Pain au levain with flax seeds and my 5th sourdough attempt!
Hello Everyone, and happy Tuesday!
I was in Cancun over the weekend and brought with me a few bread books to read, and was really hyped to get back into the kitchen as soon as I could. It only (only! ha!) took two hours to get through customs and immigration. Woe to regular international travelers!
I decided to make the Pain au Levain (with flax seeds) out of Daniel Leader's Local Breads, and I also made a sourdough off of Susanfnp's blog (wildyeastblog.com) which is the one I've been messing around with lately.
When I got home I refreshed my 100% starter (and is now actually a 100% - not the 170% that I was stupidly keeping it at, and barely rising! Weight, not volume, silly!) and mixed up the 50% starter that I would need for the pain au levain. Both rose quickly and beautiful placed on a heating pad on medium in my chilly kitchen (~65F) overnight. I mixed up both batters this morning, and let them both ferment at room temp for about 4.5 hours while I was out. This is where I really deviated from Daniel Leader's recipe... I didn't turn the bread until I got home, and then shaped the loaves about 15 minutes later. Then I let them sit at room temp for about another 3 hours, slashed and baked at the prescribed temp, with steam in a baking sheet rather than a cast iron skillet (I have one that has been passed down and don't feel like rusting that one out, and I haven't yet been by the store to grab a fresh one).
My makeshift couche! Water bottles instead of kitchen towels... laundry had yet to be done! :)
Wanted to practice my slashes... they look decent here but the straight line one just ballooned up!
Looooving the crumb! And the texture was out of this world!
I'm infatuated with the crumb! The crust was really nice too. I'm not sure that the flavor of it is my all time favorite, I think I'm just not used to the flavor of that much flax seed. I use ground flax seed in the "broom bread" that I make from PR's WGB and that's only 1/3 cup... the flavor was much more pronounced. My husband said that this was his favorite bread yet. *pat on back* I think I'll play around with a Kamut Pain au Levain next, of course after I try the Pierre Nury's Rye that I've been dreaming about since Zolablue had me mesmerized.
Then I upped the oven heat to 475 for the sourdough. It also had a 4.5hr room temp ferment, then folded, and then shaped about 15 min later. Sat again at room temp for about 2 hours then into the fridge to retard for about 5 hours. Went straight from fridge to slash to oven.
The recipe I used was this:
(from Susanfnp's wildyeastblog.com, *verbatim*)
Yield: 2 kg (four or five small, or two large, loaves) ---- I did only one loaf.
- Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
First fermentation: 2.5 hours
Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
Bake: 35 minutes
- 900 g white flour (I used Heartland Mills unbleached malted all-purpose )
120 g whole rye flour (I used KAF pumpernickel )
600 g water at about 74F 
360 g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
23 g salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
- Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 3 or 4 minutes. 
- Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
- Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes. 
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces. I usually make four 400g loaves and refrigerate the rest to use for pizza dough later. Preshape the dough pieces into light balls.
- Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
- Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2 – 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now. 
- Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.
- Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, if you can manage it!
I thought this had a nice crust to it... I'm still trying to get that "ledge"! I really think I need to get a lame.
Sorry for the sideways picture! I tried messing with it, but there isn't a way to resize this pic on this computer (these were all taken with camera phone)
See... this crumb looks great above... but below its not open at all.
*Much* happier with Pain au Levain than the sourdough today as far as appearance, but ***very*** happy with the taste of both.
Can anyone give me some suggestions as to why the sourdough starts out with a nice (moderately) open crumb and then turns into more of a sandwich bread crumb?
Also, has anyone else that has made a *primarily* flax loaf felt like it had a bit of an "unfamiliar" taste? Maybe its just me... It was great, just different than what I was expecting.
~Melissa in Atlanta