Pain Au Levain
In "between times" I've been slowly improving a version of Pain Au Levain ala Poilane. Quite a journey considering where it began several years ago and is due in no small part to this site and the persistent bakers who populate it. Thanks to you all!
Below is a photo of the latest triumph. Rough formulation consists of 3/8 firm starter, organic flour with diastatic malt, sea salt, and water. The mixed dough was refrigerated overnight to develop the flours innate flavor (retarded). I changed the method by which the loaves were formed after refrigeration in that the dough was not "punched down" but gently formed into loaves instead (thanks to Mark at the Back Home Bakery on the forming method). It made a significant difference in both dough and subsequent proofing volumes. Baking was performed on parchement on an oven stone and under cover (interior of cover spritzed with water) for the first 17 minutes at an entry temperature of 500 dF lowered to 450 dF after door close. At the end of the "steam period" both cover and parchment were removed and the bread allowed to bake for an additional 19 minutes (@ 450 dF convection mode on). The loaves were then removed to a cooling rack followed by an atemperation period overnight in the microwave.
Early on there were two area that I somehow misjudged the importance of:
1.) Understanding the look and feel of the dough (and all its implications) not to mention taste (and the way it changes over process)
2.) How important the forming process is to achieving good oven spring and loaf shape not to mention good looking "ears"...