I decided to attempt Pain au Levain again, but this time with a few changes.
1.) I added Flax meal, Corn meal, and Rye to make my own "Country" Pain au Levain.
2.) I baked it as 1 huge boule instead of 2 smaller ones.
3.) I proofed for 4 hrs BEFORE retarding in the fridge this time.
4.) I had to significantly increase the baking time due to the size of the boule.
5.) I used the starter I had stored in the freezer because I managed to screw up the one I had going in the fridge. I refreshed it 2 times before using in this recipe.
Ok, so now that I've stated the changes, let me say that this is the first time I've ever experimented with a loaf....and by that I mean alter the flour composition and types of flours used. I think this turned out better than my first loaves in that it's definitely prettier....but I'm not overly pleased with the crumb yet. The crust is also significantly better than my first attempt.
The day before I mixed the dough, I cut my starter into 6 equal pieces (weighing a total of about 7oz). I kneaded in 1/3 c water with 4.5oz unbleached bread flour and let that develop for 4 hrs before refrigerating it overnight.
The next day I made the final dough by cutting the starter into 6 equal pieces (about 11.5 - 12oz) with the flours, water and salt. Here are the percentages I used....
100% UnBleached Bread Flour (18 oz)
89% Water (16oz)
64% Starter (11.5 oz)
11% Rye (2oz)
11% Flax Meal (2oz)
11% Corn Meal (2oz)
1.7% Salt (0.3oz)
I hope I did my calculations right...please tell me if I didn't. The decimal demon still gives me problems every once in awhile. Ok...maybe all the time.
I kneaded the dough and let it rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 3 hrs. It seemed to swell a little but I couldn't tell if it was a "flattening out" compared to a swelling. Before....
But either way I continued on to shaping. Before I made my boule, though, I did do a few stretch and folds to help with structure because the dough was soft and a little wetter than my first attempt. I was nervous and decided it wouldn't hurt. So then I made my boule and put it back in my clean glass bowl to proof. I let this go for 4 hrs....I had made this at night so when I went to bed at 10pm I set my alarm for 2am to stick it in the fridge.
The next night, I turned my loaf onto a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal and scored it, topped it with a little Flax meal and popped it in the oven.
I baked it at 475 degrees with a pan of hot water for 2 min., spritzed the oven and loaf with water and then lowered the temp to 450 for 30 min. At this point I could already tell I was a step closer to getting the loaf I want because of the oven spring (even if it wasn't as much as I would have liked to see it was still there). I kept increasing the baking time by 10 min. until the loaf registered 195 degrees. This took about 1hr 35 min.
I left it to cool until the next morning.
The crust was "crustier" and more crackly than last time (MUCH BETTER!) and the taste was great....I was able to get the mild flavor of sourdough with the nutty flax.
However, this bread is still pretty dense and I noticed it was more moist than the first loaves I made. A little more than I'd like. I'm guessing I should cut back on the hydration? As far as getting a softer/lighter crumb....should I let it proof longer? Add some instant yeast for added boost? Knead it longer? Make a better/more active starter even though when I was refreshing it, it tripled in volume within 8 hrs each time? I'm not sure what to do or what to try next so any suggestions would be very helpful!