The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Country Champlain comparison

leslieruf's picture

Country Champlain comparison

I wanted to compare the effect of using bran in the levain vs whole flour.  So on Wednesday morning I weighed out a little more spelt and rye berries than I needed (allowing for slight loss during milling) for each levain build then milled them.  I did this a little differently than usual.

I set the Mockmill on 4-5 and milled the first batch.  I sifted this through my kitchen sieve, kept this separate then remilled the remainder on the fine setting 1-2 and sieved this again, adding this bran to the previous bit.   The flour felt a little smoother. 

I repeated this for the second batch but only gave this the first sieving - there was actually very little left in the sieve.

10 am refreshed starter 5 gm starter + 5 gm water + 5 gm flour - standard refresh ex refrigerator

2 pm added 30 g water + 30 flour - again as usual.  Room temperature was 22 deg C

10 pm made the first build of the levain which was then left on the bench overnight.

Bread #1 - 10 gm refreshed starter + 10 gm water + 7 gm bran (all I had) + 3 gm double sifted flour

Bread # 2 - 10 gm refreshed starter + 10 gm water + 10 gm bread flour


2nd levain builds at 7 am room temperature 19  deg C - a bit cool, where has my sunshine gone?!!

Bread #1 15 gm from evening build + 15 gm water + 15 gm double sieved flour

Bread # 2 15 gm from evening build + 15 g water + 15 gm bread flour

This was left on bench to hopefully mature.  My formula for both loaves as follows

Freshly milled spelt 38 gm 

Freshly milled rye 19 gm

This was milled together so  bread #1 double sieved, bread #2 minimal sieving

Bread flour 98 gm + 4 gm gluten flour

Water 114 gm

Salt 3.12 gm

levain 24 gm

12:20 pm mixed the ingredients for bread #1 to shaggy dough then left to autolyse 

12:30 pm mixed the ingredients for bread #2 to shaggy dough then left to autolyse

13:45 pm Add salt and bran levain for #1, dimple in, 30 stretch and folds followed by 5 minutes Rubaud method.

14:05 pm Bread #1 5 minutes mixing Rubaud method but using left hand - its hard work!

14:45 pm Bread #1 stretch & folds * 20 

15:15 pm Stretch & folds * 10

15:45 pm stretch and folds * 8

Repeated all steps exactly for bread #2 (standard levain), just 10 minutes later, so here is #2 after Rubaud mixing

16:45 both breads given stretch & folds * 7 and repeated at 17:30 pm and 18:30 pm.

20:00 pm Bread # 1 preshaped

20:30 pm Bread #1 final shaping then placed on floured cloth in small bowl in refrigerator overnight.

The dough was not wildly poofy but seemed to get more so as it progressed and you can see small air bubbles here.  I don't think I did a very good job of shaping.  The dough was pretty soft but still sticky and I tried hard not to degass.  I oiled the bench and hands for preshaping but chickened out and floured the bench for final shaping. 

Bread #2 preshaped - 

I felt this was a bit softer so only left it 20 minutes before final shaping and refrigerating overnight. It went a little better than #1 did-- I didn't oil the bench this time though, just flour.

Friday 7 am Removed both loaves from fridge, unmoulded onto parchment, slashed loaves (1 slash #1, 2 slashes #2) baked both at same time in different DOs 15 minutes lid on at 250 deg C and 15 mins lid off at 230 deg C

Lunchtime we couldn't resist.

Crumb #1 bran levain

We've had visitors so didn't cut bread #2 until today. Crumb shot standard build levain

I think the bran levain has actually delivered a better crumb although I am not sure if there was a great deal of difference in height i.e volume after the bake.  I still need to get more tension/strength in final shaping.  The 1 slash vs 2 may have had an impact too. 

I had hoped for less spread and more height, so I will try again .. just one loaf but a bit bigger this time.  and I will try to make a batard fingers crossed.  There was definitely some improvement this time.






not.a.crumb.left's picture

Hi Leslie,

You've been busy!  Your crumb looks very good and lacy......I am intrigued that you use the Rubaud method on the Champlain loaf and I think Dan does too but must re-read on this. I find that the dough would be too stiff to do this in my case. Maybe to do with room temperature in my kitchen (64Fish when I start adding leaven).


leslieruf's picture

but remember this is not Trevor’s Champlain, rather his Country champlain or tartine style bread which has higher hydration and I think higher % spelt and rye.  maybe I should try the Champlain bread again too and see the difference in dough handling.


not.a.crumb.left's picture


Thank you for clarifying... Kat

Danni3ll3's picture

on both loaves but from what I can see, the first one has a more lacy crumb. I guess that Dab's method does enhance Trevor's procedure! Well done!

leslieruf's picture

thanks Danni.  Amazing isn’t it that such a small thing could have such an influence.  Will definitely try this next bake.


PalwithnoovenP's picture

The height is starting to increase with less spreading. I'd say a huge improvement from the last time. You're really on your way to success that matches your standards.

leslieruf's picture

small steps, but yes. loved your last bake and the breads you achieve with your baking equipment, just amazing.


DanAyo's picture

Hey Leslie,

Really! Your crumb couldn’t be better. Unless you were baking for artistic purposes, I see no room for improvement. It’s absolutely beautiful.

I love the images of Trevor’s crumb. And you, Kat, and I want to produce that. BUT; how would you eat something like that? I guess you could stuff olives in the holes and then make a sandwich, BUT...? LOL

That bread is gorgeous! Gorgeous, I say.

Man! I’ll be able to say “I knew her when...” Hehehe

Hey, the blisters on the crust ain’t half bad either {;-)


Is the absolute only difference between the 2 loaves the bran Levain? Can you think of anything that might have been different? If conclusive, the bran Levain is  extraordinary! Great Idea. IMO, there is a decisive difference in the 2 crumbs.

leslieruf's picture

I want to be able to get less spreading... and have it stick less to me and everything else!! lol

Yes, I made sure I handled them exactly the same. #2 took a touch longer on bulk ferment though.

thanks Dan


Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

On both breads. To me they both look perfect. There is a slightly different structure with the bran one. It looks more lacy to use Danni's description. I think Dabrownman also does it for flavour if I remember correctly. Wonderful bakes, both of them. Don't talk to me about scoring Lol. I'm sure this hinders the oven spring in my breads. Oh and about tension... I used to mess around with the dough too much after putting it in the banneton. Altering it thinking it's not sitting properly due to poor shaping and pressing it down etc. This just compromises the dough and the tension. Now I just plonk and go. Getting better results. So incase you're doing the same thing as me just thought I'd point that out. Might seem minor but it is effective.