The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

HansJoakim's Rye leavened Pain Au levain

Mebake's picture

HansJoakim's Rye leavened Pain Au levain

I have eyed Hansjoakim's post : here ever since he blogged about using his excess ripe rye as a leaven for a Pain au levain with Wholewheat from Hamelman. Hans has generously posted his recipe, and i, sickened from my failures with liquid white levain, and attracted by the description of the flavor, finally decided to try it yesterday.

I used Waitrose Organic Strong white bread flour for 80% of the white flour, and 20% all purpose - plain flour. Whole wheat was waitrose organic plain flour, and Rye was Doves Farm organic Rye.

Brushed the flour off:

The Ovenspring was substatial. Was it the Rye? or i was growing impatient with my dough at 11:45 pm? fermentation was faster with this Rye leavened bread. Though i would add 1 hour more to the bulk fermentation. Final fermentation was 2 hours.

The Bread was chewy due to the 12.9% protein flour. The flavor was superb, as described by Hans! Thank you Hans for the solid recipe, this is one new favorite of mine.






arlo's picture

Very nicely done Khalid. I'd say you fermented the dough in an excellent and timely manner. The crumb looks delicious.

So I may have missed the post, but did you give up and move to a rye flour starter now?

Mebake's picture

Thanks, Arlo.. Nope, i would never abandon the White starter.. every starter has its own virtues, but until i can reliably harness my liquid starter, i will stick to Rye, or stiff white levain.

sam's picture

Excellent loaf, Khalid!   Two thumbs up!   Awesome spring.

Mebake's picture

Thank you, Syd! It could have benefited from an hour or so more in bulk fermentation. The oven spring was due to incomplete bulk fermentation, i guess.



Syd's picture

Wow! Khalid, that is sure one way to come back from your starter woes.  That is a beauty.  I love it when they spring in the oven like that.  It shows such a vitality of starter and looks so abundant/bounteous.  Did you stick closely to the recipe?  I have to give this a go in the very near future.  Awesome. :)



(By the way, the message 2 above was from gvz not me)!

nicodvb's picture

of what a good flour can do in skilled hands like yours. The dough seems to have really swolled in the oven! Simply perfect.

varda's picture

Looks fantastic.   I missed hansjoakim's original post, so thanks for bringing it up.   -Varda

pmccool's picture

That is a very impressive loaf.


breadsong's picture

Hello Khalid,
What a happy sight to see those oven shots, and your gorgeous blooming loaf!
What a wonderful result!
from breadsong

ananda's picture

Hi Khalid,

It's good flour, developed into great dough.   There is no evidence of any break at any point on the crust, except for the impressive top cut.   The crumb is just about as even as you can get.

If you left it longer in bulk, then the rye sour would start to impact in quite a negative way on the dough structure.

I think it's a really impressive loaf.   Is there even a smidgen of baker's yeast in here?

Best wishes


GSnyde's picture

Must be a happy loaf to jump up so high!


sam's picture

Hey Mebake,

Obviously I am no expert, but maybe the fermentation was right and not needing any extra bulk-ferment time.   To my eyes, the last crumb picture shows a good amount of translucency to it, in the larger holes.   I think I have read that is a sign of proper fermentation ...   from others here.  (?).

I think it is a great bread.   I bet it tastes great!   

I also understand about being up all night....   :)     I am doing another bread tonight and it looks like it will be a late one.  :)



hansjoakim's picture

What a beautiful loaf you've baked! It looks perfect, and I'm very happy that you like the taste of it as well.

Doesn't get much better than this - keep it up!

Mebake's picture

Thank you, Syd! Yes i did stick to the recipe and procedures. Sorry for the Typo ;)

Thanks , gvz!

Thank you, Nico, that is so kind of you.

Thank you , Varda!

Thanks, Paul! So how are the croissants going?

Thank you breadsong. you inspired my to takes such shots in the first place!

Thank you , Andy! Its a genuine pleasure to receive props from you. You are right, the crumb structure shows complete fermentation, that any more would adversely effect the outcome. I guess  good steaming, and really hot stone :500F, a really active rye levain (refreshed rye starter 3 times), and a hasty final proofing, all lead to the oven spring i witnessed.

No, there was no bakers yeast in the dough. I wanted to stay true to Hans recipe. I will reduce strong flour percentage next time i bake this , as i don't like my crumb and crust to be really chewy.

Thank you, Glenn! I was happier :P

Thank you gvz. I guess you are right.

Thank you again, Hans! Your recipes, and procedures are so simple and straight forward. I love the simplicity of your recipes, and the artistry and elegance of your bakes. Pls. continue blogging about your home bakes.


jyslouey's picture

has inspired me to do a test with my raisin yeast water.  I had difficulty kneading (by hand) a rye dough when I first started bread baking and  have only used this in small amts since then.   However, after reading your post, I'm inclined to test this and build a levain of yw & rye, and  add to the main dough of regular WW and BF.  I will follow  your recipe to see if I can produce something edible although I don't expect to be able to produce a loaf as beautiful as yours.  Can you pls let me know how long did you bake at 500F?   My gas oven can go only go as high as 250C...:(  Thanks,   I'll  be back...  - Judy

rossnroller's picture

Especially love that crumb shot. Great stuff, Khalid!

Best of baking to you!

teketeke's picture

  That is a very nice loaf, Khalid!  Thank you for all the pictures of your loave's process you took. That is fantastic!

Happy baking,




Mebake's picture

Thanks, judy! I always preheat My oven to 500F or 260c and reduce the temperature to 230c or 450F as soon as i load the loaf. It is essential to preheat the oven sufficiently, in order to get the stone to be at 500F. I use fan assisted preheating which preheats faster in 40 minutes. I find 40 minutes of preheating is the least you can do to get your stone to the desired heat, which is very very essential to the oven spring.

Thank you, Ross!

Thank you Akiko!

jyslouey's picture

That's exactly what I've been doing for my recent yeast water boules,  I pre-heat oven to 250C  with baking stone  as well as loaf pan with stones  in oven (I find this method very effective) which takes approx half an hr (I'd hate to see my gas bill!) and temp. drops somewhat after I've loaded the loaf and poured the boiling water.  I'm glad you mentioned the fan as I'm never sure whether to use fan or not.  I find that with my oven, it takes  much longer to reach the desired temp when I use the fan,  I notice that it will only reach 230+ if the fan is on but maybe I just didn't wait long enough.   There's so many recipes  I want to try but weather is getting to be too warm to sit in front of the oven and watch the dough rise.  Happy baking, I'm glad the weekend is near, we  have a holiday on Monday which will give me more time to bake. - Judy

highmtnpam's picture

Beautiful loaf!  As soon as my rye starter is stronger I am going to try this Pain au Levain. Frankly, I never thought of adding rye sour to anything but rye bread.  My brain is spinning.


Mebake's picture

Hi, Judy.

I don

I happen to have a fan with a heating element coil. I don't know about gas oven fans, but i suppose you are right, it may take longer to preheat with a fan , if your oven has vents, which i'am sure all gas ovens do. Just preheat with out a fan, for at least half an hour.

Thank you, pam! I, too, was skeptic of the idea of using a Rye sour to leaven a mostly white dough, but it turnes out that an active, frequently fed sourdough Rye starter, will leaven all sorts of breads, save for some sweet breads that is.


jyslouey's picture

I dozed off for more than 20 mins while waiting for the oven to heat up and when I woke up the kitchen was in full heat and the oven was blazing hot,  my dough had become a huge batard! I don't have sourdough starter but I used my yeast water to make a 110 grm multi-build rye levain.  My bread is nothing like yours but it's the biggest batard I've ever produced to date.  - Judy

Daisy_A's picture

Hi Khalid,

That is one mighty bake! Such great dough development and beautiful golden crust colour. You obviously have a talent for using rye as a levain.

Best wishes, Daisy

Mebake's picture

Good, judy! show us the batard.

Thanks, Daisy. do you require a talent to be able to use a rye levain? maybe..

Daisy_A's picture

Hi Khalid,

I would say you do. Rye leaven can easily accelerate and become over sour or over developed. The great result shows the loaf was developed with skill, I think :-)  Daisy. 

jyslouey's picture

I guess I cannot hope to produce the crust that you have achieved.  - Judy