The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Pain au Levain Compromise

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wassisname's picture

The Pain au Levain Compromise

 This loaf is my grudging acceptance of the fact that everything can't always be about me - not even bread.  My daughter goes weak in the knees at the sight of square, squishy supermarket white bread.  The stuff gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.  I won't buy it, not even for her.  But, instead of digging in my heels and inspiring a whole-grain backlash I decided to expand my horizons a bit. 

I settled on the pain au levain from Leader's Local Breads.  This is the first time I've used white flour in my bread so I was a little outside my comfort zone.  Fortunately, the recipe is spot-on, and I got a nice loaf on the first try.  I added an overnight proof for timing's sake and made one larger loaf instead of the two smaller loaves that the recipe calls for, but otherwise I went by the book. 

And my daughter likes it.  Whew!  Of course, this means I have to save some for her... I'm not sure I have that much will-power.



AnnaInMD's picture

awsome job !

wassisname's picture

A little luck and a great recipe go a long way!

pmccool's picture

she might not even notice if the next one was 95% white and 5% white WW.  After a couple rounds of that, you might be able to bump it to 90%/10% and so on.  Eventually, she may find herself enjoying something that is good for her!

Lovely bread, by the way.


wassisname's picture

This recipe actually has a fair amount of whole grain in it.  I don't know much about French naming conventions, so maybe this isn't a typical formula, but it features a blend of WW and a little rye that makes up about 1/3 (I don't have the recipe in front of me) of the flour weight.  Pretty good for such an airy bread.

BerniePiel's picture

That is a wonderful looking loaf and your comments spur me to go back to Leader's book.  Of late, I've been captivated by Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread which contains some WW flour in his basic loaf but I think could be bumped as Paul indicated at the end of his comment.  I have a question, do you cook directly on a stone or do you use a closed container, e.g. dutch oven, clouche, covered pot?  Many thanks for sharing this beauty.

Bernie Piel

wassisname's picture

I baked it right on the stone.  Used the "magic bowl" with a little extra water flicked on the inside to steam.

One new thing that may or may not have helped:  I put my main stone one spot up from the bottom of my oven and usually leave my round pizza stone on the bottom rack just below it.  This time, after I removed the "magic bowl", I pulled the bottom rack with pizza stone and moved it to the top slot.  Having stones above and below seemed to improve the crust.  I'll have to try it again and see.  I would keep the second stone at the top from the beginning, but then I don't have quite enough vertical clearance to safely get the bowl over the bread.