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.
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.