The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Today's Bake: DiMuzio's Pain au Levain (firm starter)

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Today's Bake: DiMuzio's Pain au Levain (firm starter)

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


 


 

Comments

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Your neighbours should be thrilled - those are gorgeous loaves.


:-Paul

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Would you mind sharing your recipe.  I'm new to this site and I love baking bread and finding new recipes.  Your loaves look awesome!!


 


Linda

davidg618's picture
davidg618

...it's not mine to share, Linda. This formula comes from Daniel T. DiMuzio's new book,"bread baking, An Artisan's Perspective". and, of course, it's copyrighted. 


However, there are a number of similar formula available here on TFL, as well as a rich store of techniques, "Do-it" videos, and advice. The dough for this formula uses a small amount of whole wheat flour, with white bread flour. I am sure you can find something similar using the search function.


David G


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Wiley has the copyright to anything that was actually published in the book.


With that having been said, the list of ingredients isn't very unique.  (90% bread flour, 10% whole wheat, probably 67-68% hydration, and 2.2% salt). 25 to 30% pre-fermented flour in the firm levain, which is hydrated at 60%.  About a 3 hour bulk ferment, with 2 to 3 hours of final proofing (covered) at room temperature after shaping.


Learning to do good bread is less about what recipe you use than it is the procedure you follow in mixing, fermenting, and baking, as well as recognizing when the standard procedures need to be changed (this will eventually happen).  Bakers like DavidG, Sylvia, Pamela and Pablo keep making me look good, but it is the judgement they've acquired from frequent baking that makes them good bakers.


--Dan DiMuzio

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Thank you Dan.  I do understand that baking good bread is not really about the recipe.  I bake a lot of bread and just didn't know if there was a certain type of flour you use.  I've heard about the Guisto flours but have never tried them.  I always use King Arthur flours.  I know some starters use rye and some use whole wheat and I wasn't sure what yours was.  Thank you and I'll keep on baking!


Linda

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I usually use King Arthur's so-called "All Purpose" flour for my standard bread flour.  According to their flour guy (Todd Bramble), the retail branded "AP" is the exact same flour as the "Sir Galahad" that they market to commercial accounts.  I've used Sir Galahad for years to do baguettes, sourdough, and Italian varieties because it has a nice combination of strength and extensibility.


Their retail-branded "Bread Flour" is the same as the "Special" brand they sell to commercial accounts, and, while it is good quality flour, it's a bit too strong for hearth breads if you're trying to emulate a European model.  I'm not saying you can't use it, but rather that if you have a choice, the KA AP will give you a dough that isn't difficult to extend, loaves that aren't too chewy when you eat them, and will still give you good volume.


--Dan DiMuzio

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Everything I've read until now has stressed using "bread" flour, often with explanations (justifications?) based on protein content and ash. I've reached a point where I'm very comfortable with the starter I use, its maintenance, how I prepare it to be formula-ready, and the consistency I'm getting making your Pain au Levain. I've baked two more loaves since this post, and shaped them in batards since that's yet another shape I've not prepared often. Those results were also consistent.


Now with your flour information, and my present comfort level my next bake I'll use KA AP flour, and have another comparison point. Thanks.


David G

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

David,


I've seen your bread and it looks great.  If you're just curious and want to try a different flour, go ahead, but if you're well satisfied with what you have, I wouldn't tell you to do anything differently.


What bread flour are you using now?


--Dan

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Dan,


I have been baking everything with King Arthur Bread Flour since I started this quest about 3-4 months ago. I'm just curious, that's why I'm going to try it, but I suspect we'll stick with what I'm doing now, afterwords. We shall see...


 


David G

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Hi Dan,


I had no idea that King Arthur AP flour was better to use in artisan breads.  I've always used their bread flour.  I have a 25 lb bag of the AP so I'll be baking a lot of bread!  Thanks so much for all your help.  This is a fantastic website!


Have a great day!


Linda

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Linda,


I want to be clear in saying that, while I and some others would recommend trying the King Arthur AP for hearth breads, their "Bread" flour would work, too.


Some of us use the KA AP (and its twin Sir Galahad), or a different brand that might be like it, because it is milled from "hard winter wheat", grown in places like Kansas.  Typically, this type of wheat produces proteins at a more moderate level (11-12%), and the gluten-forming proteins seem to exhibit greater extensibility and good tolerance to long fermentation, while still providing good strength.  It isn't the same as French type 55 or Italian "00", but people like Professor Raymond Calvel recommended it for use in North American versions of the baguette or other French breads.


KA's "Bread" flour is milled from "hard spring wheat", typically grown in places like Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana.   It generally has a higher protein level (12.5-13%) and its gluten-forming proteins tend to exhibit less extensibility.  While it is a super-strong flour, and that can sometimes be a benefit in breadmaking, it can give you issues with poor extensibility with baguettes or other long loaves.  It makes bread that is decidedly chewier than with typical hard winter wheat, and the crust it produces is sometimes leathery instead of crisp.


If this is all acceptable to you, there is no reason to be concerned, but by using spring wheat you would actually be moving away from any European ideal of what makes good flour.  Since many bakers here are trying to explore different European perspectives on bread making (Italian, French, German, Polish, etc.) it could be useful for them to know that hard winter wheat is about as close as we can get here in North America to the wheat used in European countries.


Most millers of retail-packaged flour in 5# bags don't tell you anything specific about the wheat classifications used for their flour.  King Arthur does, and that's why I usually stick with them.


Expect that if you start using a lower-protein flour, you won't need to use as much water to get the same consistency in the dough.  Hold back maybe 5% or more of the total water in the formula and add it in gradually only if it seems you need it, and then write down how much total water you used for the dough.  This way you won't have to keep re-discovering what hydration seems to work.


--Dan DiMuzio

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Dan,


Thank you for all your wonderful information.  It makes a lot of sense to me.  I do love to bake a lot of the Austrian/German type breads.  My husband is Austrian and I am Czech so those are the breads we tend to love.  I have used the Italian flour that King Arthur sells and found it to be very good but only in making bagettes.  Having lived in Vermont for many years, I got used to KA flour and would be reluctant to use any other type of flour.  However, I've heard the Guisto is suppose to be good but have never tried it. 


Linda

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Linda,


I have also heard very good things about Giusto's flours.  I haven't used them recently enough to give you meaningful feedback on their performance.  I have used Cook's, and found it to be consistently good (http://www.cooknaturally.com/history/history.html).


Since you live in Vermont, perhaps you've visited Norwich and seen King Arthur's Baker's Store?  If you passing through, you should take an hour or so and check it out.


You may already have your own set of family recipes, but even if you do I would still recommend checking out Jeffrey Hamelman's book if you haven't already.  He has worked extensively with German bakers (as well as French and Irish), and his repertoire of Eastern European bread varieties (many types of rye) is well represented in his book.  Better yet, your relative proximity to Norwich compared to most of us flatlanders puts you in a good position to attend one of his classes in bread baking.  Jeffrey is simply one of the best teachers and bread experts I've ever seen.


--Dan DiMuzio

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Hi Dan,


Thank you for the website.  I'll check it out.  I've ordered your book and Jeffrey Hamelman's book from Amazon so I look forward to reading both of them!  We no longer live in Vermont but have been to the King Arthur store.  It's fantastic and I would highly recommend going there if you are ever in Vermont.  Actually, we're going back in the fall to visit so we might go back to KA again.  I would definitely take one of Jeffrey's classes if we still lived there.  We were considered flatlanders too.  If you're not born there, you're a flatlander but that's okay because the natives are great people and Vermont is a wonderful place to live. 


Linda

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Thank you David.  I have many good bread books so I'm sure I have something very similar.


 


Linda

davidg618's picture
davidg618

If you want to do the formula for the bread shown, I think Dan has given you enough information that you can reproduce it. I use KA flours almost exclusinvely. Those shown are made with KA Bread flour, and KA whole wheat.  The crumb is chewy. We like that in a lean dough bread, but I use KA AP in sweet doughs, except Brioche. Welcome to the site. I've found it great, in general; and Dan's advice, shared knowledge, and guideance extraordinary.


David G

lkarner's picture
lkarner

Hello David,


As I told Dan, I had no idea that the King Arthur AP flour was better to use in the artisan breads.  I have a 25 lb bag of it so will certainly be baking lots of breads.  I've always used their bread flour.  Will be interesting to see the difference.


Linda