Taking the Mellow Bakers Challenge in the mellowest possible way, I made the last bread of June in the first week of July… 😉 This was a slightly more complicated recipe, as it required roasted barley – not just the grain, mind you – but “malted barley“, not very easy to find, unless you have access to a beer brewery. Following the footsteps of other bakers, I decided to make my own, and it was a fun (and successful) project!  I highly recommend that you read Susan’s article about malt and its uses in bread,  she did a great job explaining it all.

For Hamelman’s Beer Bread, you need a poolish (made the day before), roasted barley, beer, flour and commercial yeast. The malted barley gives the bread a beautiful reddish tone, and the beer a flavor that is surprisingly delicate for such a hearty-looking bread. To allow me to bake it early in the morning, I retarded the dough overnight after the final proofing.

Comments: Making malted barley seems intimidating at first, but once again I asked the help of an expert, and brought Dan Lepard to the rescue. His book, The Handmade Loaf, has clear instructions on how to do it. Here is a quick summary of it…

THe process starts by soaking the grains in water, for 2 to 3 days, keeping them in a cool place..

Then, the grains are rinsed, spread over a damp paper, covered, and kept for 4 days in a cool place, until the sprouted portion is twice the size of the grain. Aren’t they cute? 😉
(click to enlarge)

Finally, the sprouted barley is thoroughly dried (for 12 hours or so), and either roasted for a few minutes and ground (to make this bread), or dried at 50 C for several hours and ground into a powder (to make malt powder, and use in any bread that benefits from it).

Follow this link, so you can read about all my fellow bakers who stuck to the plan and had this bread made last month… 😉

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My second recipe for the month of June in the Mellow Bakers Challenge is Hamelman’s pizza dough. I was anxious to try this one, to compare it with my favorite recipe, that you can find here. Hamelman’s dough uses a biga – a pre-ferment of flour, water, and yeast – that is incorporated in the final dough, together with a small amount of additional yeast. Apart from that, the recipes are quite similar.

Last week we had a small pizza party at home, and Hamelman’s method was put to the test. It passed with flying colors, or… should I say… ballooning colors!

In the Summer, we avoid turning the oven on, so we use our grill as an improvised oven, placing unglazed tiles over its grids, and cooking the pizza on them. This is not a grilled pizza, simply a regular pizza baked inside the grill. Once you get the temperature right, it works like a charm, each pizza will be ready in about 7 minutes. My husband was the one who had the idea for this “oven-grill-method”, yet another evidence that I won the jackpot when I married him.

So, what’s the verdict? This dough deserves to share the first prize with my default recipe – excellent texture and flavor. The only thing that prevents me from placing it ahead of Fine Cooking, is the 2 hour rise with a folding cycle after 1 hour. That makes it slightly more complicated to have pizza on a weeknight. But, it is a minor detail, and I will definitely be making this recipe again and again during the weekend.

I remind everyone that we are not supposed to share the recipes for our Mellow Bakers Challenge, so if you are interested, consider buying Hamelman’s book “Bread”, where all these recipes will be waiting for you… 😉

That evening, we made 8 pizzas, this one was particularly tasty: sauteed cremini mushrooms, roasted yellow bell peppers, and smoked mozzarella. Pizza parties are a lot of fun!

Many Mellow Bakers have already enjoyed their pizzas, if you want to see their report, jump here.

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One year ago: From Backyard to Kitchen….


This bread was my choice to begin the  month of June in the Mellow Bakers group project.  It’s also one of our favorite breads, that I bake several times per month.  Hamelman’s book has three variations for this recipe,  all  delicious and easy to make, as long as you are not sourdough-starter-phobic.    😉  One of the great things about this group project is its only rule:  be mellow.   At first, I was wondering  should we bake all  three variations plus the two other breads this month?   But Paul, the wise originator of the group,  reminded me that when in doubt, ask yourself “what’s the mellow thing to do?”     So, I picked one, the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, which is similar to a bread I’ve  already described here.      No matter how many times I make one of Hamelman’s Vermont sourdoughs,  whenever I open the oven and see the loaf, I feel like a teenager whose first boyfriend just rang  the front doorbell…

This type of bread is absolutely perfect for a Croque Monsieur….

But, complying with the mellow aspect of this post,  no photos were taken after the croque monsieur was ready…   we were too busy enjoying them and thinking about our times in Paris… Good memories!   I promise to post about my favorite Croque Monsieur & Croque Madame recipe in the near future, consider this just a teaser…

Check my friends’ take on Hamelman’s sourdough by following these links:




Joanna’s blog...

Steve’s blog

Anne Marie’s blog…

and Cathy’s site….

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Have you ever had to run from one side of the airport to another to catch a flight, and managed to enter the plane just before they shut the doors?    That’s how I’m feeling about this bread – the last one to complete the May series of Mellow Bakers!   With only one day to spare,  here I am, bringing you corn bread…

When thinking about corn bread my mind floats towards iron skillets and bacon.    However, Hamelman’s corn bread has nothing to do with that American classic. It is in fact a “regular”, yeast-leavened bread, with corn meal in the dough.   The dough is also leavened with a poolish, a mixture of flour, water, and yeast that pre-ferments for 12 hours.   In typical Hamelman’s fashion, the dough is mixed very briefly, then folded once before the final shaping.    The corn meal imparts a nice yellow tone to the dough, but also makes it feel a little rough.

This is a very nice bread, open crumb, delicate flavor… Two thumbs up!

If you want to see all other bakers’ take on Hamelman’s corn bread, click on this link

For those following the Mellow Bakers adventures,  the month of June brings Vermont Sourdough (my default bread),  pizza (I definitely look forward to comparing Hamelman’s dough with my favorite),  and a bread made with beer and roasted sprouted barley (no idea where I’m going to find that :-(). Stay tuned, or… join the fun and bake with us!


The Mellow Bakers challenge scheduled three breads for May:  grissini, miche Point-a-Calliere, and cornbread.  Today I jump-started myself by baking the grissini, which I’ve  never made before.  It was  easy, in that I kneaded the ingredients  in my Kitchen Aid for a few minutes until they formed a smooth and supple dough.  After an hour at room temperature I divided, stretched and rolled the dough into sticks that went into the oven for 20 minutes.    Piece of cake…  😉

I only made half the recipe, because neither my husband nor I are too crazy about breadsticks.  I love bread, and I love crackers, but grissini have a personality conflict:  they’re not quite sure what they are, bread or crackers.   Still, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn a new method in bread baking.

Here’s the dough  at the end of rising…

Divided into 12 equal pieces….

… that are formed into sticks, some left plain, some rolled in parmiggiano-cheese with a little black pepper

After baking, they’ll keep for several days  in an air-tight container….

Comments: They were fun to make, but perhaps a bit too bland.  The variations proposed in the book might be better (roasted garlic or cheese in the dough, instead of just used to roll the sticks before baking).  If I make these again, I’ll use the alternative method of opening the full dough in a large rectangle and cutting the individual sticks  from it, which will considerably reduce the time to stretch and roll each stick.

You can see how some of my fellow Mellow Bakers made their grissini by following these links….

Abby, from Stir it! Scrape it!

Anne Marie, from Rosemary & Garlic

Steve, from Burntloafer

Looking forward to miche Point-a-Calliere, a close relative of the amazing Poilane bread….

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