The Fresh Loaf

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pain au levain

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

 


I baked Gérard Rubaud's pain au levain for the second time this weekend. For background and detailed procedures, see my previous TFL blog entry. Gérard Rubaud Pain au Levain


I altered my procedure in two major ways: First, I followed MC's suggestion that I try this bread with a single levain build, rather than the three builds used by Gérard. Second, rather than mixing the flours for each build, I weighed out the total flour mix and then used the necessary portions of it for the levain and the final dough. In addition, following Rubaud's lead, I scored these loaves very lightly, and I baked them at 450ºF, which yielded a lighter-colored crust.


When I made this bread a few days ago, I had problems with the proofed loaves sticking to the couche and to the transfer peel. MC said that Rubaud does not flour his couche. He dusts the bottoms of the loaves with a high extraction flour. I dusted my couche with some coarsely ground whole wheat flour, and this worked better than the AP flour dusting had. I also dusted the tops of the loaves with AP flour to prevent sticking to the covering folds of the couche. As a result, the baked loaves have a quite prominent flouring. I don't find this particularly attractive, so I'll try to avoid it in the future.


 



 


Levain

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)

37

AP flour

35

Whole wheat flour

9

Spelt flour

4.5

Rye flour

1.5

Water

28

Total

115

 

Final dough

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)

115

AP flour

322

Whole wheat flour

82.5

Spelt flour

41.5

Rye flour

14

Water

377

Salt

10

Total

962

 

This bake was essentially identical to the first in oven spring, crust consistency, crumb aeration and, most importantly, flavor. The flavor, as described before is simply astonishing.

 

This bread is highly recommended.

 

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

 


Shiao-Ping's beautiful miches, based on MC's interviews with Gérard Rubaud, inspired me to attempt Rubaud's pain au levain myself.



 


Rubaud's bread is made with 3 very firm levain builds, the final being incorporated in his final dough. He uses a flour mix with 70% AP flour and the remaining 30% a mix of whole wheat, spelt and rye flours. Remarkably, he grinds the flours to feed his levain fresh for each build, and he uses the same flour proportions for each levain build as used in his final dough. Not having a grain mill, I used store-bought flours. I measured out each flour for each build. If I make this bread again, I would make one batch of mixed flour for all the builds and the final dough. This would save time and also be more precise, given the very small amounts of flour in the levain builds.


Note that MC's interviews also indicate Rubaud salts his levain builds at 1% of the flour weight, in order to control their speed of ripening. I did not do this.


My formula is taken from Shiao-Ping's calculations which were taken from MC's interviews. I divided her quantities in half and, rather than a miche, made two smaller (480 gm) bâtards. Rubaud mixes his dough by machine. Shiao-Ping mixed her dough entirely by hand. I started my mixing in a stand mixer, but continued developing the gluten by hand, as described below.


 


First build

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)

3

AP flour

5

Whole wheat flour

1

Spelt flour

0.5

Rye flour

0.5

Water

4

Total

14

 

Second build

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)

14

AP flour

10.5

Whole wheat flour

2.5

Spelt flour

1.5

Rye flour

0.5

Water

8

Total

37

 

Third build

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)

37

AP flour

35

Whole wheat flour

9

Spelt flour

4.5

Rye flour

1.5

Water

28

Total

115

Notes for levain builds

  1. The first levain was made with my usual firm sourdough starter which I feed 1:3:4 (starter:water:flour) with a flour mix of 70% AP, 20% Whole wheat and 10% Whole rye flours.

  2. To mix each build, dissolve the firm starter in the water in a small bowl. (I use a small dough whisk.), then add the flours and mix thoroughly into a ball.

  3. The first build was fermented for 10 hours, the second and third for about 8 hours each. This was in a cool kitchen, so your times my vary with the activity of your starter and the ambient temperature.

 

Final dough

 

Ingredient

Amount (gms)

Ripe levain (stiff)

115

AP flour

322

Whole wheat flour

82.5

Spelt flour

41.5

Rye flour

14

Water

377

Salt

10

Total

962

 

Method

  1. Mix the flours and the water. Cover and let it sit to autolyse for 20-60 minutes.

  2. Divide the starter into about 6 pieces and add them to the autolyse. Sprinkle the salt over all and mix thoroughly.

  3. In a stand mixer, mix with the dough hook on Speed 2 for about 10 minutes. There should be some gluten development, but the dough will be very gloppy. It will not clean the sides of the bowl.

  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly.

  5. After 20 minutes, stretch and fold in the bowl for 30 strokes. Cover the bowl tightly.

  6. Repeat Step 5. twice more.

  7. Transfer the dough to the board and stretch it to a large rectangle and fold it like an envelope. Replace it in the bowl and cover.

  8. After 45 minutes, transfer the dough to a floured board and do another stretch and fold.

  9. After another 45 minutes, transfer the dough to the board and divide it into two equal pieces.

  10. Pre-shape each piece into a round and let them rest, covered, for 15 minutes.

  11. Shape each piece into a bâtard.

  12. Proof en couche until expanded by 50-75%.

  13. One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  14. When the loaves are ready to bake, pre-steam the oven.

  15. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score them, and then transfer them to the baking stone.

  16. Steam the oven again. Turn down the oven to 450ºF.

  17. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the loaves is at least 205ºF, the bottom gives a hollow sound when thumped and the crust is nicely browned.

  18. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  19. Cool completely before slicing.

 

Although I got good gluten development, the dough remained very loose. This was expected, given its high degree of hydration. However, I did not expect how the loaves stuck to the “well-floured” couch and transfer peel. The loaves deflated significantly in the process of transferring them to the Super Peel ™. The latter handled the loaves beautifully in transferring to the stone. No additional sticking.

There was very good oven spring, and the cuts on the loaf which didn't stick to the transfer peel as much opened up reasonably well, suggesting that the loaves were not as over-proofed as their deflation on transferring had suggested.

By time the bread had cooled, the crust was chewy with just a bit of crunch. (I did not follow my customary practice of drying the loaves in the cooling oven for a few minutes after they are fully baked.) The crumb was very well aerated. It had an aroma that seemed whole-wheaty, yet different. The flavor was excellent – complex and wheaty with some sweetness and more sourdough tang than I expected.

 

Wonderful bread. I want to make it again, but next time I'll flour the couche more heavily.

David

 

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!


 


 


 


DonD's picture

New 'Pain au Levain' Article from James MacGuire

January 11, 2010 - 9:04am -- DonD

In the latest issue of 'The Art of Eating' (Winter 2009, Number 83), there is an excellent article by the noted Canadian baker and instructor James MacGuire about 'Pain au Levain'. He touches on the history as well as the technical aspects of making Levain (Sourdough) and Pain de Campagne. He takes you on a tour of the best bakeries in France that produce this type of bread. He even includes a detailed recipe for his version of Pain au Levain. A must read for serious bakers.


Don

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I recently made Hamelman's Vermont sourdough, and especially liked the flavor layer contributed by the ten-percent whole rye flour. However, my favorite bread in this genre remains Dan DiMuzio's Pain au levain formula. I think the stiff levain and the ten-percent whole wheat flour create a more complex flavor profile. So I took what I like from both, and baked a couple of loaves yesterday.


The formula:


480g ripe starter (67% Hydration)


Final dough weight: 1700g


Hydration: 67%


KA Bread Flour: 90% (we like a chewy crumb and crust)


Hodgson Mill Whole Rye Flour 10%


H2O: 67%


Salt: 2%


I ripened the starter, using my usual 3-build method, over the 24 hours before making the dough: 4 minutes, speed 1; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; 3 minutes speed 2 (Kitchenaid stand mixer)


Bulk proof: 2 hours and 15 minutes with S&F at 45 and 90 minutes.


Pre-shaped two boules, 750g and 925g--I have two different size brotforms--rested 15 minutes, final shaped.


Final proof: large boule, 1 hour 45 minutes, small boule 2 hours 15 minutes--I baked them serially; I need a bigger baking stone:-(


Initial temperatute. 500°F; 10 minutes with steam, lowered temperature at 5 minutes to 450*F; at 10 minutes vented oven, baked 18 minutes and 15 minutes more respectively.


I also used dmsynder's before and after steaming procedure see Sourdough bread: Good results with a new tweak of my steaming method


The results: We like it! The difference between this and a pain au levain true to DiMuzio's formula is subtle, a slightly more accented note from the rye flour than whole wheat flour, and the stiffer levain lends its more complex flavor profile.



and the crumb...



David G

chouette22's picture
chouette22

Inspiration from these boards


On Saturday I baked two breads that have been on my list for quite a while. Hans Joakim has posted on one of his favorite breads several times in recent months (here, here, here, and here) and I really wanted to give that Pain au levain with whole wheat a try (Hamelman, “Bread” p. 160). And as you know, when Hans Joakim presents something, it always looks so very enticing.



We really love it! The taste is excellent, the crust strong and the crumb wonderfully open.



Amazing that the kneading time is only about 2 minutes, and then just two folds at 50 and 100 minutes! That’s it!


I will definitely make this again!


 


I couldn’t have chosen a more different bread to be its partner: the Buttermilk-Whole-Wheat-Bread that JMonkey (here's the recipe from Laurels Kitchen Bread Book - I used the biga approach) and Salome have posted on (here and here). This dough, in stark contrast to the above Pain au levain, needs to be kneaded for a very l--o--n--g time. It  turned out very well, even though I over-proofed it (when I scored it, it made pouf, and the loaves sank somewhat; I think I should have skipped the slash altogether).
The problem is always the timing. To make Saturday’s loaves (4 of them), it took about 8 hours, and to always be around when the next fold or shaping, etc.,  is due, is very difficult. Despite my careful calculations, when my son’s soccer game went into over time (i.e. got delayed), my schedule was pouf, gone as well, and my proofing went into over time too… (by about an hour!).  Also, I have basically never baked bread in pans, but for the school sandwiches, I guess that is a good shape.



My changes to the recipe above:
I used 100% white whole-wheat flour (from Trader Joe, first time I bought this) and cut the honey in half. I also added two Tbsp of ripe starter, as Salome suggested she might do in a further test.
The taste was excellent.

wally's picture

My Excellent Adventure at King Arthur Flour

July 27, 2009 - 3:00pm -- wally

In response to a prior post where I mentioned my recent experience at King Arthur Flour, David (dmsynder) kindly suggested a fuller account of the class, and was even kind enough (at my urging) to provide a list of topics I should include. I've attempted in what follows to touch on all of them, if in revised (and perhaps stream-of-consciousness) order.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Folliwing Dan DiMuzio's guidance (and others) re creating a more sour levain I prepared a 500g, 50% hydration levain, and then fed it every 12 hours for two and a half days. I maintained it at 55°F, in our wine closet, thoroughout. Subsequently, I used DiMuzio's Pain au Levain (firm starter: 480g, 60%) formula with two changes. 1. The aforementioned 50% hydrated levain vs. the formula's 60% levain; and, 2. I encreased the whole-wheat flour percentage to 20% vs. the formula's 10%. Yes, I knew the increased whole wheat flour content would alter the flavor, but I reasoned the whole-wheat alteration wouldn't effect the sour component of the finished bread. My objectives were threefold. Maintain the same excellent ovenspring with the stiffer levain as I've been experiencing with the 60% hydrated levain. Increase the perceived sourness in the flavor profile. Finally, I wanted to practice batard shaping and scoring, a shape I haven't made very often. Except for the batard shaping, as nearly as possible, I replicated all the mixing, bulk fementation, final proof, and baking steps I've used before baking the basic formula.


Just for fun, while the stiff levain was fermenting after its final feeding, I used the 250g of levain that would otherwise been discarded to make a single, all white flower batard.


The results of both bakes are shown in the photos.


As hoped for, the pain au levain is distinctively sour, but not to the extent of many of the commercial San Francisco sourdoughs I've tasted. The ovenspring was preserved, and I'm satisfied with my batard shaping and scoring.



The leftover starter loaf.



and its crumb--closed more than usual.



David G

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