The Fresh Loaf

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Hamelmans 5 Grain Levain...well almost

blockkevin's picture

Hamelmans 5 Grain Levain...well almost



Hamelmans 5 Grain Levain


 So after much discussion on these boards I finally decided to make this bread myself to see what all of the fuss was about. I can't believe I waited so long...This is absolutly one of the most delicous breads that I have ever tasted. I did make a few adjustments to the formula based soley on what I had available to work with (noted in formula below), but I tried to recreate the formula as close to the original as possible to get a sense of the bread in it's purest form. I also recalculated his formula so that I would end up with approx. 1200g of dough, which is the appropriate size to fit on my stone.


Liquid Build

  • KAF AP Flour 128g 100%
  • Water 160g 125%
  • Mature Culuture(mine is 100% Hydration) 26g 20%


  • Bulger Wheat(The original formula calls for Rye Chops) 47g 27%
  • Flaxseeds (mine happened to be golden) 47g 27%
  • Sunflower Seeds 39g 23%
  • Oats 39g 23%
  • Boiling Water 204g 120%
  • Salt 3g 2%

Final Dough

  • KAF AP Flour(The orignal formula calls for hi-gluten flour) 255g 67%
  • Fairhaven Mills Whole Wheat Flour 128g 33%
  • Water 133g 35%
  • Salt 9g 2.3%
  • Soaker(all) 379g 99%
  • Liquid Build 314g 82%

1. Liquid Build & Soaker-approx. 12 hours before mixing elaborate liquid build, and prepare grain soaker.

2. Mixing-As per the instructions in the book all of the ingredients are placed into a mixer and mixed on low speed for a few minutes to hydrate the flour. I found that I needed to add about 2 Tbsp more water. I suspect that the bulger wheat in the soaker absorbed more water than the rye chops would have. When the dough begins to come together increase speed to medium and mix until moderate gluten development is reached. Seeing as I didn't have any hi-gluten flour I mixed a little more thouroughly then I would have otherwise. On speed four in my kitchenaid mixer I mixed for 8 minutes, and I achieved a fairly high level of develpment.

3. Ferment- 3 Hours with a fold at 1.5 hours. (Orignal formula calls for 1-1.5 hours)

4. Divide- Divide the dough into 2 approx. 600g. portions.

5. Relax- shape the dough into loose boules, and allow to bench rest for approx. 20 minutes to allow for easier shaping.

6. Shape- shape the dough as desired and place between folds of bakers linen or in prepared bannetons. Round or ovals are what Hamelman suggests.

7. Proof- Approx. 1 hour at 76 deg. F., or alternatively retard in the fridge overnight for up to 18 hours.

8. Bake- 30-35 minutes for 600g. batards 460 deg F. on preheated stone with steam for the first half of the bake. Turn the oven off and prop open the door and allow bread to dry out for an additional 10 minutes before removing from the oven.

9.Cool- allow the finished bread to cool for at least 3 hours before cutting.


Final notes and Impressions

The crumb on this bread was unlike anything I have ever made before, it is incredibly soft, and creamy on the tongue. The crust was lightly crisp, and not as thick as I would have expected given the overnight retarding. I would definetly make sure this bread is cooked long enough, and hot enough as it has a good deal of water from the soaker, and it needs a thourough bake to fully dry out.

Dsnyder once refered to this bread as a "flavor bomb" and I would enthusiasticly agree with that assessment. It has wonderful tart notes from the levain, and a lovely complexity from the soaked grains. I hope you all get the chance to make this bread sometime to fully experience how delicious it is.

Happy Baking



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Kevin.

I'm glad you made this bread, and I can tell you are glad too. Why anyone would deprive themselves by not making this bread eludes my comprehension.

Your crust, scoring and crumb are all stellar!


blockkevin's picture

Thanks David

Your breads, and write-ups are always such an inspiration to me, coming from you any compliment is a real confidence builder!


LindyD's picture

Lovely crust, lovely crumb, lovely scoring.  

Isn't it fun to just roll the flavors of a great bread around in your mouth and enjoy them?

Sometimes the most simple things are the best things in life. 

mountaindog's picture

Beautiful Kevin...You are right, David, I really MUST make this bread after seeing the beautiful results you, Lindy, and Kevin have with this recipe. Add this to my very soon to be baked list.

dmsnyder's picture

This bread is astonishing.


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

It really is a great bread.

Bob's Red Mill Cereal | The Fresh Loaf

SylviaH's picture

and a very nicely written up!


Aprea's picture

I would really like to try this bread asap - I was wondering if anyone knows if it would work to substitute bobs 5 grain cereal in the soaker (and omit the sunflower seeds).


Thank you - Anna

Aprea's picture

Hi everyone - I have not heard any comments as to whether I could sub Bob's 5 grain cereal for the soaker ingredients in this recipe.  I went ahead and tried this recipe with it anyway.  My liquid build did not come to the full 300 and some grams, more like 285 grams.  It is ok, because the dough seems very wet.  I used the ka until I got a perfect windowpane - it took around 6 or 7 minutes, but I added an extra minute to try to keep to the recipe.


  The reason I am blogging on this is because I am unsure that I have not messed this up.  First of all, I let the liquid build and soaker sit out for 24 hours, because I forgot to throw it in the refrigerator before going to bed.  I have never worked with this hydration level for the liquid build - it did not double, but it was bubbly.  Very potato soupy texture.  


I am about to do the 1.5 hour interval fold.  I will keep updating...


UPDATE 1:  Ok I just folded - very soft dough.  I didn't detect any rising, but I will be patient.  I transferred the dough to an upright container, and put a rubber band around the level that the dough came up to, so I can see if there is any yeast activity.  I am not going to peek for 90 minutes...

Aprea's picture

The dough doubled in the allotted time, however, it was way too slack for me to even shape it.  I put it in the refrigerator and am going to keep it there until tomorrow - maybe it will be easier to work with.  It has the consistency of a poolish.  I have this book on order from Amazon, so maybe that will help me understand what is going wrong.


Tonite - it is corn beef and cabbage with corn bread.  Happy St. Patricks Day everyone!