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pain au levain

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Mebake's picture
Mebake

 


This is my second attempt at this recipe, my first attempt is HERE. I'am very content, as this is the best Pain Au levain i've baked so far. I've made changes to the Recipe and procedures as compared to the earlier attempt. The changes were:


1 - I increased the % of prefermented flour from 15% to around 20% (THANK YOU ANDY!)


2 - I was meticulous about the last 3 refreshments of the starter prior to building my levain (THANK YOU LARRY!)


3 - I used an all white starter, instead of the Mixed flour starter i used earlier.


4 - I stretched and folded (letter-wise) on a bench instead of in the bowl, twice.


5 - I milled the sea salt to a fine powder.


6 - I did not include a freshly milled WW flour, instead, i used a strong WW flour.


7 - I made sure the final dough temperature was 76F or 25C, by means of immersing my hands to mix the dough, which gave warmth to the dough.


8 - I patted down the dough to redistribute the fermentation bubbles after initial fermentation.


9 - I steamed the oven for 10 minutes, as the bread started taking color quickly.


10 - The doughs fermented exactly as per the book instructions, i.e. 5 hours Total fermentation.


11 - I divided the dough into two 1.5 lb pieces.


And this is how the breads turned out!






The flavor was Superb, with subltle acidity, and wheaty aroma from the wholewheat. This is a keeper.


khalid

gcook17's picture

Pain au Levain

April 18, 2011 - 3:44pm -- gcook17

Ever since DonD posted the info about the pain au levain article in the Art of Eating (unfortunately I can't put in a link because for some reason this forum won't accept it--it says the spam filter was triggered) I've been using the formula in the article.  I think it is second only in flavor to Hamelman's Point a Calliere but it's first in terms of crumb and texture.  Right after DonD posted this I ordered a copy of of the magazine and make a loaf every couple of weeks.  Here's today's loaf:

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


These are a couple of 755 gm bâtards of Hamelman's Pain au Levain I baked today. I think they illustrate the points made recently in discussions of scoring, ears and bloom, for example in Varda's topic To ear or not to ear.


To quote Michel Suas from Advanced Bread and Pastry again,



If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development. (Suas, pg. 116.)



These loaves were scored with a razor blade mounted on a metal lame. The blade was held at a 30º angle. The cuts were about 1/2 inch deep. I think the coloration of the bloom attests to the slow spread to which Suas refers.




I think you can clearly see three distinct colors in the bloomed crust, progressively lighter in color from right to left, with the lightest color being that under the ear. As the cut opens up during the bake, it does so slowly over a prolonged period. The darkness of the bloom demonstrates the length of time each area was directly exposed to the oven's heat. The ear keeps the area under it sheltered from the heat so it doesn't form a crust, but, as the bloom widens, the previously sheltered area becomes uncovered by the ear, and it begins to brown.


Scoring with the blade perpendicular to the loaf surface thus results in less bloom, and the blooming is terminated sooner in the bake. The coloration of the bloom is more uniform. An example - a Vermont Sourdough I also baked today:



I hope this helps clarify the point of the ear - how you get it and why you might want to.


David


Submitted to YeastSpotting

varda's picture
varda

A recent blog post made me sit up and take notice.   http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22954/getting-grigne-observation shows two loaves; one made with steam at the beginning of the bake, the second steamed later in the process.   The first one looks better by a lot.   Lately I've been making batards with two cuts.   The most frequent outcome is that one of the cuts opens nicely and takes most of the bloom of the loaf, and the second opens a bit, and then seals over.   In trying to diagnose this I thought it might be either a shaping or a steaming issue.    So I changed my batard shaping so that instead of rolling toward me (a la Ciril Hitz) I roll away (a la Mark from the Back Home Bakery).   The latter method seems to allow me to get a tighter gluten sheath so I'm sticking with it.   However, it didn't seem to solve the problem.   Yesterday, I decided to see if more steam at the beginning of the bake would help.   I made a pain au levain (almost the same as Hamelman p. 158 but with higher hydration 69% vs 65%, higher percentage of prefermented flour 17% vs 15% and a lot less salt.)   The only change I made to my regular baking process was to add a dry broiler pan underneath the stone during preheat, and fill it with water at the same time as loading the loaves.   This is in addition to my usual loaf pans filled with water and wet towels which I place on each side of the stone.  Here is the result:


 



Not a perfect loaf by any means, but the first time in recent memory where my cuts opened evenly.   Should I attribute this to the extra steaming at the beginning of the bake?  I think so.


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have always been taken by the photos of European bakery's that produce large loaves of bread. The Polain Miche is the shining example of bread for the week. After all of the beautiful posts of miche breads here recently, I let my inner drive get the best of me and decided to make as large a bread as I could manage on my stone. I made a mix consisting of about 7% rye and 93% bread flour. The levain contained 10% dark rye and the balance was fresh ground whole rye. I also added some toasted wheat germ. I basically followed David's Miche post except I used rye instead of whole wheat.


The 2300 gram dough was too large for my sfbi large linen basket so I proofed the rather slack dough in a large plastic steep sided bowl with a couche linen cloth lining the bowl. The dough nearly filled the bowl when starting the proof time and it turns out my couche cloth could have been larger. I let the dough proof for just over 1 hour after a 3 hour ferment time that produces a nice aerated and active dough.


I have been happy with my results shaping these higher hydration doughs recently. I dumped the dough out onto a floured counter and pull the dough edges up around the circumference to the center. Much like making a kaiser roll. Then I roll the ball over and let it rest for 20 minutes or so covered with a large bowl. After resting, I leave the ball on the seamed side and tighten by pushing it around the un-floured counter top and drawing the skin ever tighter in the process. Finally, I dust the top of the ball with my rice flour and AP combination, pick up the ball and place it, inverted in the banetton (in this case, my jury rigged bowl). Proofing was done in the microwave following boiling a cup of water to warm it up. It was Zero last night with 40 mph winds so the kitchen was a little cooler than I would have liked for proofing.


The oven was turned on at 500f when the proofing started. I knew this wasn't going to be fully proofed due to the size of the dough in the bowl. After an hour, I inverted the dough onto a sheet of parchment dusted with corn meal and I'm amazed at how well it stood up. Had it pancaked, I would of not been able to keep it on the paper.


Forgive me for attempting to score with breadsong's wonderful looking Miche in mind. Hers is so beautiful I had to try my hand. Trust me it's not as easy as it looks or rather as easy as breadsong makes it look. I ham fistedly made some cuts that (as my artist wife pointed out) were too deep. Lol I'll learn for next time.


Baked for 20 minutes at 450F then another 35 minutes at 430F, I gave it the anti alien treatment (foil cover) for the last 12 minutes when I rotated the browning boule. It sang loud and clear as it cracked and popped during cooling. This is a large loaf of bread. My family is wondering what I was thinking. Cheese Fondue is on the menu this evening.


The flavor has a mild tang but was not retarded. The rye helps bring out the acids that deliver those flavors. Moderately aerated, the cells are nicely gelatinous. A chewy mouth feel and nice aroma from the bold bake can be tasted. I do think the flavor would have benefited from an overnight cold fermenting. So then, here it is. My Jumbo Miche.



It's hard to get a sense of scale here. Note the bread is as wide as the sheet pan.



My stalks of grain look like redwoods lol.



A slice off the end reveals a nicely aerated crumb.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

During our last trip to Portland I lured my (for good reasons) wary husband to go with me to "Rabelais", with the sanctimonious promise "just wanting to look what's new". Rabelais is cooks' equivalent to an opium den, a famous cookbooks-only store; they carry probably every English language (and several foreign language) cookbook on the market, plus many antique ones. Leafing through all these enticing books, looking at all those mouthwatering photos, leaves the mind boggled and the eyes glazed over...We left the store, I with my broken promise - and Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads & Pastries" -, and my cautious Richard with a (twice as expensive!) magnificent Vietnamese cookbook.

What had caught my attention in Hedh's book was the leaven used in several Pains au Levain - yeast made of raisins or apples. With all that discreetly fomenting leftover apple yeast water in my fridge - thanks to RonRay - I needed another baking challenge after producing one nice  loaf with this strange homemade yeast. Reading the recipes I was quite astonished to learn that fruit yeast is regularly used by French and Italian (and obviously also some Swedish) bakers as milder sourdough alternative. From Ron's (RonRay) and Akiko's (teteke) discussion on fruit yeast breads I had assumed that this was a (somewhat exotic) Japanese invention!

Following Hedh's recipe I cultivated a "mother" (1. step), "chef" (2. step) and then the levain from about a teaspoonful of apple yeast water. When I placed the Pain au Levain in the oven, it looked to me somewhat flat, and I was a bit concerned about it's oven spring capacities. While we were drinking tea, I kept one eye on the oven. At first the rim rose a bit, the middle seemed to cave in - and then I watched incredulously how my bread started growing a veritable horn!

After some suspenseful minutes the whole loaf began to swell ominously, but fortunately stopped short of exploding.

Pain au Levain from Jan Hedh's "Swedish Bread & Pastry

Holey loaf! Apple Yeast Gone Wild - or only baker's impatience?

 

The bread tasted great, and even with the large holes, we managed to butter the slices and eat them with Südtiroler Speck and Fontina.

This weekend I gave it another try. With the first loaf I had made the dough with brief kneading and autolyse - whereas Jan Hedh suggests long kneading, at low speed, without autolyse. I wanted to see whether it would make any difference if I used his technique, and, also, whether a longer rise in the banneton would affect the bread's "holeyness".

The first loaf I had made with a whole wheat and rye addition, for the second I wanted to use some leftover kamut. The longer kneaded dough got warm faster than stated in the recipe - the water should have been colder - but I didn't notice the slightest difference in dough consistency or performance to the one I made before. And I like the idea with brief kneading and autolyse much better.

This time I tried to catch the exactly right moment of the optimal rise before placing the bread in the oven. And then I watched and - saw another horn growing, though less pronounced than the first one. And the bread had, again, a very strong oven spring.

Pain au Levain with kamut

So I guess it's really The Power of The Apple Yeast

The kamut version tastes as good as the first bread. And now I'm going to have a slice!

 

 

TerryTB's picture

Quintessential French Sourdough - Pain Au Levain [Leader]

December 15, 2010 - 7:37am -- TerryTB

[First Post!]


When I first attempt a new bread, I don't know what to expect.  Much like a piece of art, I have an end goal in mind, but by the time I am to the "perfecting" stage, it could be mistaken for a completely different project from which it began.


Pain au levain.  Universal, complex, subtle.

Franko's picture
Franko


Pain au Levain with Red Fife Whole Wheat Flour


Every year in November Marie and I make a point of attending one of our local Christmas craft fairs in hopes of finding some unique items for gift giving as well as for ourselves. This year the fair had more vendors than I've seen in previous years, with lots of newcomers from various locales in BC as well as Washington state. One of the newcomers was a fellow by the name of Bruce Stewart who owns and operates a craft bakery called True Grain Bread in Cowichan Bay here on Vancouver Island .


http://truegrain.ca/


When I met Bruce he was handing out samples of his Christmas fruit cake to a group of folks and quickly offered some to Marie and I. Now I'm not usually a big fan of fruit cake but this was exceptional, and superior to any I've had in the past. Bruce is a very genial guy and clearly has a lot of enthusiasm and passion for his craft and product, so the two of us easily fell into a conversation when I mentioned that I was a professional baker as well. At his bakery Bruce mills most of the flour he uses on site, to make a wide variety of breads, including rye, spelt, kamut, emmer, and most interesting to me, Red Fife wheat . Red Fife is one of Canada's premier grains and listed on the Slow Food Organization's 'ark of taste' as Canada's first presidium. For more background on this click the link below.


http://www.slowfoodfoundation.org/eng/arca/dettaglio.lasso?cod=547&prs=PRINT_1192


If you look on the left of the page in the link above you'll find another link to the 'Ark of Taste' which lists all the various foods of countries that the Slow Food Org considers worthy of cataloguing and preserving for future generations. Our TFL members from the USA might find it interesting to note that they have 139 listings for various food groups, more I believe than any of the other nations listed.


While I was chatting with Bruce I noticed he had some bags of flour for sale and asked if he had any Red Fife that I could buy, as I've yet to run across it for sale at any of my usual sources for flour. Bruce smiled and asked me if I wanted the sifted or the whole grain and how many bags. I went with a bag of whole grain Red Fife and a bag of his unbleached organic white , which is one that he doesn't mill himself. I'm kicking myself now for not getting the Red Fife sifted, but it gives me an excuse to take a drive down Island and pick some up at his bakery and maybe get a tour of his shop as well.


Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat Flour was the formula I decided to use the Red Fife in since his formulas are so reliable and familiar to me. First I needed to convert some left over liquid whole wheat starter to a stiff starter using the Red Fife, and then to a levain for the final mix. This took a few days of feedings before it was good and active, and ready for use. I mixed the levain one night before going to bed , intending to use it the next day when I got home from work. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans. We've been having some record cold temperatures here on Vancouver Island this last week, making my 70k commute to work in the wee hours of the morning somewhat treacherous. While I was at work my wife called to tell me that another front was moving in and another dump of snow was expected to happen overnight. I decided to stay in town that night rather than try and do the drive back up Island the next morning in even worse road conditions than we already had. Realizing I'd probably have to start over again with the levain was slightly disappointing but preferable to finding myself off the road in a ditch... or worse. The next afternoon I managed to get home without any problems thankfully, and immediately tested the levain to see if it had any life left. Lo and behold it did, popping to the surface of a bowl of warm water I'd placed a few grams in. The rest of the mix went according to Hamelman's directions, but mixed by hand. I'd scaled the mix so that I'd have two 900 gram dough pieces for baking, which I then molded after a 3hr bulk ferment as a batard and a boule, covered with linen, and put overnight on a shelf in our very cold garage to finish a slow rise.


The next morning I checked the loaves and was surprised to find that they'd risen quite a bit more than I'd expected due to an overnight warming of the outside ambient temperature. I could tell the batard was over proofed, but not so far gone it wasn't worth baking off, and the boule looked to be fine in it's banneton. The batard was baked first, on the stone with a foil roasting pan covering it for the first 20 minutes, and the boule was baked using the Dutch oven method. The batard turned out as expected, with low volume and spring, but the boule baked off quite well I thought, with lots of expansion, a good jump, and no wild splits.


To my taste the Red Fife has a certain sweetness to it that I don't find in other whole wheat flours, and which helps to bring out it's rich wheat flavour. Combined with the white and medium rye flours called for in Hamelman's recipe it works nicely to boost the overall flavour of his very good formula. This bread will go perfectly with tomorrow nights meal of red wine braised short ribs and a white bean and tomato gratin that I'm making for our family dinner.


It looks like things are warming up a bit now and the roads are getting back to normal, so with any luck I'll be able to make the drive down to Cowichan Bay to pay Bruce and his bakery a visit sometime in early 2011.


Best Wishes,


Franko





 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


 


I've been thinking about baking a sourdough nut bread for some weeks. They are so nice plain and with cheese. With lots of family expected for several days around Thanksgiving, I'll want a variety of breads I can take out of the freezer to serve with meals and for snacks. I like to serve sourdough nut breads with hors d'oeuvres.


I thought over the breads with nuts I've made before but decided to try something new: a French-style (not too sour) Pain au Levain with hazelnuts and currants.


I based the bread on Hamelman's Pain au Levain from “Bread.” I added about 25% nuts and currants to the dough at the end of mixing and followed Hamelman's procedure for bulk fermentation, proofing and baking.


 


Levain build

Wt.

Baker's %

KAF AP flour

4.6 oz

93.50%

Medium rye flour

0.3 oz

6.50%

Water

3 oz

60.00%

Mature (stiff) starter

1 oz

20.00%

Total

8.9 oz

 

 

Final dough

Wt.

KAF AP flour

1 lb, 9.8 oz

Medium rye flour

1.3 oz

Water

1 lb, 1.8 oz

Salt

0.6 oz

Levain

7.9 oz

Roasted hazelnuts

4 oz

Zante currants

4 oz

Total

3 lb, 13.4 oz

Procedure

  1. Mix the final levain build 12 hours before the final mix. Cover the bowl and let it ferment at room temperature (about 70ºF).

  2. Mix all the ingredients except the salt and levain to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 20-60 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and distribute chunks of the levain over the dough. If using a stand mixer, mix with the paddle at Speed 1 for 1-2 minutes to incorporate the added ingredients and then with the dough hook for about 6 minutes at Speed 2. There should be moderate gluten development. Add the hazelnuts and currants and mix for another 2 minutes or so at low speed. Desired dough temperature is 76ºF.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and knead briefly to evenly distribute the nuts and currants. Then round it up and place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.

  5. Bulk ferment for 2 ½ hours with two folds at 50 minute intervals.

  6. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and preshape as rounds or logs. Let the pieces rest for 20 minutes.

  7. Shape each piece as a boule or bâtard and place en couche or in a banneton. Cover with plastic or a towel.

  8. Proof the loaves for 2 to 2 ½ hours.

  9. Preheat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place 45 to 60 minutes before baking.

  10. When proofed, transfer the loaves to a peel, score them and transfer them to the baking stone.

  11. Turn the oven down to 440ºF and bake with steam for 15 minutes, then in a dry oven for another 25-30 minutes.

  12. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack, and cool completely before slicing.

     

    Notes on my baking procedure

  • To steam the oven, I use a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks. This is pre-heated along with the baking stone. Right after the loaves are loaded on the stone, I place a perforated pie pan with 10-12 ice cubes on top of the lava rocks.

  • I start my bake with the oven at conventional setting. At the end of the steaming period, I switch the oven to convection bake and lower the temperature 25ºF.

  • For this bake, when the loaves were fully baked, I turned off the oven and left the loaves on the

    stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.





We tasted the bread when (almost completely) cooled. The crust is very crunchy. The crumb was denser than I had hoped, although this is a rather low-hydration bread. My experience with nutted breads has always been that the crumb tends to be less open than expected, so now I expect it.


The crumb was very chewy. The flavor of the bread was lovely, with no perceptible sourness, except for the sweet-sour flavor of the currents. At this point, the bread, nuts and currents each contributes its distinctive flavor. Quite nice.


I'm looking forward to having this bread toasted for breakfast. 


David


Submitted to YeastSpotting


 

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