First attempt: Pain au levain
Here's my first attempt at making Leader's Pain au levain. Caveats: This is only the 2nd bread I've baked and my first attempt using levain.
Pain au Levain: First sourdough
To me, the dough felt somewhat wet and needed 18 minutes of kneading before it would pass a window-pane test. After a few minutes of kneading, it felt sticky again and I felt compelled to flour my hands and scrape the board. The rise during fermentation was small, consistent with Leader's estimate of 25%. I Fermented for 1 hr, folded and then for another 3 hrs (76F-80F). At this point, I was out of time for the night and put the dough in the fridge for 6 hrs. I took it out first this this morning, let it warm for an hour and divided it. The dough still felt cool when dividing and shaping and proofed slowly in my kitchen (79F). Shaping looks easy on youtube, but I found it more difficult in practice. I'm not convinced that it doubled, even after 3 hours of proofing. A finger test suggested it was ready (or as good as it was going to get) so I slashed and put in the oven. This was my first time using an oven stone (a piece of 1/2 granite). My only complaint about the instructions are that it wasn't clear what size of a loaf I was making. I didn't realize they would be so small. It states the expected weight of the divided dough, but not the size of shaped and/or finished loaf. Mine finished out at 4'' w x 9'' l x 2.75'' h.
The apartment smells great but I haven't cut into them yet (still too warm). A few things to work on for next time: (1) The bottom of each loaf may have burned slightly, (2) I need to work on my shaping and slashing technique as they aren't the prettiest loaves I've seen, and (3) I think I might double the recipe next time and make two larger loaves.
Tips, comments, advice all greatly appreciated!