled, you use a cookie cutter to cut out the middle of each sponge, and interchange the middle cut outs. You only use half of each sponge in this assembly, so the remaining sponge layers can be frozen. Lovely thick caramel cream in the middle:

Assembling caramel cake

The caramel cream is set with some gelatin, so after a few hours in the fridge, you're set to ice it. Cut the protruding shortdough bottom, then ice with whipped cream. Decorate with some chocolate shavings on top:

Caramel cake

And here's the first slice:

Caramel cake slice

The taste is absolute caramel heaven! I really like the unusual look given by the two sponges, and the shortdough bottom gives a nice constrasting crunch to the creamy rest of the cake.

hansjoakim's picture

I loved the deep wheaty taste of the whole-wheat levain that I posted about last time, and I feel the preferment itself (a wet whole-wheat preferment) added a tangy, earthy flavour to the loaf. It'll be interesting to experiment with different flours in future preferments, as it could be an easy way to "extract" more of the flavour and aroma characteristics of the flour that is used.

I baked another whole-wheat levain yesterday, but added toasted nuts and rum soaked prunes. For the loaf below, I used pine nuts and sunflower seeds, and let the toasted nuts soak in dark rum together with prunes overnight. I think this gave the nuts a soft, almost buttery mouthfeel. Other than that, the whole-wheat levain formula from "Bread" was followed, with a final proof in the fridge overnight. Here's the loaf:

Prune & nut levain

The toasted nuts and sweetness from the prunes go very well with the slightly bitter flavour of whole-wheat. The combined weight of nuts and prunes is about 30% of the total flour weight.

Prune & nut levain


OK, I know you're thinking that Tour de France is over and all that (so what if I'm not a sports freak??), but that didn't prevent me from making some Paris-Brest pastries over the weekend! I've made these once before, and I've had a craving for more ever since... Below is a photo of the unbaked (left) and baked (right) choux wheels:


I used the recipe for choux pastry from Suas' book, and both times I've used it, I've ended up adding more eggs than in the recipe in order to get the right consistency. Perhaps I'm cooking the paste a bit too long before adding eggs? Anyways, the more eggs the merrier, right? They piped nicely, and sprung up quite good in the oven.

So much about the choux - let's be honest: The choux wheel is merely a...*ehem*... vehicle for the filling, if you ask me. The real star of the show is the Crème Paris-Brest; the luxurious, artery-clogging cream that is sandwiched between two halves of choux.

May I trouble you with a bit of choux, Madame?



Finally, for a truly ship-sinking cookie, here's my take on Friberg's Florentina surprise. They're pretty elaborate as far as "cookies" are concerned, but if you happen to have some buttercream and shortdough in your freezer (I mean, who doesn't, right? ;), this is a great way to use it all up. The florentina surprise is a shortdough bottom layer, topped with hazelnut flavoured buttercream and a mound of rum flavoured ganache, dark coating chocolate and a thin florentina cookie on top. Below are photos of the florentina and shourtdough components (left) and shortdough with filling piped on top (right):

Florentina surprise

After the buttercream is set, the cookie is dipped in dark coating chocolate, and the florentina cookie is pressed on top:

Florentina surprise

The "surprise" part of the name comes from the rum flavoured ganache in the centre of the filling - it's a mouthwatering combination of flavours: Sandy shortdough, buttery hazelnut, crisp caramel-almond taste from the florentina and a great kick from the rum-spiked ganache. Ship-sinking stuff!

hansjoakim's picture

Hi all,

This is a brief follow-up to my last post about Hamelman's whole-wheat pain au levain. I was very pleased with the creamy, light crumb of the loaf and wondered how an increase in whole-wheat flour would affect it. To gauge things, I decided to bake the whole-wheat levain from the same book, thereby doubling the whole-grain flour content.

Some initial remarks: The pain au levain with whole-wheat contains 25% whole-grain flour, is made with a stiff white starter, an autolyse and a very brief initial mixing (1 - 2 mins.). Click here for the more complete write-up. The whole-wheat levain contains 50% whole-wheat flour, is made with a liquid whole-wheat starter, and does not call for any autolyse, but slightly longer initial mixing. Despite these differences, I figured that Hamelman probably have "optimized" the procedure for each loaf, so I closed my eyes to the slightly different dough preparations, and went with his formulas as they are in the book.

Considering the pain au levain is well consumed by now, we'll have to settle for a photo comparison. I tried to snap photos of the whole-wheat levain from the same angles as I did for the pain au levain (again, click here for those).

Here's the just baked whole-wheat levain:

Whole-wheat levain

It turned out pretty much identical to the pain au levain, with perhaps slightly darker crust colour and slightly less open grigne. That could be blamed on incompetent and different slashing, though. Again, notice that flourless "rim" along the bottom side of the grigne - once again I experienced a two-stage oven spring, like Steve noticed on the previous pain au levain.

Here's a crumb shot of the whole-wheat levain:

Whole-wheat levain crumb

...and a straight comparison between pain au levain with whole wheat (left) and whole-wheat levain (right) below:

Crumb comparison

The crumb is slightly more open in the pain au levain, as you can see. From the top crust, you can also see how the pain au levain opened up a bit more during oven spring than the whole-wheat levain. Apart from that, they're like pretty identical twins to me ;) The flavour of the whole-wheat levain is a bit more intense, and the mouthfeel of the loaf is not as creamy as for the pain au levain. Given a blind test, it would be difficult to spot the difference!


hansjoakim's picture

Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris.

I consider myself a mostly whole grain kind of person, but occasionally I get this insatiable hunger for lighter loaves. Perhaps it's a seasonable thing - fish, salads, shrimps, cold wine and white loaves in July; Sauerkraut, Bratwurst, aquavit and Roggenbrot in January. Anyways, I've baked mostly rye-centric things the last few weeks, so I wanted to mix it up a little. The thought of a very simple, clean loaf appealed to me - allow the flour and sourdough to take center stage. I browsed the chapter on levain breads in Hamelman's book, and was immediately tempted by the formula for pain au levain with whole wheat. I made it once before, but it never struck me as mindblowing at the time. Hmm. What could I've been thinking? Must've been busy with other stuff. Less important stuff than taking in the intoxicating aroma of this loaf, obviously.

Since Hamelman's formulas are bulletproof, I tried the best I could to follow this one to the letter. The only thing I did differently, was to mix the levain at 50% hydration instead of 60%. I keep my firm starter at 50%, a level that my little trooper finds comfy, so I added the remaining water to the final dough instead to get the overall figure right. The formula really is an excellent exercise in how to develop the dough with a minimal amount of mixing - the effects of autolyse and folds are very clearly illuminated.

I've read comments around here about difficulties incorporating firm levains in the final dough. I've never had any issues with this, as my levain is soft and sticky (like you wouldn't believe) when it's fully ripe. After a 30 min. autolyse, salt is sprinkled over the dough, and then I slather spoon-sized bits of ripe levain on top. It doesn't take more than a few seconds of first speed mixing to get everything completely incorporated afterwards. I mixed the dough on 2nd speed for about 90 seconds, and by that time it was coming away from the sides of the bowl and it looked all set. Miracles of autolyse and insights of Prof. Calvel. Then, two folds spaced by 50 mins. each (performed while watching a movie last night), before shaping and retarding overnight.

I pulled the loaf from the fridge this morning as the baking stone was heating up. I'm not sure why, but as long as the dough is not bordering on overproofing, I like to give it some time to warm up. Probably just me being superstitious, but I like the idea of waking up the yeast gradually before *pouff* - ***hot stone***. Here's the loaf in the oven, just after the cut started to open up and the crust started to colour:

Baking pain au levain

And here's the loaf after a 45 min bake:

Pain au levain

Here's a shot of the crumb:

Pain au levain crumb

And a close-up for the crumb-obsessed:

Pain au levain crumb

This loaf really blew my mind, I was so excited when I saw how nicely it rose in the oven and how the slash opened up. Also, keep in mind that this dough isn't sticky at all. The overall hydration is only 68%, and considering that there's 25% whole flour in there, it's very comfortable to work with. I think it goes to show that it's possible to achieve an aerated crumb without going all overboard with the water. I also think that the firmness of the levain contributed a lot to the profile of the loaf. As Dan and others have pointed out, a liquid starter or a poolish makes the dough more extensible. With European flours probably being weaker than American ones (I can't really be sure before I've tried, though...), I'm definitely going to keep my starter on the firm side. That way I can get a nicely developed dough just by autolyse and two folds, as in this formula.

I bet most of you Hamelman fans have tried this one already, but if you haven't, I'm recommending it from the bottom of  my whole-grain heart. The crust is just crazy, and the flavour of flour and sourdough is exhilarating. Even though my memory is a bit hazy, I believe this is the closest I've been to the loaves I wolfed down while I was in France last year. All I need now is a plane ticket, some €€€ to spare, a slab of French butter and a bottle of cheap wine.

hansjoakim's picture

Wolfgang Süpke is a German baker whose blog, Bäcker Süpke's Welt, I've been trying to keep up with. In the blog, Bäcker Süpke has most generously posted several recipes for some of the mouthwatering loaves his bakery makes. Both Nils and Jeremy have baked gorgeous Süpke-loaves, and Jeremy even did an interview with the German Bäcker.

September last year, Süpke put up the recipe for his Joghurtbrot, and this week I thought I should give it a try. You'll find the original recipe here. I pretty much followed the directions to the letter, apart from swapping the yeasted pre-ferment with a firm levain. It's a 70% rye dough, with 28% flour in a rye sourdough, and 15% in the white levain. Here's the fully proofed dough:


The recipe was spot on hydrationwise, and the dough was nice to work with. Here's the finished loaf after just under 60 mins in the oven:


And here's a shot of the crumb:


I really enjoy the loaf! It's not very heavy for a 70/30 - the crumb is open and soft. There's a notable sour bite in the thick crust that I particularly like about it. The yogurt, at 15% of the overall flour weight, contributes a very subtle flavour note. As the rye and sourdough taste will become more pronounced in a day or two, I bet it'll be more like a standard fare Bauernbrot, but with a bit paler crumb.

My hat off to you, Bäcker Süpke! Thanks for the recipe :)

This week's dessert is another of Bo Friberg's cakes - a chocolate chiffon cake with rum-flavoured buttercream. If you're not too big on either chocolate or rum - or the combination - settle for the strawberry below. If you, like me, love both, then 2+2=5, and this would be up your alley. It's especially good if you let the slice come to room temp. before eating - the soft chiffon and buttercream both have that melt-in-your-mouth quality.

Chocolate chiffon cake

hansjoakim's picture

After rye, I think spelt is my favourite flour to work and bake with. Even though it's closely related to wheat, spelt behaves remarkably different in baking. Whenever I bake mostly white spelt loaves, I opt for a 30 minute autolyse before mixing the final dough. After the autolyse, salt, levain and yeast (if using) are quickly incorporated in the dough. The mixing times tend to be extremely short - just a couple of minutes on first speed is often all that's required. I usually do two or sometimes three folds during bulk fermentation. As the dough ferments, it tends to "sweat", and it appears to release some of the water that was first mixed into it, so well floured hands, speed and a good dough scraper are essential.

Earlier today I baked one of my very favourite spelt loaves. This is a "pain de campagne"-style loaf, slightly rustic with 20% whole spelt, and a stiff spelt levain. I usually take 15% of the total flour from the ripe spelt sourdough. Many bakers have commented that spelt tends to bake to a very dry crumb. I've never really encountered that myself, but that's perhaps because I've stuck with roughly 67 - 68% hydration for these rustic loaves. And with my spelt flours, that translates to a significantly wetter dough than an equivalent 67% wheat-based dough. In this loaf, I also included lightly toasted pine nuts - these nuts lend a complex, pleasing flavour note to all-spelt loaves.

Spelt loaf

I've tried baking these in brotforms before, but I always end up having trouble getting the loaves out in one piece when it's time to put them in the oven. No matter how well I flour the brotforms, it seems that the shaped loaves "sweat" so much, that they're bound to get stuck to them. After several disappointments, I've settled on shaping them into rectangles on top of parchment that I put on the peel. Two to three folds during bulk and a moderately tight shape contribute some strength, and make them stand up pretty well, although I'm proofing them for over an hour.

Spelt loaf crumb

Notice how brown the crumb is - and this is merely 20% whole flour. You can also see that the crust tends to be very thin, but definitely crackly and it packs a most wonderful flavour. Pair that with some toasted pine nuts, and this is a most rewarding loaf! Both spelt flour and pine nuts are costly items in my pantry, but I usually think the flavour of these loaves justify the extra $$$. If you're looking to try something new, definitely give spelt a try. It's not just hippie-loaves, y'know!

As some of you might know, I do have a particularly weak spot for rye. There is admittedly a steep learning curve when one is approaching high ratio ryes, but the rewards are great, and once familiar with how's and why's, it's a lovely (albeit sticky) grain to work with (in my opinion). I was thrilled when Nils, whose ye olde bread blogge is a source of constant inspiration and great knowledge, posted a link to a co-op (?) called Bäko Gruppe Nord in his latest entry. Several most interesting recipes are published at their site, and a couple of them I have bookmarked as "top priority". To start off, I've baked their Herbstzauber - a 60/40 dough that's mixed with rum-soaked dried fruit.

Thinking that a substantial blend-in of fruits would bog down a whole rye dough, I opted for medium rye flour in the 60/40 dough. Here's what I got right after mixing was over:

Herbstzauber dough

Once again, I went for a 1 kg boule, and here's the finished loaf:


I think the oven spring was surprisingly good, in spite of all the fruit and raisins in there. I rather generously doused the dried fruit in Cuban rum, so the booze that was not absorbed by the fruit went into the final dough. Terrific! Crumb:

Herbstzauber crumb

I had also fixed my sight plainly on one of Bo Friberg's creations; this time a cake with the humble title of "raspberry cake". Simple as that! Well, it proved to take me the better part of a day to get it all together...

Starting from the bottom, the cake is made with a disc of baked short dough (I used some pâte sucrée leftover dough from the freezer) that's slathered with raspberry jam. Then, make a genoise base and split it in two - put one part directly on top of the raspberry jam, drench in syrup and place a healthy dose of fresh raspberries on top. Pour a (most heavenly tasting) gelatine-based raspberry cream over that, and put final genoise part on top. Once the cream is chilled and set, ice with Italian buttercream and decorate! Here's a shot from roughly half way through assembly: The raspberry cream is just poured over raspberries. Quickly slide on second genoise layer and put in fridge to set.

Raspberry cake

"... you know it balances on your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine - your brand new leopard-skin pillbox hat..." Well, I'm doing the best I can ;) Below is the cake iced with the Italian buttercream. Not exactly pillbox-ed, but it'll have to do. (Need to work on corners, need to work on corners, need to work ...)

Iced raspberry cake

And here's how it came out in the end, with almonds pressed in on the sides, a layer of marzipan on top, and chocolate shavings in the middle:

Raspberry cake

Raspberry cake


Raspberry cake

hansjoakim's picture

There are a couple of things you can do with stale bread. Loaves that are past their prime can still be enjoyed for toast or paninis. Dried slices of lighter bread make for awesome croûtons. Not too spoilt breadcrumbs go well in stuffings or even in biscottis. Sourdough leavened pain de campagne is an awesome choice for putting in fishcakes. If you're really adventurous, hearty rye loaves mixed with rye starter, molasses, water and raisins can be made into kvas. If you're, as me, not that adventurous yet, you can slice stale rye bread, toast it until it's dry and dark (but not carbon), and put it into a new loaf of bread. If all else fails, stale bread is good bird fodder ;)

I recently made a boule of Hamelman's black bread - a 60/40 sourdough rye bread, where stale bread is mixed with ground coffee, vegetable oil and hot water. I mixed the soaker at same time I set the sourdough, and the overnight soak turned the mix into a (not very appealing) dark water slurry. I heated the soaker slightly to get the right DDT, and mixed the dough:

Mixed Schwarzbrot

I used bread flour instead of Hamelman's suggestion of high-gluten flour, so the dough came together after approximately 6 minutes in the mixer. By then it was well developed and pretty strong when I tugged at it.

Here's the fully proofed dough:

Proofed Schwarzbrot

It has a lovely brown, almost chocolate-y colour to it, and a heady aroma of fermented rye flour and strong, black coffee. The  aroma became even headier and more penetrating as the loaf baked:

Baking Schwarzbrot


The loaf weighs in at about 1 kg, so it baked for 45 minutes.

Baked Schwarzbrot

The loaf has a dark, crackly crust and an intense smell of dark coffee.

Side view of Schwarzbrot

I really like it - the flavour is unlike any other rye sourdoughs I've made. There are no hints of sweetness to it (as there are no molasses or other sweeteners/colour agents in the dough), but rather a subtle roasted coffee flavour that fits brilliantly with the taste of a 60/40 rye. I didn't include any caraway seeds or other herbs or spices, but I would like to try some dark caraway seeds next time, since Hamelman suggests that these pair nicely with the flavour of this black bread.

Side view of Schwarzbrot

Have a go at it! I think you'll enjoy it.


Crumb Schwarzbrot

As you can see, whether it's a black bread or not is certainly debatable - at least compared to a fully fledged Pumpernickel. But it's still very dark in colour as compared to other 60% medium rye loaves.

PS: Any other tips for what to do with stale bread?


The first locally grown, fully ripe strawberries are filling up the shelves at the local grocery store. Earlier this week, I couldn't resist the tempting berries anymore and went a little over board. They're absolutely delicious - soft, juicy and sweet with an almost blood red colour. This was the perfect opportunity to have a go at the Fraisier - a French strawberry cake. Some of the prettiest Fraisiers I've seen on the net, are the ones at La Tartine Gourmande, Tartelette and at Foodbeam (everything they make are stunning, and their takes on the Fraisier are no exceptions). I was stoked to be able to have a crack at this myself.

The Fraisier is traditionally a genoise cake base split in two and soaked in Grand Marnier cake syrup. The two layers are sandwiching a stack of strawberries and heavenly crème mousseline (crème patissière mixed with softened butter to make a buttercream slightly lighter than a typical meringue-based buttercream), and topped with a thin layer of marzipan.

Here, I'm in the middle of assembly:

Making Le Fraisier

Some hulled strawberries are divided in two, and lined along the rim, while whole, hulled strawberries make up the interior. Crème mousseline is then piped over this, before the second genoise layer is pressed on top, to flush the cream. Top the second genoise layer with a thin layer of crème mousseline, before chilling the cake in the fridge to firm it up.

After being chilled, a thin coat of marzipan is put on top. Here's how it turned out with my rather sparse top decorations:

Le Fraisier


This cake is all about good summer vibes. It's filled with fresh strawberries, the luscious taste of vanilla and soft butter from the crème mousseline, backdropped with the smooth Grand Marnier syrup.

Le Fraisier

If you have even more strawberries lying around (as I did - as said, I went a bit overboard), they're great on a tart, resting on a pillow of crème chantilly folded into pastry cream:

Strawberry tart

hansjoakim's picture

It's been a while since I last tried one of Hamelman's rye loaves, so I pulled his book from the shelf and started browsing chapter 6. I have baked quite a few of his rye loaves before, but for some reason, his 70% rye with whole wheat and a rye chops soaker has escaped me up until now. The last couple of rye loaves I've baked, have been from doughs that I've composed on my own, and there's always some winging going on with regards to proper hydration and fermentation times. With Hamelman, it's safe to let one's guard down and simply roll along with his detailed directions.

This dough was remarkable to work with. It's 35% medium rye (all taken from a ripe sourdough), 35% rye chops (soaked overnight) and 30% whole wheat:

 70% rye

So that's the partial mise en place! I'll leave it to you to guess what the different bits are ;-)  Add water, yeast and salt and you're on your way.

As I said, I think this dough was great to work with, and it came together very quickly. After a couple of minutes in the mixer, I was ready to go:

 70% rye

For such a high proportion of rye, and where all the medium rye flour comes from a ripe, fragrant sourdough, a meager 30 minutes is enough for bulk fermentation.

After a short bench rest, the shaped dough is put into a well floured brotform:

 70% rye

... and proofed for 55 minutes:

 70% rye

The fully proofed dough did not look at all as fragile as I would expect. As a matter of fact, it was pretty robust and kept its shape well all the way onto the scorching hot baking stone:

 70% rye

Although Hamelman suggests baking this dough in Pullman pans, he states in the sidebar that giant boules weighing up to 11 pounds are frequently baked in Germany. That's why I hoped that a free standing loaf could be pulled off, although there's not a speck of ordinary bread flour in the dough. All delicious chops, rye and whole wheat.

I guess scoring a heavy loaf like this would do more harm than good, so I left the razorblade alone for this one. After baking it just short of the hour mark, I pulled it from the oven:

 70% rye

And another:

 70% rye

I was really happy with this formula, and taken by how quickly the dough came together and how straight forward it was to work with. Expecting sloppy wetness, I found a firm, relaxed dough. I'm thrilled by how it came out!

Crumb shot


Crumb shot


Now for something different:

Vincent Vega: "And you know what they call a ... a ... a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?"
Jules: "They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?"
Vincent Vega: "No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is."
Jules: "Then what do they call it?"
Vincent Vega: "They call it a "Royale" with cheese."
Jules: "A "Royale" with cheese! What do they call a Big Mac?"
Vincent Vega: "A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big-Mac"."
Jules: ""Le Big-Mac"! Ha ha ha ha! What do they call a Whopper?"
Vincent Vega: "I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King."

Some months back, macarons, those tender, finnicky almond flavoured meringue shells sandwiched around a buttercream or ganache filling, seemed to be all the rage in the food blogging hemisphere. Magazine articles, websites, tutorials, heated discussions over which meringue method yields the toughest shell and the highest feet... and so on... I was taken by gorgeous food designer photos of these petit fours, and, with some practice, one can probably make sexy macarons with a shell as smooth as silk... I've just made my first batch of macarons, and I think I've learned a lot about their particular nature as I went along. First, I'm not going to get the ideal, smooth top shell since I'm not using finely ground almond flour - the item was nowhere to be found in any grocery store, so I settled on grinding blanched almonds as fine as my food processor would allow. I used a French meringue for the batter, and below is a photo of piped macarons resting for half an hour in order to get a surface crust:

Drying macarons

As you can see, they're a bit irregularly shaped (in a large part due to small chunks of almonds), and they've retained a little "beak", so I should've done a few more folds to get the "magma" consistency of the piped batter. While they were awaiting the oven, I could prepare the filling - a white chocolate ganache with raspberry preserves:

White chocolate ganache with raspberry preserves

And here they are: They got feet, they didn't crack, and they were incredibly sweet... **not in one sitting** ;-)


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Here's one of my favourite rye loaves:

70 percent rye with hot soaker

The loaf is a 70% rye with a hot rye meal soaker. The hydration is around 80%, and I put approx. 15% of the total flour in the soaker. The pre-gelatinized flour contribues to a very soft, moist and tender crumb, and gives the loaf excellent keeping qualities. The rest of the flour is whole rye (about 55%) and ordinary bread flour (30%). I make it with a firm white starter and a tiny speck of fresh yeast, about the size of a small pea (just under 2 gr.), so the loaf develops a nice, round flavour during a 2 hr bulk fermentation. Final proof is approx. 1hr 15 mins.

70 percent rye with hot soaker

This loaf is a decent compromise: It has the nice flavour of rye, and the added bread flour contributes significant strength and  lightness to the loaf. You could add different bread spices or herbs to it, but I think I prefer it plain.


For dinner, I opted for the feuillete with salmon tartar from Roux' pastry book. Well... I have been out of puff pastry for a couple of weeks, and I needed a good excuse to make some more ;-) Besides, I'd just seen a video of a chef making the quick/blitz/rough version of puff pastry, and I would like to have a go at it myself. I've made the classic version before (and I'm still blown away by the puffing power of classic puff), but never the quick version. The procedure is simple enough: Basically a buttery pie dough that is given turns, and brief rests in the fridge in between. One shouldn't do too many turns with quick puff, as that tends to break down the rough layers and diminish the volume of the end product. Enough of that... so I did four single turns on the pastry while the rye bulk fermented. No pain at all, and I was thoroughly surprised over how quick (and dirty) the method is.

I cut off a bit of the dough this afternoon to make dinner. The dough is rolled into a thin circle, and this is then rolled in granulated sugar. The sugar caramelizes in the oven, and adds a unique sweet crunch to the feuillete at each bite. Sweet sugar crunch, fresh salmon and buttery feuillete went down remarkably well in my book :)

Feuillete with salmon tartar

Roux writes that the rough version bakes up to about 75% of the volume attained by correctly rolled classic puff. Doing the rough version felt a bit like cheating, I'll gladly admit it, but for such savoury applications, I don't think it matters that much. I'll definitely go with the classic one for any ambitious dessert, but the rough version is very handy and comes together very quickly.

The inevitable: Left overs and scrap puff. Oh boy. What to do? Can't throw it away, can you? It's all butter and flour-y goodness, innit? My local grocery store had some perky raspberries the other day, so I thought a mille-feuille would finish off a long day.





Added June 27: I still had some of the rough puff pastry in my fridge, and figured I could use the rest to make some apple turnovers and a dessert this weekend. I picked up a nice batch of Royal Gala apples at the local grocery and made an apple filling. Instead of the usual vanilla/cinnamon flavoured filling, I tried a recipe flavoured with lemon juice and a liberal sprinkling of Calvados. *Yum*

Apple filling

So, for the turnovers, I sprinkled them with sugar and some chopped almonds just before baking. I think they turned out alright, but you can see that the rough puff version doesn't puff up as much as the classic one. Still tastes good, though.

Apple turnover

For the dessert this weekend, I opted for a recipe in Friberg's pastry book that I've been drooling over for a long time, but not had the opportunity to make before now. It's something he calls puff pastry apple points, and it's an interesting variation on the usual mille-feuilles. The puff pastry is baked as a thin sheet (i.e. weighed down by a second baking sheet on top for the first 15 mins.), and is cut into three consecutively thinner strips. The points are then made by stacking layers of puff, the Calvados apple filling and a Calvados cream. The whole thing is iced with ordinary whipped cream, and decorated with crumbs of left over baked puff. I think it turned out alright! It tasted great anyway, with a marked Calvados taste due to both the filling and the Calvados cream. By the way, here's how it's supposed to look: Photo from the book. Note that I took the photo before cutting into individual servings... slicing these mille-feuilles tend to become... messy. Pressing through the cream and cutting with a serrated knife through the pastry strips should do the trick.

Puff pastry apple points


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