The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman's Pain Au Levain

Mebake's picture

Hamelman's Pain Au Levain

This wasn't my first Pain Au levain, but surely the best of the bunch. I have baked Vermont Sourdough with increased wholewheat, and Pain Au levain with Mixed Sourdough starters...Those were not successful as i was struggling with ways to please my starter.. But i loved this one! No wonder why so many TFL members bake it frequently.

I increased hydration to 75%. I did not retard the dough, it has a lovely faint sourness. I forgot to autolyze too. I stratched and Folded in the bowl 5 times during bulk fermentation (2.5 hours). Final fermentation was almost 4 hours! This is what happens when your flour is not malted from factory.

The Doughs spread flat in the oven.. but with the help of a 500F stone and plenty of steam, they balooned and came to life..

This is by far the best sourdough i have ever had to date. Crackly crust, soft chewy crumb, and an intoxicating aroma..!!



cranbo's picture

crumb looks really good, and so does the rest.  Great job Khalid!

Mebake's picture

Thanks, Cranbo! Soudough can be really good, or really horrible.. It depends how you tend your starter..

Syd's picture

Knock my socks off, Khalid!  I can just hear the knife cutting through that crisp crust.  Beautiful!  Excellent crumb and oven spring.  Everything came together on that bake.  And I agree with you:  so much depends on how you tend your starter.


AnnaInMD's picture

Great, great job !


Mebake's picture

Thanks, Syd.. So kind of you.. I wonder what the result would have been if i did the autolyse..

Thank you, Anna! you should see the slack wet doughs resisting to be removed from their brotforms, and laying flat in the Oven.. you'd call it a lost cause.. but i've done my homework.. and they fully rose in the oven!

MadAboutB8's picture

Beautiful creamy crumb and crust. I can almost hear it sings with those crackling crusts. It must smell sensational too, I can almost feel it.

Wonderful job..


Mebake's picture

Thank you, Sue!

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...the food porn police are on their way.  Those loaves rock!


ehanner's picture

Nice job Khalid! The batard looks bulbous:>)


teketeke's picture

I really like the crumb that looks luscious!  Your starter must be super healthy!! Great job,Khalid!!

Best wishes,


ananda's picture

This is wonderful bread Khalid....and from a dedicated wholewheat baker too!


SylviaH's picture

It all came to together just beautiful!


Franko's picture

Outstanding as usual Khalid! I'm not sure it's possible to make bread that looks any better than these two excellent loaves of yours. Great baking!


jcking's picture

I'll be over in 5 Minutes and bring a stick of butter. Some of my best loaves were ones that didn't go exactly as planned. Like the time the bread was ready and I forgot to preheat the oven. Live and bake and learn. Really nice loaves.


Mebake's picture

Hehe... Thanks for the comment FF!

Thank you Eric, I'll sure be baking this recipe again..

Thanks Akiko! Yes my starter was elaborated three times with exact flour mixture the recipe calls for. It really does help revv up the starter!

Thanks, Andy..! Iam an amateur painter.. and i adore all arts. Baking is an art that captures my attention, and inspires me. When i see Dmsnyder's, Ehanner's, Yours, Txfarmer's, Shaio Ping's , and all the other TFL members bakes, i wonder at the beautiful results, results that transform white powder into a crusty golden piece of Art... Even if i sacrifice some wholegrain content...

Thank you Sylvia! Your bakes of Northwest Sourdough was inspiring too.

Thank you Franko... Patience is a virtue.. I was about to bake them 2.5 hours into final fermentation.. but they were not ready.. so i waited, and it paid off.

Thank you Jim! If you could make it to Dubai in a nuclear supersonic machine, my loaves are waiting..

R.cubebaker's picture

     Bread looks great and so does the crumb. Nice work!



Mebake's picture

Thank you Hajime!

GSnyde's picture

Beautiful loaves.  The crumb looks perfect.


M2's picture

Very nice!

Are the two loaves from one recipe?  Or did you multiply the recipe?  They are pretty good sizes bread :)

I always stare into the oven to make sure the bread rises (as if it will help with the rising...).  It must be exciting to see the loaves changed from pancake to balloon.  Joy!


Mebake's picture

Thank you Glenn!

Thanks, Michelle! Those were from the recipe. They are indeed larger than i anticipated, very light!

rayel's picture

Khalid, they look like the real thing. I have seen loaves from a local bakery with sophisticated equipment, and your breads would fit right in. Really nice. Ray

Mebake's picture

Thank you so much, Ray..! That is truely heartwarming.

I can't stress enough the significance of Stretch and fold in the bowl technique in having a perfect ovenspring. The dough was wobbly, and flat when they were loaded, and they rose like pita breads in 10 minutes!