Pain au Levain, with sunflower seeds
My wife recently picked up a copy of Leader's Local Breads, and I am part way through reading it. I needed to bake this weekend, so thought that I would try a formula from the book. Based on what I had available, I opted for the Pain au Levain, using my existing sourdough starter to prepare the levain for the formula. I also chose to add sunflower seeds to the bread, following one of Mr. Leader's options.
It was enjoyable to work with a mostly-white bread dough again. Much of my recent baking has been predominantly whole-grain breads (not counting RLB's focaccia that factored out at 113% hydration!), which tend to have somewhat heavier and stickier doughs. This formula calls for small quantities of both whole wheat and rye flours, but they are fairly low percentages of the total flour content.
Here's the finished bread:
And a shot of the crumb:
As you can see, there was plenty of oven-spring. The dough was a little bit short of being completely proofed. I may have been able to let it proof a little longer than I did, but I'm happy with the outcome. The flavor is surprisingly (to me) mild; the wheat flavor comes through cleanly, along with the nutty sweetness of the sunflower seeds. The last couple of sourdoughs that I have made had a high whole wheat content and a pronounced sourdough tang. Other conditions were essentially the same, so it appears that the flour has an influence on the degree of sourness.
This is a very enjoyable bread. I hope that others in the book are equally good.