The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Your all out favorite breads by Hamelman?

katyajini's picture

Your all out favorite breads by Hamelman?

I joyously have Hamelman's book now, finally, and reading it cover to cover and then again and going to start baking any minute......Its been quite a few years from the first edition and even the second edition.  From what I see here, TFL, many of you have baked your way through this book and many techniques presented by him have been discussed and acquired :) Makes it easy for me. Soooo, what are your absolutely favorite breads from this book?  Breads that are memorable, you go back to making them over and over, or both?  And what makes them special?  The sublime taste? Just a darned good everyday bread? So easy and works every time? Or philosophically, it was a time and place, and like a good friend or spouse (looking for them or not) just filled a space and never have to change it.  Or maybe for some this book and its contents did not cut it? It would be nice if share you share the breads you love (Or like) from this book.  And a tiny comment why. Thank you!  From me, who does not have anything momentous going on in her life right now, many loving mouths to feed, and can't contain her enthusiasm for learning to bake great bread.  

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

and by far the most popular everyday kinda bread. Simplistic but delicious is the Vermont Sourdough. Make this your basic bread and you've learned the technique that everything else is based on. It's a good solid recipe which can be called the foundation to all the others.

Floydm's picture

I think the oatmeal raisin one is the one I bake the most often and which my family enjoy the most. 

cardigan's picture

is the one I always come back to. The recipe works well for me every time and it's become a regular weekly routine for me. I've been using it for deli sandwiches, alongside (or under) eggs and omelets, and for some very good grilled cheese w/ bacon sandwiches too lately. It's great on a cold day.

hreik's picture

#1. Vermont Sourdough.  I use a variation from Wild Yeast Blog that has 100% hydration levain... I think that's the only difference. (

#2. Sourdough seed bread (I add pre-soaked cracked rye)

My personal favorites.

It's a phenomenal book imho.  My personal favorite.

Queen of Tarts's picture
Queen of Tarts

... my favorites are rye with toasted sunflower seeds for sandwiches, five-grain rye for great morning toast, and walnut rye when we have a lot of cheese around (I may also include raisins).  I'm also crazy about the semolina levain with toasted sesame seeds (not the poolish version from the first chapter).  I use KAF durum flour with very good results. It's chewy, naturally sweet, and has beautiful yellow crumb.  The addition of toasted sesame is a must.  It's definitely my favorite bread baking book.

plevee's picture

The 5 grain sourdough with rye starter. Wonderful fresh and even better toasted.

katyajini's picture

Thank you so much everyone.  Definitely making a note of these favorites.  I am going to start with the Vermont Sourdough which seems so popular! It will be my very first all sourdough bread. 

Two small questions about the recipe:

He starts the overnight build with just 2 Tbs (28gms) of the active starter and says it should be a liquid starter.  Here, in your opinion or experience does it really matter whether you use a liquid starter (even being particular about whether it should be 100% or 135% hydration) or a stiff starter?  Would the flavor of this little bit of starter carry over into the finished bread perceptibly?  

Let me say I have been playing around with my 6 week old starter maintaining different jars at different hydration just to see what it is like. There is no doubt there is difference in scent to them.  Even a 100% starter that I maintain 1:1:1 (30gms stater: 30gms flour : 30gms water) fed twice a day by removing all but 30gms and adding 30gms water + 30 flour smells different from the the same 100% original starter  maintained by feeding once a day but at 10gms starter +50gms flour +50 gms water  and stirred 2x.  I also have a 60% hydration starter.

I am just going to go with one of these but wonder if you an opinion on this?

Forward a few pages there is the pain au levain.  Standing back a little the significant difference is the build is stiff dough.  This makes a huge difference to flavor/texture?

getting started!

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

When he says liquid starter he means 125% hydration which is the same hydration as all his leavens.

If your starter is 100% hydration you could do one of the following...

1: build a 125% hydration levain taking this into account and adjust slightly so your end Levain is the same. 

2: he only starts off with a small amount of starter and builds a big Levain. So you could ignore the slight discrepancy.

3: do a pre Pre-Ferment. 12 hours before starting his levain build do a build of your own turning some of your starter into a 125% hydration bread flour starter and then proceed with the Levain build in the recipe. Two builds, strong starter, and closer to what is described in the book. 

4. The recipe from wild yeast blog which Hester recommended is the Vermont Sourdough just with a 100% hydration levain so no need to adjust. Build enough Levain using the the ratio 1:5:5 and then follow the recipe. 

katyajini's picture

Floydm:  I have made that oatmeal raisin bread from your post previous to having the book.  It works great for us too.  I had a loaf of that frozen for a while (6-7 weeks?).  The bread had lost nothing on freezing. In fact it was better.  The flavor of the wheat, raisins and cinnamon had blended and become smoother, the moisture and sweetness of the raisins seemed to have blended too.  This bread freezes well for more reasons than one!

katyajini's picture

Queen of Tarts can't wait to try that semolina....

The rye breads will have to wait a little.