The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


ehanner's picture



This is my first loaf of Pain au Levain from Jeff Hamelman's "Bread" using the starter I created using the durum flour procedure to improve sour a couple weeks ago. The starter was a bit slow upon coming out of a 2 week sleep and refreshed. It did wake and get active so here we are.

I'll post a crumb image later along with the flavor evaluation of sour.

Added by Edit: The crumb isn't very open and there is no, zero, nada sour flavor. I would say that if there is a sour benefit to be had by using durum, it may be in elaborating with durum and not an extended procedure using it. 



weavershouse's picture

I look forward to seeing the crumb and to hear what you think about the teste. They are just beautiful, as is all your bread.                 weavershouse

Chavi's picture

Whats your steaming technique? Your breads are consistently beautiful!

ehanner's picture

Thanks Chavi,

When I want to make a loaf that has the very best rise and I can make just one loaf, I use a covered top and hand steamer or just a bowl over the top. But, for the greatest majority of breads I make I have an old baking pan with a half size split of fire brick for extra thermal mass on the bottom shelf. I pour 1 cup of hot water in the pan. I have an electric oven that allows me to block the vents which are in the front. I genrally steam for 10 minutes, never open the door to add additional water and remove the towell blocking the vent after 10 minutes. Hope that helps.


caviar's picture

Is the hand steamer you mentioned the steam maker bread baker that you mentioned in an other stream? I wanted to ask you whether you found it made a significant difference.

My oven has the vents in the front and I will try putting a towel or something over it next time. I dont seem to get any appreciable oven spring and there is always water left in the pan. I guess the extra mass in the pan and maybe a cast iron pan would also help.

Of course I am a novice beginner if there is such a thing.

The comments and other info on The fresh loaf are really great and I'm into a time when I have trouble going to sleep. Instead I'm thing about doing another bread and how I can improve. Thanks to all the contributer here.

ehanner's picture


Yes the steamer I have is the one mentioned in a thread last year. Since then I have learned that the cover is more important than the steamer. The dough has plenty of water to make steam inside the cover. I do occasionally use the cover and steam generator and it works very well.

All you really need is a simple 4 liter stainless steel bowl and a pair of hot pads and a spatula to lift it off the stone.


I just want to make sure I mention again that you should never block the vent on a gas oven. NEVER EVER block a gas oven.

So let us hear or see your progress. I would worry less about steaming at this point and get so you can make  a nice basic white bread with a pre ferment. There are plenty of recipes and a good training section on the front page.

Good luck,