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levain

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leucadian's picture
leucadian

Fougasse is my favorite easy sourdough: I love the extra crust and the ease of pulling it apart. I made these with my version of Pierre Nury's and Zolablues Light rye: 65% hydration 5% rye, 20% levain (approximate) and 1.8% salt. The levain was kept in the fridge for a couple of days before I made this bread. Overnight retard following minimum stretching/folding. Rolled in poppy seeds and fennel seeds, brushed with olive oil, baked on stone 500/400 degrees F.



 

varda's picture
varda

Today's bread is a pain de compagne.   I used and modified Bernard Clayton's instructions for Madame Doz's bread.   Compared to the milk bread I made yesterday, this is long and involved, with many steps that make the scheduling difficult, especially for a beginning bread baker, who generally can't hang around the kitchen all day.   So I allowed myself more flexibility on the times than what Clayton specified, and looked more at the condition of the dough than the clock to decide if I could get away with going late or early on several of the steps.   I have made this bread a few times already and this came out the best yet.   It starts with a "starter" with flour, water, vinegar, buttermilk, and yeast (belts and suspenders?) that goes overnight.   Then add whole wheat, water and wheat germ to that to make the levain, which hangs around on the counter for most of the day.   Then mix up bread flour and water into a dough.   Then merge the levain and the dough - balls of around equal size - into one big blended dough.   The step that I really don't understand and haven't seen elsewhere, is that when the two pieces of dough are merged, only then do you add a solution of salt in water and work that in.   Can't argue with the result though - even though this uses a fair amount of whole wheat flour, it still comes out very mild and light.   Although Clayton's total kneading time is around 20 minutes, I tried to do as little as I could and still get the dough mixed up, so as to have more of an open crumb.   I baked this in a dutch oven instead of on a stone with steam, removing the top for the last 15 minutes.  




I saved half of the levain in the refrigerator, but don't really know how to use it other than to just make another big boule soon.    It is not a starter, so I don't know if I can just add to it later without the "starter" component" when I'm ready to bake another Madame Doz.


Tomorrow - Multigrain batard using no-knead techniques.

CaptainBatard's picture
CaptainBatard

This will probably be my last post for awhile at FreshLoaf. The days are ticking away and before I know it I will be in a little town in southern France in the foot hills of the Maritime Alps. I will be starting a blog, and those of you who are so inclined will be able to follow my adventures in search of regional breads and their bakers, the trials of a Victory Garden, the building of a wood oven (I hope!) and daily life in a small mountain town.


Now back to the Gerard's Pain Levain. For this bake I have taken MC's thorough description of  Levain "a la Gerard", Shiao Ping's and David's bake and tossed them all together and did what the dough wanted me to. The overall formula was not changed from the original posting.



  • The Levain I have developed for the last several bakes is a little work horse. I have been using it quite a bit so it has remained strong and I have found it only requires a two-build process to triple in size, even with the addition of a pinch of salt. Throughout the whole process I maintained a warm environment for the beasties to flourish.

  • I allowed one hour for a good autolyse at my ddt of 82*. A good gluten structure started to develop.

  • The mixing was with a KA on low for the entire mix. To maintain the constant temperature of 82* I went as far as to preheat the mixing bowl with warm water. The air temp of my house is a chilly 64*. After the autolyse, I mixed for one minute, added diluted starter (with a small protion of the formula water) and salt, and mixed for an additional 2 minutes, then let it rest in a nice warm environment in the proofing cabinet.

  • Two gentle folds were done an hour apart. 

  • After an hour's rest, the dough was gently turned onto a floured surface. The dough at this point still needed some gentle encouragement to maintain it shape. I used the technique that Gerard described to MC, a stretch to the North and South, wait ten minutes and then a  stretch to the East and West, etc.  The 8 extra folds did the trick (considering it was 80% hydration.)

  • The shaping was done with the mantra in mind of "GENTLE... and Deliberate" as shown on MC's great video. I was taken by something that Gerard said when shaping the batards, about moving the air in the dough around ... and that is what it felt like. The dough was filled with air pockets that you could actually redistribute. I need some more practice controlling the batard with wet dough.

  • I like to start at 500*, add steam, load loaves,add more steam turn the oven down to 460*


The crumb has a nutty,creamy and very, very mild sourdough taste was detectable. I was very surprised with the crust of this bread the last two bakes. I think by not retarding the shaped loaves, it developed a crust that was a thin as an egg shell.


 


                                                          


                                                                                      Levain in Proofer


 


                                                


                                                                                              Final folds


 


                                                       


                                                                                                Divide


 


                                                          


 


                                                              


 


                   


 


                                      


 


                             


 


This is being sent to Susan@Wildyeast.con for this weeks Yeastspotting....Thanks Susan


 

LA Baker's picture

Barm in place of Levain? Confused....

February 6, 2010 - 12:31pm -- LA Baker

I want to make some of the recipes in DL's Local Breads, but I don't want to make his levain from scratch.  I have a great starter that works, do I need to start again with a Levain?


I'm sure this info is on this blog somewhere, but I couldn't find the exact answer I need.  Can someone tell me the difference between BARM/STARTER/LEVAIN/POOLISH/BIGA/PATE FERMENTE/STIFF LEVAIN?  Can you subsitute one for the other, or is one process that different from the other?  Are they basically the same thing, but merely two ways to do the same thing?

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Between last weekend's experiments with varying hydration levels, locating rye flour, and tuning up my sourdough starter over the past few days, things took a turn for the better with this weekend's bake.  If I had to rank the importance of those three, it would be a difficult choice.  I'd probably nominate the improved starter as the most important but that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't obtained some rye flour.  Of course, having a notion where things were headed because of the hydration experiments gave me confidence in what to expect, so, I suppose I'm back to where I started...


I'll start with the starter.  It was initially propagated with whole wheat flour and orange juice (didn't find pineapple juice at the store until several days later) and has always had an intense acidity.  It's residents may also have been a little too active in pumping out enzymes because it tended to go gooey after a few hours at room temps (it's summer here in South Africa) in spite of being maintained at approximately 50% hydration.  I took a tablespoon or so of the starter, mixed it with another couple tablespoons of mineral water and enough rye flour to make a soft paste.  I repeated this regimen with morning and evening feedings for two days.  Over the next 3-4 days, I introduced bread flour until the mix was mostly bread flour and a couple of pinches of rye flour, always discarding all but a tablespoonful before the feeding.  By the end of the third day, the starter was much bubblier and the odor and flavor were much less acidic.  The starter now has more of a yeasty/fruity odor.  


With a now lively, less-acidulated starter in hand, I decided that Leader's pain de compagne looked like a good candidate for a trial run.  The hydration level is approximately 67%, which is right in the sweet spot of the previous week's hydration tests.  All of the required ingredients were on hand, so I mixed up the liquid levain on Friday evening before going to bed.  The next morning it was evident that the levain had more than tripled overnight and was already subsiding, so I mixed the dough before breakfast.  Here's where I have a slight quibble with the process.  Leader directs you to mix up the final dough, sans salt and levain, let it autolyze for 20 minutes, then mix in the salt, followed by the liquid levain.  Nothing unorthodox there, except that the final dough without the levain is about 50% hydration.  Try mixing a liquid levain into bagel dough!  By hand!  At least I had the good sense to chop the dough into small pieces before starting to mix in the levain (the directions do not suggest this step).  Still, it was a long, slow, laborious process to mix the dough and the levain into a uniform mass.  Toward the end, I was effectively doing stretch and folds with the dough in the bowl, trying to get everything folded in and combined.  Needless to say, I settled for a few rounds of French folds instead of the recommended 12 minutes of kneading on the bench.  I can attest that the dough was well developed by that point.


Bulk fermention, shaping, final fermentation and baking all proceeded pretty much as advertised in the book.  It was extremely gratifying to see strong oven spring with this bread, after having had a few less-than-stellar bakes.


Here's how the finished bread looked:



 


I like the coloration of the crust.  Apparently I'm starting to get better acquainted with the oven, too.


The crumb, shown below, has a mix of smaller and larger alveoli.  Not classic pain de compagne texture but it will work well for sandwiches, which is how most of it will be consumed.



The crust, though thin, was more chewy than crunchy.  After sitting overnight in plastic, it has softened considerably.  The flavor is definitely more French than San Francisco: only slightly tangy and thoroughly wheaty.  The crumb is somewhat moist and feels slightly cool upon the tongue.  Very pleasing to the palate.


All in all, a very pleasing outcome.

wakeandbake's picture
wakeandbake

Here are some of the breads that I bake regularly and offer to customers!


Recipies are surely to come.


Rick


Wake and Bake Bread Company.


Wake and Bake Bread Company


L to R; Back Row: Mixed-Grain Levain, Sourdough Rye, Pain Au Levain.
Middle Row: Pain Au Levain, Sourdough Rye, Mixed-Grain Levain.
Front Row: Pumpernickel Rye


 


Wake and Bake Bread Company


Pumpernickel Rye


 


Wake and Bake Bread Company


My favorite!  Mixed-Grain Levain!  Even better with rosemary!


 


 


 


SumisuYoshi's picture
SumisuYoshi

Satsuma and Almond Bread


In my continuing quest to stick any fruit I can into a loaf of bread, I wanted to try adding some type of citrus to a loaf of bread. Pears, strawberries, and bananas worked, so why not right? I figured that if I left individual sections whole and was very gentle when handling the dough, they wouldn't add too much excess moisture. That meant I needed to use a rather small citrus, and since I happened to have satsumas around they got the nod. I made from zest from them to put in the dough too, and used an orange olive oil so the bread itself would also carry a bit of the citrus flavor. Almonds seem to pair the best with citrus to me, so I used some slices almonds in the loaves. In the future I don't think I'll use sliced almonds, they don't distribute quite as evenly in the dough, live and learn!


 

Almond and Satsuma Bread

Makes: 2 medium, or 3 small loaves

Time: Day 1: Elaborate starter. Day 2: Mix final dough, fold dough shape, proof, and bake.

Ingredients:

  Ounces Grams Percent
Starter      
Bread Flour 8 oz 230 gm 100
Water 5.25 oz 150 gm 67%
66% Levain 3 oz 85 gm 38%
Final Dough      
Starter 16.25 oz 461 gm 87.%
Bread Flour 13.5 oz 383 gm 72.9%
Whole Rye Flour 2.5 oz 70.9 gm 13.5%
Kamut Flour 2.5 oz 70.9 gm 13.5%
Satsuma Zest .2 oz 5.6 gm 1%
Water 9 oz 255.1 gm 48.6%
Pear Puree 4.35 oz 123.3 gm 23.5%
Satsuma Sections ~7 oz 198.45 gm 37.8%
Almonds 7 oz 198.45 gm 37.8%
Salt .25 oz 7 gm 1.4%
Orange Olive Oil 1.5 oz 42.5 gm 8.1%
Final Weight      
  64 oz 1816 gm 346.2%

 

Directions:

  1. Elaborate your starter however you choose, but ending up with the same flour and water weights. (or make a commercial yeast preferment) Allow it to rise overnight.
  2. The next day cream the starter with the water for the recipe, then add in the honey and hazelnut butter.
  3. Mix together the flours, zest, and salt, then mix in the starter, water, and oil til the dough just starts to come together as a ball. Let the dough sit covered in the bowl for 20 minutes
  4. Lightly dust your counter or work space with flour and scrape the dough out. With lightly floured hands, give the dough a stretch and fold and then flatten it out into a rectangle. Spread as many of the almonds as possible over the top of the dough, then give it a fold or two to incorporate them. Once the almonds are incorporated put the satsuma sections on the top of the dough and do two more sets of gentle stretch and folds to incorporate the satsuma pieces.
  5. Leave the bowl covered for 40 minutes to an hour, turn the dough out (seam side up) and give it another stretch and fold, then return it to the bowl. You can also give the dough one final stretch and fold after about 40 minutes.
  6. Let the dough rise until nearly doubled, and turn it out again onto your work surface.
  7. Prepare well floured brotforms, or flour a towel you can use for the final proofing of the bread. Treating the dough gently, seperate it into however many pieces you want loaves. Either shape the loaves into boules, batards, or do a letter fold and stretch them tight for brotforms. Place the shaped loaves in brotforms or on the towels (seam side up)
  8. Leave the loaves, covered, to proof, for me this was about an hour and a half.
  9. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with your baking stone (on the middle rack) and steam pan inside and heat 2 cups of water to just shy of boiling.
  10. Very gently grab loaves rising on a towel, and move them to a peel with flour, cornmeal, or parchment paper. If using brotforms, just invert the loaves onto parchment or a peel. Just before you load the loaves into the oven give them a few shallow slashes. Load the loaves into the oven and carefully pour the hot water into the steam pan. Be careful of the window and light bulbs in your oven.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes, turn loaves 180 degrees and remove parchment paper if using. Continue baking for another 10-25 minutes, the loaves should sound hollow on the bottom when complete. Remove finished loaves to a cooling rack and let sit for at least 1 hour before cutting.

I think what really made this bread work was the incorporation of the zest and orange olive oil. The weight on the zest is actually a bit variable, same for the satsuma sections, I just used 3 satsumas and all the zest and sections from all 3. The oil and zest really help bring a subtle citrus flavor to all of the bread, leaving the pieces of satsuma as still slightly juicy bursts of citrusy flavor. The satsumas don't get completely dried out, but they do get somewhat concentrated. I can definitely say this is a bread that needs no orange marmalade! The pear puree can be replaced with probably about 3-3.7 oz of water, however I think the puree helps to keep the bread a bit moist and carry the citrus flavors better. I had a little trouble with the stencil on this one, the characters had some 'floating' sections so I had to cut the stencil with small lines connecting those. I need to work on a way to make that look a bit better. Now I just need to decide on a fruit to tackle next...

Some pictures:

Satsuma and Almond Bread

Satsuma and Almond Bread

Satsuma and Almond Bread

Satsuma and Almond Bread

rrossi's picture
rrossi

As the elderly grandfather in Moonstruck exclaimed "I'm so confused" pretty much sums up how I feel right now about sourdough starters and levain....


The heart of the question is, what really is levain?   I have read many comments through-out this site that claim starter and levain is the same thing. 


If that is the case, then can someone explain a recipe that calls for levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F) 100 gms or 20%????? 


Assuming "S" stands for starter (therby starter and levain are different) W = water and F = flour... the weight for each would be 12.5 gms of S, 37.5 gms of W, and 50 gms of flour.  What do I do next if my assumption is correct? Do I mix the levain and let it ferment? if so fo how long?  or do I mix it straight into the dough upon mixing?  I don't know the answer to this and I'm having a hard time finding the answer.


I love this site, lots of great info and really skilled bakers.  I hope someone can clear this up for me.


Thanks,


Richard R


 


 

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