The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain de Compagne with a levain

varda's picture
varda

Pain de Compagne with a levain

I just made a recipe from Bernard Clayton's new complete bread book called Madame Doz Pain de Compagne.   It calls for a starter made with flour, yeast, buttermilk and vinegar.   That sits for twelve hours - then add whole wheat, wheat germ and white flour and water which sits for another six hours - the mixture is now called the levain.   Then make a dough with white flour and knead in the levain.   This made an amazingly tasty and robust bread - as good the second day as the first.   Since I'm a novice, I can't believe that I was able to make a bread like this, and I'm still pinching myself.   But inquiring minds want to know.   I have been making starter (as I was asking about earlier) from flour and water only.   Are the yeast and buttermiilk and vinegar in Clayton's recipe just there to hurry up the process, or do they impact the taste?   This bread is not at all sour, nor do I think it is supposed to be.    I saw in other messages that levain is just another name for starter, but Madame Doz seems to be as far away from sourdough as you can get.   Clayton doesn't teach principles, just recipes, but I am trying to extract some set of principles from this recipe.  I also used up all of the levain and wonder if I should have, since now I'll have to start from scratch the next time.   If I had saved some, I wouldn't have known how to refresh it to get the same result. 

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

Some of the forum's more experienced bakers might have more insight into your question, but here is my understanding of your confusion.


First, I have Clayton's book and have read the recipe and his introduction of the 99 year old Madame Doz.


He unfortunately uses the term "starter" as a precursor to the levain. Actually, it is a pate fermentee or "old dough" that she kept from a previous batch of dough. This old dough was fermented with yeast, not a sourdough starter. His method assumes you do not have a piece of old dough lying around from your last bake, so he shows you how to make one from a yeast based "starter". Bakers who bake on a regular, frequent basis often save a piece of fermented dough from each batch to leaven the next batch, but those of us who don't need a lavain on a regular basis can make one as needed using the method he describes.


A sourdough starter is made over time from wild yeast in the air and must be fed on a regular basis.


If you are looking for baking "principles" I suggest you check the book reviews on this site. They are spot on.


 


Michael


 


 

varda's picture
varda

So I guess what you are saying is that Clayton filled in the blanks for the home baker, and probably figured out as well as he could how to duplicate the "old dough" that Madame Doz used.   As a result it takes two days to make this bread, and I'm guessing that unless I plan to make it very frequently there is no point in trying to figure out how to make it from old dough myself.  The recipe in Clayton made two two pound loaves.   We are still eating them on the third day after baking, and they still taste great.   Thanks for your help!

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

as an afterthought, this method of making "old dough" is very common, and you will see the "old dough starter" referred to in various terms, often depending on the language and the amount of water used relative to the flour; pre ferment, pate fermentee, biga, poolish, etc.


 


Michael

varda's picture
varda

That's quite an afterthought.   It makes a lot of things clear.   If you have dozens of breads you like to make (and eat) then saving some old dough from each isn't really practical, whereas the people who made these recipes originally probably were more restricted in the variety of bread they made on a regular basis.   Very interesting.   It still would be cool to try a recipe or two with actual old dough, but maybe I'll get to that later.