The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Multigrain Pain au Levain, a la Franko

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Multigrain Pain au Levain, a la Franko

We recently enjoyed a marvelous cruise from Vancouver (didn't get the opportunity to say hi to Floyd) up through the Inside Passage of Alaska.  We had port calls at Ketchikan, Juneau (emphasis on the 'eau', with 320 days of rain a year), and Skagway.  From there we sailed to Glacier Bay and spent a day marveling at the immensity and beauty of several glaciers.  Then it was on to our debarkation at Seward.  From Seward, we opted for the train excursion to Anchorage, then another train excursion to Denali, then a coach excursion to Fairbanks, and our flight home.  I will exercise massive self control and limit myself to one photo (of the more than 500 taken) that shows Denali on a clear day:

Since getting home, I've been futzing about with a couple of bread recipes, working the kinks out of them so that I can teach a class in September.  Trips and classes are nice events but work, and lunches, continue on.  In my case, that means bread for sandwiches.  

It's been a while since I've made a pain au levain, which remains one of my favorite breads.  This time I wanted something a bit grainier, so I went searching through the TFL archives, certain that someone would have posted something that fit the bill.  Sure enough, there was a post from Franko with just the type of bread I was looking for.  Even better, Franko included a link to the spreadsheet he had created for the bread which allowed me to scale it down for a single 750g loaf, just perfect for a chunky batard.

Having refreshed my lonesome starter, I set up the levain and the soaker on Friday night.  Knowing that I had some substantial yard work to do on Saturday, I was up early to mix the dough and let it autolyse while I fixed breakfast.  This marked my first departure from Franko's formula: I included the soaker as part of the autolyse rather than waiting to knead it in after the salt.  The Bob's Red Mill multigrain mix that I had was the texture of a coarse meal, so I wasn't concerned about larger flakes or other bits disappearing into the dough, rather than remaining identifiable.

After breakfast, I gave the dough a short knead to incorporate the salt, shaped it into a ball, placed it in the bowl, and covered it.  Then I headed out to deal with the crabgrass and dandelions and other weeds that seemed to have invaded while we were away.  After about 45 minutes, I came back in, washed thoroughly, then gave the dough its first stretch and fold.  Then it was back outdoors to continue the fray.  Forty-five minutes later, give or take a few minutes, back in again to wash up, then another stretch and fold.  Roughly 45 minutes later, I was back in to check on the dough.  Because of the warmth of my kitchen at this time of year, about 78F, the dough was moving along nicely and I judged it ready to shape.

At this point, Franko put the shaped dough in the refrigerator for a cold retard.  I elected to leave it out at room temperature so that I could bake it the same day.  And that was a good call because it made a delicious, if unorthodox, base for patty melt sandwiches just now.

The bake was exactly per Franko's timetable and temperatures.  I suppose it could have stayed in a little longer to put on some darker color but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it as is.  For once I caught the fermentation at just the right time, giving plenty of oven-spring while baking, a lovely ear, and a moderately open crumb.  

The loaf:

And the crumb:

The flavor, because of the shorter room-temperature final fermentation, is full bodied grain with only a hint of sourness.  The crust, which initially was quite hard, has softened to a very chewy texture.  The crumb is firm, moist, and cool, with a pleasing resistance when chewed.

Thank you, Franko, for sharing such a delightful bread.

The yard?  Well, the weeding is about half done.  I'll finish that next weekend when my quadriceps have stopped screaming at me.

Paul

Comments

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I couldn't agree more. We did the same trip in May but only as far as Anchorage.  and that train trip was amazing.  

lovely looking bread 

Leslie

pmccool's picture
pmccool

While we were at the Margerie Glacier, a lady next to me remarked "I just can't stop taking pictures!"  Later on, during the excursion from Anchorage to Denali, my wife "I still haven't seen an ugly mountain."  It's really quite challenging to take in, especially the vastness.  Pictures help when trying to describe things but even they cannot convey the scale. 

If you do have the opportunity to take the rail trip from Anchorage to Denali someday, take advantage of it.  I can't say that it is better, since both are spectacular.  It's another dose of awesomeness.

Paul

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

A handsome loaf crust and crumb! Tasty for sure!

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I could do the "Aw, shucks, tweren't nothin'" thing but the reality is that I'm really happy with how it turned out.  And yes, it is tasty.

Paul

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

ever been.  A perfectly still lake surrounded by a dark green conifer forest, with a huge snow capped mountain range in the distance reflecting off the water....Nothing like it.  The fishing and hunting is amazing as well.   The trip sounds great. 

Your bread turns out El Perfecto too.  A tasty beautiful multi grain bread is tough to beat.  Well done.  I hate Mondays in the summer since it is yard day.  If you aren't done by 9 AM you are going to die. The perfect excuse to start at 8 AM:-) An hour a well is all I'm willing to spend on it!

Happy baking Paul

pmccool's picture
pmccool

that almost exactly matches what you describe, dab.  We were there purely as flatlander tourists, so no fishing or hunting this time.  I am so glad that we made the trip and that we were blessed with some outstanding weather.  According to the guides, we are part of the "20 percenters" who actually got to see Denali in the sun, rather than it being socked in.

Thank you for your compliments. 

I made one last foray into the yard after lunch and it convinced me that I was done for the day.

Paul

Skibum's picture
Skibum

That is one FINE looking loaf AND a clear view of Denali also fine looking!

Happy baking! Ski

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I haven't tried tasting the mountain but I can say that the loaf tastes as good as it looks.

Paul

embth's picture
embth

I have been to Alaska a several times but have only seen Denali once.  Long time residents will excitedly announce that "The mountain is out!" when Denali is visible.  You were very lucky to have such a clear day.   Your bread baking class will be a great success, I am sure.  Happy Baking!  Embth

pmccool's picture
pmccool

that it had been two weeks since he had seen Denali, so we felt very fortunate to have seen it in the clear both days we were there.  The next day's forecast called for rain in the area.

Thank you,

Paul

isand66's picture
isand66

Very jealous Paul....what a fantastic trip you must have had.  Hopefully one day I will get there myself with the wife.

Your bread looks perfect and I'm sure it made a tasty patty melt!

Ian

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Do schedule a trip that gives you and the missus some time in Alaska, Ian.  It's very much worth the effort.

Thank you for your compliments.

Paul

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

My husband and I flew with our bicycles into Anchorage the first week of June. We cycled to Denali and then out to Wonder Lake camping the whole way. We then took the bus back to Riley campground after two nights out at Wonder Lake and then took the train to Anchorage and on to Seward. We cycled there also for 5 days and then train back to Anchorage and flew home. We had great weather and the mountain was out for days and days and days !  Unprecedented...thus the melting of the glaciers at an ever increasing rate and the 5 million acres of AK that was on fire until the rains started in earnest this week. We spent 3 weeks in AK but had shortened our trip from the original 8 weeks due to the fires along the previously planned route . We didn't dare breath in the smoke:( We had an amazing time and met SO many wonderful people and saw so many fantastic sights. Glad you were able to get there too Paul and sounds like you had a terrific trip . We are still on the road and have spent a couple weeks cycling 700 miles around  the Great Lakes. Will be home again tomorrow...finally !  Love your breads and hope your classes are once again as successful as they have been in the past. c