I got the book last week, so today, my regular baking day, I wanted to make some. As luck would have it, after having started baking in April, I had finally decided to create a sourdough starter, but had to delay until recently due to my vacation. Last week I started creating Maggie Glezer's firm french style starter (as well as a whole wheat and rye version). The composition of that starter is identical to Leader's stiff levain (although the feeding formula is slightly different), so I used this in the recipe.
Leader's Pain au levain
Leader's Auvergne Rye Baguette with pancetta
I refreshed the starter shortly before midnight last night and it was good and ready this morning at 8:30. Both recipes use the same stiff levain, and use the exact same formula to create the levain starter (with some whole wheat added), so I made this as a single batch. I used KA AP flour (I discovered that my local Whole Foods sells Guisto's type 55 in bulk, but have not gotten it yet). I mixed the dough for the baguette about an hour later than that for the levain (scheduling reasons). I pretty much followed the rest of the instructions. Did one fold after 1 hour. Bulk fermentation took about 3.5-4 hours. I did insert a 10 minute bench rest before shaping. Proof took about one hour and 45 minutes. I did use a linnen couche so there was some additional work and care needed to transfer to the peel.
One thing I noticed is that in this book I finally found the correspondence between mixing settings describe as low/medium and the corresponding numeric setting on the KA mixer I have. That, combined with the 8-9 minutes mixing time seemed to make a far better dough than I've had before (I never mixed that fast, or that long). Could also be the starter though. I'll find out next time I make a non-sourdough.
The Pain au levain was scored in two different ways: one long slash, and several smaller and diagonal slashes. The dough took the slashes quite well. Steamed in cast iron pan with hot water and ice, and used a 3/4 in baking stone preheated for 1 hour. Oven spring was unbelievable! The crust did not quite turn out as nice and brown as I expected from pictures, but cutting and testing proofed this to be a non-issue. The crust was crackling during cooling and was superb when I finally ate the bread.
Leader's Pain au levain: crumb
The baquettes were pretty much a similar story, except that I used pancetta instead of bacon, and I did not retard the shaped loaves overnight. They just had their almost 2 hour proof. I made them just too long for my oven, causing the tips to be squashed against back of the oven and door. Slashes worked out ok, but no ears. Crust and texture on the baguettes was fabulous. The pancetta is not as strong as bacon, and there was no overnight retardation to absorb flavors, so this was mild, but still very good!
Leader's Auvergne Rye Baguette with pancetta: crumb