The Fresh Loaf

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pain au levain

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Time to catch up a bit from the Christmas whirl.  Last weekend, I baked Leader's pain au levain again, from his Local Breads.  I keep coming back to this bread, because of it's lovely flavor.  It is only mildly sour and the rye and whole wheat components add to the depth of flavor.  Since temperatures in my kitchen were hovering in the 63-65F range, it also benefitted from a long, slow fermentation.  Here is a picture of the finished loaves:


Leader's pain au levain


The slashing suffered from a lack of mental mise en place.  I'l have to pay better attention to that in future.


Here's a shot of the crumb:


Crumb of pain au levain


The crumb is great for sandwiches and for holding spreads, but a bit fine-grained for this style of bread.  I'm still working to get all of the factors done right in a single loaf.  This one has great flavor.  I thought it had ample hydration, but it could probably have been pushed a bit higher.  And my handling during shaping was a bit ham-fisted.  One of these days . . .


The second bread on the agenda last weekend was Reinhart's New York Deli Rye, from BBA.  No complaints about the bread itself; it is a moist, flavorful (I substituted dill seed for caraway seed), sturdy bread and makes wonderful sandwiches.  The only quibble, which is purely cosmetic, is the blotchiness on the crust caused by the oiled plastic wrap that I draped over the pans to keep the dough from drying during it's final proof, as seen here:


Reinhart's NY deli rye


And, since I was on a sourdough kick and had company coming, I also made the sourdough English muffins from the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  I never got around to snapping a picture of those.  They turned out very well.  I think I finally got the right combination of hydrations, time to rise, and griddle temperature.  They ballooned up to more than an inch in thickness, without trying to turn into spheres.  There are plenty of nooks and crannies for trapping melting butter or juicy jams.  They are so moist that they require a second pass through the toaster to brown up enough.


Sometimes it is hard to decide which is better: the enjoyment of making bread, or the enjoyment of eating it.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

My wife recently picked up a copy of Leader's Local Breads, and I am part way through reading it.  I needed to bake this weekend, so thought that I would try a formula from the book.  Based on what I had available, I opted for the Pain au Levain, using my existing sourdough starter to prepare the levain for the formula.  I also chose to add sunflower seeds to the bread, following one of Mr. Leader's options.

It was enjoyable to work with a mostly-white bread dough again.  Much of my recent baking has been predominantly whole-grain breads (not counting RLB's focaccia that factored out at 113% hydration!), which tend to have somewhat heavier and stickier doughs.  This formula calls for small quantities of both whole wheat and rye flours, but they are fairly low percentages of the total flour content.

Here's the finished bread:

Pain au Levain batards 

And a shot of the crumb:

Pain au Levain crumb 

As you can see, there was plenty of oven-spring.  The dough was a little bit short of being completely proofed.  I may have been able to let it proof a little longer than I did, but I'm happy with the outcome.  The flavor is surprisingly (to me) mild; the wheat flavor comes through cleanly, along with the nutty sweetness of the sunflower seeds.  The last couple of sourdoughs that I have made had a high whole wheat content and a pronounced sourdough tang.  Other conditions were essentially the same, so it appears that the flour has an influence on the degree of sourness.

This is a very enjoyable bread.  I hope that others in the book are equally good.

Paul 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Janedo's Basic Bread


Janedo's Basic Bread


Janedo's Basic Bread Crumb


Janedo's Basic Bread Crumb


This is my third attempt at making the pain au levain that Jane calls her "basic bread." I think it's the best crust which is crunchier than my previous bakes. The crumb is less open than I got on my first attempt even though the dough was more slack. I think I actually over-mixed it.

Jane's recipe is posted here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6992/janedo039s-quotbasic-breadquot

For this bake, I used a liquid levain fed with a high extraction flour mixed with 140 gms of white spelt flour and 400 gms of King Arthur Europian Artisan-style Flour.

I baked at 500F with steam for 7 minutes then 460F for a total of 30 minutes. I left the loaf in the turned off oven for an additional 7 minutes before cooling on a rack.

The taste is good with moderate sourness. It is very chewy. The crust is staying crunchy.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Janedo's basic bread

Janedo's basic bread

Janedo's basic bread - Crumb

Janedo's basic bread - Crumb

This is the second time I have baked Janedo's Pain au Levain (Sourdough) recipe for what she calls her "basic bread." Since I cannot truly duplicate the flours she uses in France, I am liberated to experiement using different combinations and proportions of American flours.

 The first time, I used a combination of King Arthur First Clear Flour and Guisto's White Spelt flour. This time, I fed my starter with KA Organic Whole Wheat Flour and used KA Bread Flour in the dough. The Ingredients were:

160 gms Starter
307 gms water
540 gms KA Bread Flour
10 gms Salt 

 The dough seems just very slightly less hydrated than my last attempt. As you can see, the crumb was denser, as expected. It was very chewy. The crust was a bit crunchier and less chewy than the First Clear/Spelt version.

 Overall, the taste was less sour this time, and the whole wheat flavor was less apparent than I expected. This was a bread that would be an excellent sandwich foundation, but it was not my "target" bread. I think the combination of flours was too strong.

 So, what flour combination should I try next? KA Artisan Flour with a little spelt? Or a little whole wheat? Or Golden Buffalo and spelt? Hmmmm....

David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Janedo's "basic bread"


Janedo's "basic bread"


Janedo's basic bread crumb


Janedo's basic bread crumb

Jane ("Janedo") is an American expatriot who has lived in France for 15 years with her husband and children. She has a wonderful blog about her sourdough baking ( http://www.aulevain.canalblog.com/ ) with a loyal and enthusiastic following. We have been fortunate to have her participation on TFL, and there have been some rather interesting discussions of differences in taste preferences in France versus the U.S., the frustrations of exchanging recipes when the ingredients we use, particularly the flours, are not comparable and other topics.

 Currently, Jane is, I think it's fair to say, struggling to like San Francisco style sourdough bread made from Peter Reinhart's formula in "Crust and Crumb." Of course, we cannot know exactly what she is baking, since we cannot duplicate it with the flours we have. Nor can she know what my baking from this formula produces with King Arthur Bread Flour and Guisto's whole rye flour.

Jane has shared the recipe for what she calls her "basic bread." She says this is the bread her family prefers (and asks her to return to whenever she inflicts San Francisco-style sourdough on them). This was my first attempt to duplicate Jane's bread. She uses a combination of T65 and white spelt flour. I don't have access to T65. I debated as to how I might best approximate it. I'm not at all sure I made the best decision, but the recipe and procedure I used, adapted from Jane's recipe, follows:

Ingredients

150 gms active liquid starter (fed with high extraction flour, 100gms flour to 130 gms of water))
315 ml water

400 gms First Clear flour
140 gms White Spelt flour
7 gms Sea Salt.

Procedure

I mixed the starter and 300 ml water then added the flours and salt. I mixed in a KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle for 1.5 minutes at Speed 1, then with the dough hook at Speed 2.  After the first minute, the dough cleaned the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl. This seemed too dry, so I added 1 T (15 ml) water at this point, resulting in the dough still cleaning the sides but sticking to the bottom of the mixer bowl.

The dough made a "window pane" after 9.5 minutes mixing with the dough hook. It was quite tacky. If I pressed on it for a couple of seconds, it was sticky, but with brief contact it did not stick to my (lightly floured) hands. The dough kept its form easily without spreading but was very extensible.

(I am describing the dough in such detail because the differences in flours we use result in such different doughs at the same hydration. I think the behavior of the dough and its feel will give another person better guidance, if they want to reproduce this bread. For that matter, it gives me more guidance if I want to change it next time.)

I put the dough on a lightly floured Silpat mat and, after a brief rest, stretched and folded it a couple of times, then placed the dough in a lightly oiled glass 2 liter measuring cup with a cover to ferment.

The dough doubled in volume in 7 hours. I scraped it onto the Silpat, rounded it gently and let it rest for 15 minutes. I then shaped a boule and placed it, smooth side down, in a linen-lined wicker banneton. I lightly floured the surface of the dough and enclosed the banneton in a plastic bag.

The boule was allowed to expand to 1 1/2 times the original volume (1.75 hours) then transfered to a peel and slid onto a baking stone in a pre-heated 450F oven. 1 cup of boiling water was poured into a pre-heated cast iron skillit, the oven door was closed and the oven was turned down to 410F. After 5 minutes, I removed the skillit and continued to bake for 35 minutes. (The internal temperature of the loaf was 205F after 30 minutes, but I wanted the crust a bit darker and to be sure this large loaf was well-baked.) I then turned off the oven but left the loaf in the oven for another 5 minutes.

The crust was qute hard when the boule came out of the oven, but it softened considerably as the loaf cooled.

Eating

The crust was somewhat crunchy, but more chewy. The crumb had a lovely, tender, slightly chewy texture. I could not identify a distinctive flavor I could attribute to the spelt flour (which I had never used before). I thought I should add a little more salt next time - maybe 10 gms rather than 7 gms. The sourness in the bread hit on the 5th chew and became progressively more apparent. I would regard this as a moderately sour sourdough, certainly more sour than the pains au levains I have made from Hamelman or Leader's recipes.

With all levain breads, the flavors seem to fully develop and become better integrated on the second or third day after baking. So, stay tuned.

David

MissyErin's picture
MissyErin

main pain 3

 

Hello Everyone, and happy Tuesday!

I was in Cancun over the weekend and brought with me a few bread books to read, and was really hyped to get back into the kitchen as soon as I could.  It only (only! ha!) took two hours to get through customs and immigration.  Woe to regular international travelers! 

I decided to make the Pain au Levain (with flax seeds) out of Daniel Leader's Local Breads, and I also made a sourdough off of Susanfnp's blog (wildyeastblog.com) which is the one I've been messing around with lately. 

When I got home I refreshed my 100% starter (and is now actually a 100% - not the 170% that I was stupidly keeping it at, and barely rising!  Weight, not volume, silly!) and mixed up the 50% starter that I would need for the pain au levain.  Both rose quickly and beautiful placed on a heating pad on medium in my chilly kitchen (~65F) overnight.  I mixed up both batters this morning, and let them both ferment at room temp for about 4.5 hours while I was out.  This is where I really deviated from Daniel Leader's recipe... I didn't turn the bread until I got home, and then shaped the loaves about 15 minutes later.  Then I let them sit at room temp for about another 3 hours, slashed and baked at the prescribed temp, with steam in a baking sheet rather than a cast iron skillet (I have one that has been passed down and don't feel like rusting that one out, and I haven't yet been by the store to grab a fresh one).  

main pain

My makeshift couche!  Water bottles instead of kitchen towels... laundry had yet to be done!  :) 

 

 

pain 2

Wanted to practice my slashes... they look decent here but the straight line one just ballooned up!  

main pain 4

Yummy!!! 

 

main pain 5

 Looooving the crumb! And the texture was out of this world! 

main pain 7

main pain 8

I'm infatuated with the crumb!  The crust was really nice too.  I'm not sure that the flavor of it is my all time favorite, I think I'm just not used to the flavor of that much flax seed.  I use ground flax seed in the "broom bread" that I make from PR's WGB and that's only 1/3 cup... the flavor was much more pronounced.  My husband said that this was his favorite bread yet.  *pat on back*  I think I'll play around with a Kamut Pain au Levain next, of course after I try the Pierre Nury's Rye that I've been dreaming about since Zolablue had me mesmerized.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

 

Then I upped the oven heat to 475 for the sourdough.  It also had a 4.5hr room temp ferment, then folded, and then shaped about 15 min later.  Sat again at room temp for about 2 hours then into the fridge to retard for about 5 hours.  Went straight from fridge to slash to oven. 

The recipe I used was this:

(from Susanfnp's wildyeastblog.com, *verbatim*)

Norwich Sourdough
(adapted from Vermont Sourdough in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman)

Yield: 2 kg (four or five small, or two large, loaves) ---- I did only one loaf.

Time:

    Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
    First fermentation: 2.5 hours
    Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
    Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
    Bake: 35 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F 

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
  2. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 3 or 4 minutes. 
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
  5. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes. 
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces. I usually make four 400g loaves and refrigerate the rest to use for pizza dough later. Preshape the dough pieces into light balls.
  7. Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
  9. Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2 – 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now. 
  11. Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.
  12. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, if you can manage it!

 

sd 1

sd 2

 

I thought this had a nice crust to it... I'm still trying to get that "ledge"!  I really think I need to get a lame. 

 

sd 3

Sorry for the sideways picture!  I tried messing with it, but there isn't a way to resize this pic on this computer (these were all taken with camera phone)

See... this crumb looks great above... but below its not open at all. 

sd 4

 

*Much* happier with Pain au Levain than the sourdough today as far as appearance, but ***very*** happy with the taste of both.  

Can anyone give me some suggestions as to why the sourdough starts out with a nice (moderately) open crumb and then turns into more of a sandwich bread crumb? 

Also, has anyone else that has made a *primarily* flax loaf felt like it had a bit of an "unfamiliar" taste?  Maybe its just me... It was great, just different than what I was expecting.

~Melissa in Atlanta 

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