The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain au vin, or, winebaking III, & thanks to Yozza & Shiao-Ping

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Pain au vin, or, winebaking III, & thanks to Yozza & Shiao-Ping

Maybe it's more of a pain au je ne sais quoi...

After seeing Shiao-Ping's post, "Pain au levain with wine," ( and Yozza's wine bread with sesame ( - and simply the sight of their absolutely gorgeous breads, I had no choice but to try it again!  Yozza had excellent recommendations, and Shiao-Ping seemed to have a resounding success with her sourdough starter;Yozza's seemed excellent, as did hers...   Unfortunately, I have never really liked sourdough, so on her recommendation of an alternate starter I tried a slightly different formula...  

Admittedly, I'm an amateur - this was simply improv on my part, probably foolhardy.  Here goes:

I've had great luck with the technique I first learned in Rose's Bread Bible - the method of letting a sponge rise beneath a flour mixture - so going off of some elements of Yozza's bread and Shiao-Ping's sourdough, I tried a variation, though in a smaller loaf.  


80 g flour

110 ml warm water

1 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp yeast

Flour mixture, well mixed: 

120 g flour

4 g salt

1/2 tsp yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

And: 20 ml semi-sweet red wine (12.5 %), allowed to "breathe" at room temperature for 2 hours.  

(With the proportion of wine to water, I was trying to imitate Yozza's ratios.)  

In a midsize bowl, I mixed the starter until smooth and soupy, then sprinkled about half of the flour mixture on top and allowed it to ferment for approximately 2 hours, until the starter bubbled through the flour.  

At this time, I measured the wine and set it aside (I wanted to achieve the wine taste, but worried about the potential problems it might cause with the yeast, so I thought that perhaps letting it "breathe" at room temperature during the rising time would balance it out).  

After 2 hours, I began to mix by hand the rest of the flour mixture.  Then, I slowly added the wine.  It made for a very sticky dough, but very elastic and similar to what I have had in a semolina torpedo, with lots of gluten strands.  But there was no purple tone to be seen, and I wished I'd begun with more wine... So with the recklessness of a beginner I mixed about 25 g of flour with a further splash of wine into a paste, and gently kneaded this into the dough.

I allowed the dough to rise on its own at about 70 degrees F, until a depression in the dough rose back on its own.  Then, I softly stretched the dough, like I have with ciabatta, and shaped it into a rectangular loaf.  It was quite sticky, but manageable.  Here's the shaped loaf:

I let it rise for about an hour, while preheating the oven to 230 degrees C (all we have on our oven).  Then, after dusting it with flour, I popped it in on the lowest rack

, with steam.  After ten minutes, I removed the steam and reduced the temperature to 205.  After ten more minutes, the loaf had browned nicely on top, and the thermometer read an internal temperature of 208 F.  

The result:

And taste verdict: not at all bitter, as I had found my previous wine boule!  Not art, exactly, but enjoyable.  The crumb:

Chewy, though it had only a few of the iconic ciabatta holes.  But not nearly enough salt!  The wine taste didn't come through at all, so I am thinking that for the next experiment I'll substitute far more of the hydration with the wine, and adhere far more to the stretching process of some sort of ciabatta-type bread.  Any thoughts, suggestions, advice?  Thanks to Shiao-Ping, Yozza, and everybody!

(p.s. If anybody is interested or bored, there's more pictures of our continuing stages of winemaking on my blog: