The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The french classic: pain au levain from local breads

jefklak's picture

The french classic: pain au levain from local breads


One picture says more than a thousand words, right? 
Today I've practiced making bâtards using Mr. Leader's "pain au levain" from local breads. Compared to Mr. Hamelman's classic "pain au levain", this one contains a lot more wholewheat (26%, compared to 5%) and the preferment amount is also increased (25% compared to 15%). A stiff levain was used with 50% hydratation. The final dough contained 70% hydratation. 

You can gaze at more nice pictures at:

I discovered the joy of using a proper amount of steam injected into the oven, since my other scores always seemed to close. Today, I bought a compressed mister which uses air to create a wider angle of water and makes it easier to create some steam in a conventional oven. I've also uploaded a picture of the new "baking device", see link above.

Did like this version a lot and I'll try it again sometime soon. It created a remarkably authentic crumb structure which looks like the "pain de campagne" loaves I've bought from some bakeries. The increased wholewheat flour was not a problem - it's finely stone-ground and I french folded for about 5 minutes. What Leader calls "turning the dough" looked too complicated, I did a single stretch & fold instead. The result is the same. 

Can anyone spot the yeasted version of the bâtard? 
I also made 2 straight versions which took me 4 hours in total. The result was a bland tasting loaf but the crumb was amazingly great for a yeasted bread - moist and nice mouth feel. As you can see, it's also very holey (thank you mister & high water percentage!). It contained about 40% wholewheat flour and no rye, so it's a bit less heavy, it was not exactly the same recipe.

I might have cheated though, as I added 2 tablespoons of the preferment to the yeasted version. It did not get enough time to develop some flavor and it's nowhere near the 25% preferment of the pain au levain version.