Pain au Levain
Lately I've been having inconsistencies with the Levain I bake. Sometimes the cell structure is too tight and the taste too acidic, sometimes I get a tight crumb with no acidity whatsoever, indicating a lack of micro-organism activity, and sometimes, I get a beautiful open crumb and just a hint of acidity, which is my ideal pain au levain. This week, I baked my levain (which is always 80% AP, 10% WW, and 10% Rye), with 12% Prefermented flour and using a stiff levain 84-16 (AP:WW) instead of a liquid 50-50 to generate the fermentation.
Total Formula: AP 400g, WW 50g, Whole Rye 50g, Water 395g (79%), Salt 10g.
- Levain: 50g AP, 34g Water, 12g Seed (Liquid), 1g Salt. Mine ripened in 16 hours @ 72F or so.
- Autolyze: Mixed remaining flour and water less 25g. DDT 78F, mine read 77 after mixing. Let stand 1 hour.
- Mixing: Add remaining water and salt. Pinch together, then do slap and fold until tighter.
- Bulk: Mine was 4.5 hours, with 4 folds or so every 30 minutes.
- Preshaping; Shaping: I used Chad Robertson's shaping techniques to get a batard shape (see:http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27143/chad-robertson-masterclass-video)
- Proofing: Mine was about 2.5-3 hours @ 76F or so.
- Baking: 480F with Sylvia's Steam first 15 minutes or so, then another 30 minutes to finish.
The bread's flavor was very close to my ideal: Sweet, with a hint of acidity, mostly lactic, and a memorable aftertaste. The cell strucutre was open on most of the batard, though not as amazing as what, say, PiPs does. The bread was probably a little underproofed, judging by a couple of minor blowouts that occured on the loaf's size.