The Fresh Loaf

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pain au levain

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

 


Even before the recent crop of beautiful breads made with James McGuire's “Pain de Tradition” formula, I had been planning to bake the “Miche, Point-à-Callière” from Hamelman's “Bread” this weekend. Hamelman attributes this bread to McGuire, whose intention was to replicate the type of bread baked by the first French settlers of what ultimately became Montreal. The name of the bread, “Pointe-à-Callière,” was the name of their first settlement.



Miche, Pointe-à-Callière


The other, more well-known, bread meant to approximate French bread of that era is Pain Poilâne. Hamelman's formula is for a 82% hydration Miche (very large boule) made with high-extraction flour. It is a pain au levain with no added yeast. The principal difference between McGuire's and Poilâne's miches is the higher hydration of McGuire's. Actually, I make this bread with 2 oz less water than Hamelman calls for, which makes it a 76% hydration dough.


I have made this bread with first clear flour, Golden Buffalo Flour (a high-extraction flour from Heartland Mills) and with a mix of bread flour and whole wheat. Personally, I prefer the results with first clear flour over the others.


 


Overall Formula

 

 

High-extraction whole-wheat flour

2 lbs

100.00%

Water

1 lb, 8.2 oz

76.00%

Salt

0.6 oz

1.80%

Total

3 lb, 8.8 oz

177.80%

 

Levain Build

 

 

High-extraction whole-wheat flour

6.4 oz

100.00%

Water

3.8 oz

60.00%

Mature culture (stiff)

1.3 oz (3 T)

20.00%

Total

11.5 oz

 

 

Final Dough

 

 

High-extraction whole-wheat flour

1 lb, 9.6 oz

 

Water

1 lb, 4.4 oz

 

Salt

0.6 oz

 

Levain

10.2 oz (all less 3 T)

Total

3 lb, 8.8 oz

 

 

Procedure

  1. Make the levain about 12 hours before you want to mix the dough. Dissolve the mature culture in the water, then mix in the flour. Cover tightly and ferment at room temperature. (I let the levain ripen at room temperature for about 10 hours overnight. I then refrigerated it for another 6 hours. This was a matter of my convenience. It probably did increase the sourness of the final dough, which happens to be fine with me.)

  2. To make the dough, mix the flour and water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one that can handle this much dough. Cover and let stand for an autolyse of 20-60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the dough, add the levain in chunks and mix thoroughly. Hamelman says to mix the dough at second speed for 2 to 2 ½ minutes to get a loose dough with only moderate gluten development. This time would be for a professional spiral mixer, of course. DDT is 76F. (I mixed the dough in a Bosch Universal Plus. It took about 4 ½ minutes to get what I regarded as “moderate gluten development.” I think one could easily use the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique with this bread and achieve equally good results, if not better.)

  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, large bowl, cover tightly and allow to ferment for 2 ½ hours. Fold the dough twice at 50 minute intervals. If the gluten development was less than “moderate” after mixing, a third fold may be needed. If so, do the three folds at 40 minute intervals.

  4. After fermentation, transfer the dough to a floured board and lightly pre-shape into a round. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes, then gently round up the dough and transfer it to a well-floured banneton. Cover with a slightly damp towel or with plasti-crap. (The miche could be proofed on a well-floured linen couche, in principle. I have never attempted to transfer a slack dough loaf of this size from a couche to a peel. I imagine the results would be … amusing.)

  5. While the bread is proofing, pre-heat the oven to 500F and set up your steaming method of choice. (Hamelman calls for heating the oven to 440F.)

  6. After steaming the oven and loading the bread, turn the oven down to 440F. After 15 minutes, remove the steam source and turn down the oven to 420F. Hamelman says the total bake time is “about 60 minutes.” You can leave the miche in the turned off oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes after the bread is done. This will dry out the crust somewhat, but this is a very wet bread, and the crust will soften.

  7. Cool thoroughly on a rack. Hamelman prescribes covering the cooled miche with baker's linen and delaying slicing for at least 12 hours. (I think I actually did forgo slicing it for 12 hours once. It is an excellent idea, but I am weak.)

Miche Crumb

Miche crumb close-up

The flavor of this bread, like Poilâne's Miche, definitely improves over 1 to 3 days. I personally like the flavor best the day after it was baked. Of course, the next day is also pretty terrific, and the next … Hamelman says that the bread gets more sour and the “wheat flavor intensifies” over several days. My experience has been that the sourness does increase. I would describe the change in flavor as “mellowing” rather than intensifying. I think that is the same as what Hamelman describes as “the flavors melding.”

This bread has excellent keeping quality. Kept in a bread bag or bread box, it is very enjoyable for a week. It also freezes well. I usually cut it in quarters to freeze, wrap each quarter in 2 layers of freezer wrap and place them in food-safe plastic freezer bags.

Enjoy!

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

This bread is fast becoming a favorite with us.



I won't have a crumb shot for these, because they are both marked for neighborhood dinner parties. Although I've not been disappointed in past bakes,I got more ovenspiring with these two loaves, baked individually, then ever before. The past three times I've baked this formula I've retarded the dough overnight. This time I scheduled the formula-ready levain to peak early in the morning, and proceeded from there to make the dough, autolyse, bulk ferment, shape, and proof. I proofed the left-hand loaf at room temperature, and retarded the final proof of the right hand loaf at 55*F. I did this only to bake the loaves individually. They are different weights (left:750g, right:1000g). I like to use a different temperature schedule for the each: 480*F for 10 mins. with steam for both; finish baking the smaller at 450*F, and the larger at 440*F. Both loaves had excellent oven spring, but the smaller, room temperature proofed loaf had the most.


David G


 


 

ein's picture

The Little Loaf That Could

June 5, 2009 - 12:40pm -- ein
Forums: 

Has anyone had a slip up like this that ended up ok?  I set out on the right foot yesterday converting my Liquid Levain into Stiff and building a little overnight preferment in preparation of making Jeffrey Hamelman's Pain au Levain. Step by thoughtful step ( I need to concentrate hard now being over 60 ) all seemed to be going well ... too well I guess since I was not paying full attention while loading the oven.

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My usual sourdough starter is semi-firm. I make it at a 1:3:4 ratio of starter to water to flour. Many of the sourdough bakers on TFL favor a 1:2:2 ratio, but fewer seem to use a true "liquid levain" which is more like 125% hydration. I was curious to try a pain au levain using a liquid starter and found the Pain au Campagne recipe in Leader's "Local Breads."


This recipe calls for a 50% hydration dough to which you add 62% (baker's percentage) liquid levain, ending up with a moderately tacky dough. The levain is added after the flour and water are mixed and allowed a 20 minute autolyse. The autolyse mixture is very, very stiff, and it takes a lot of mixing to get the very liquid levain incorporated into the dough. 


The resulting bread has a very nice flavor, but not significantly different from the pains de campagnes I make with my usual starter.


Of greater interest was the final shape of the loaves. They are formed as boules, and I proofed them in round, linen-lined wicker bannetons. I scored them with 3 parellel cuts, as Leader recommends. The loaves took an oblong form even before I could load them in the oven. This is a graphic illustration of the effect of this pattern of scoring on loaf shape, as described by Suas in "Advanced Bread and Pastry" and referenced in my Scoring Tutorial. (See the TFL Handbook.)


http://tfl.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/scoring




David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

SusanFNP of www.wildyeastblog.com fame posted a photo of her "Semolina bread with fennel, currants and pine nuts" on TFL in November, 2007. She provided a link to the recipe on her Wild Yeast blog. I immediately added this bread to my "to bake list." Well, my wife could tell you, I seldom throw out anything, and that includes my to do lists. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get around to a particular item, and today I got around to baking this bread.


Mine didn't turn out as pretty as Susan's, but this is a delicious bread. The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful - The contrasting sweet currents and savory fennel seeds and the soft crumb and chewy pine nuts and currents. Wonderful bread. 


This is snacking bread. I ate a couple slices while I was making dinner and could have finished the loaf right then and there. Yummy!




The recipe can be found at:


http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/11/06/semolina-fennel-currants-pine-nuts/


David

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

I've always liked the walnut raisin pain au levain Dan Leader sells at Bread Alone Bakery near me, and I've been wanting to try something like this for awhile and finally got around to it this week, but with cherries and pecans.


Both Susan's yeasted version on her Wild Yeast blog and SteveB's version on his Bread Cetera blog gave me a craving for cherry pecan bread when I saw their photos....thanks for the ideas you two, your baked goods are so mouthwatering and professional looking...(I am unworthy of breadblogging in the same sphere as you two!)


I made this as a sourdough-only version and mixed about 30% whole wheat and 2.5% rye with AP flour. This mix gave a nice dark-colored but light-textured open crumb that tasted good with the fruit and nuts. You could obviously substitue rasins and walnuts, or anything else you can think of. I find it especially tastes great sliced, toasted, and served with cream cheese, and lasts a long time.




I soaked the cherries for a bit too long as they were a little too mushy and a some color washed out, but the bread tasted great, I'll be making this again a lot I think. It was very easy.


Here are the loaves just before slashing and loading into the oven, after their overnight cold retarding:



Here's the formula:


Pecan Cherry Pain au Levain


Makes 2 large 2.5 lb batards or oblong loaves.


Levain Build


% flour of levaingrams
starter (100% hydration with WW flour) 32.1% 45
warm water 85.7% 120
All-Purpose flour 100.0% 140

Final Dough

% flour final doughgrams
All-Purpose flour 66.4% 750
100% whole wheat flour 31.0% 350
100% whole rye flour 2.7% 30
flour subtotal 100% 1130
 
warm water 69.5% 785
sea salt 2.0% 23
ripe levain 27.0% 305
dried pitted sour cherries, soaked   240
toasted pecans   240

1)  12 hours before making final dough, create the levain using some ripe starter that has been fed and doubled. Mix well and cover in bowl until levain has risen to over double but has not yet begun to collapse, aprox. 10-12 hours at 65-70F. Toast the pecans at 350F for 10-20 minutes and let cool, then coarsly chop and set aside. Soak dried sour cherries in water overnight and strain next morning before making final dough.

2)  When levain is ripe, create final dough by mixing warm water with levain to dissolve. Mix all flours and salt in large bowl until evenly distributed, then add watered levain to flour mix with dough whisk, spoon, or hands until well combined. Cover and let rest for 1 hour at @ 70F. Tip dough onto counter, knead in the cherries and pecans lightly, and french fold for approx. 10 minutes with short 1-2 minute rests as needed to scrape together dough or relax it, and tuck in the fruit/nuts. The cherries and pecans may fall out and it will be quite messy at first, but eventually the dough will come together into a neat lump after 5-6 minutes or so. At end of kneading, round out the dough so that fruit/nuts are tucked inside and good skin of dough is on outside. Place dough in lightly oiled container and cover to rest for 30 min. After 30 min., turn out dough onto lightly oiled counter to give it one good gentle stretch and letter fold, then place dough back into oiled covered container. Repeat one more stretch and fold after another 30 minutes, then let dough continue to rise until doubled at @ 70F (approx. 2 more hours).

3)  Shape dough into 2 batards, place batards in floured couche, cover well so loaves don't dry out, and let loaves cold proof overnight at 40-50F for approx. 8-10 hours. Next morning, place loaves in warmer area (65-70F) while oven preheats for 45 minutes to 450F. Bake loaves on oven stone with steam (I pour 1 cup hot water from tea kettle into pre-heated cast iron pan on oven floor) at 450F for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 400F for another 30-35 minutes until center registers 200-205F with instant read thermometer and crust is well-browned.

On a slightly different note: my last few batches of bread have been coming out smelling and tasting better than ever, I think it may just be this new flour I was able to pick up in a 50lb bag from Bread Alone Bakery down the road from me. It is an All-purpose flour from Canada with 11.5% protein, not sure about ash content. Anyone ever used or heard of this Oak AP flour before?I like it a lot. It handles nicely in dough.

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