The Fresh Loaf

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Pain au Levain with Praline Rose

Shiao-Ping's picture

Pain au Levain with Praline Rose

It all started with this picture when I dropped my son at his mate's house for tennis and saw these colors:   


                                                             The pink bougainvillea next to their front door against

                                                                      a flowering jacaranda in the background

A few days later a girl friend invited me to have tea in the park just round the corner from her place, under the flowering jacarandas.   

           Symphony jacarandas:


           First movement


                                          Second movement


                                                                           Third movement, and


                                                                                                      Fourth movement 

And this was the bread that I made for our tea: 



                 Pain au Levain with Praline Rose 


My Formula

  • 350 g starter @ 75% hydration
  • 310 g bread flour
  • 40 g medium rye flour
  • 262 g water * see note below
  • 183 g Praline Rose (pink caramelized almonds), 1/3 of the weight of total flours
  • 11 g salt
  • Extra rice flour and medium rye flour for dusting

Total dough weight 1.15 kg and dough hydration 75% (*Note: I did 75% hydration but in truth the hydration of the final dough felt much higher because of the sugar dissolved from Praline Rose which I over-looked.   70% hydration, or 235 grams of water, would have been plenty.  Because of the wet dough, extra stretch of folds became necessary to build up dough strength.)




  1. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except salt and Praline Rose until just combined
  2. Autolyse 30 minutes
  3. Stretch and folds in the bowl 100 times (I tried to build up some dough strength before the nuts go in), then
  4. Fold in salt and Praline Rose by way of S & F's 100 times again
  5. Bulk fermentation 2 hours with 2 sets of S & F's of 80 - 100 times each at 45 minutes and 90 minutes (see Note above)
  6. Divide into two pieces and pre-shape to rounds (or leave as whole), rest for 15 minutes, then shape to boules and place in a flour dusted banneton
  7. Proof 1/2 hour then into fridge for overnight retarding (I did 18 hours)
  8. Next morning bake with steam at 240C / 460F for 10 minutes and another 30 minutes at 210C / 410F (It was a mistake to bake at such high heat.  I completely over-looked that there was a lot of sugar in Praline Rose.  I did see that it browned very quickly in the first 10 minutes of baking and turned down the heat to 210C but had not realized at that point that the dough would burn anyway because of the sugar level.  The oven temperature should not have been more than 200 C for the whole duration of baking.)





                                                I truly burned this bread but the crumb was lovely and open.


This was one of the best sourdoughs I have made, despite the charcoaled crust.  The crumb is very chewy and mildly sour.  I don't taste much sweetness from the sugar, very little in fact.  I am very confused as to why this bread does not taste sweet.  If my memory serves me right, the pre-crushed Praline Rose I've got has only 20% almonds, which means at 183 g of Praline Rose, there was 146 grams of sugar, about 1/4 of the flour weight!!   Then, why doesn't this levain bread taste sweet?!  In fact, I don't think I've ever had a sweet sourdough, not even the chocolate sourdough I made.   Is that why they say sourdoughs are NOT fattening?!  Hog heaven?!





rainwater's picture

Maybe the sourdough culture eats up the sugars in the additions????????

I wouldn't begin to know, but the bread is very nice.

Shiao-Ping's picture

I love your comment about "flour is for baking and wine is for drinking..."

A friend did comment to me about sourdough culture comsuming all the sugar and therefore sourdough is less fattening than yeasted breads.  Who knows.  We don't eat that much to make such a big difference anyway.

SylviaH's picture

Beautiful and creative bread for afternoon tea!  I bet the crunch of the almonds is delicious! would be a shame to cut the crust off.. but I can just picture lovely dainty pink tea sandwiches! 


Shiao-Ping's picture

... the dainty pink tea sandwiches!!  I love it.  Thank you.

yozzause's picture

Hi Siao-Ping

you have done it agin, beautifull photography and beautiful bread.i bet you are invited out all the time when you bring along goodies like that.

When i used to belong to an avicultural club the ladies would bring along a wonderfull array of goodies for afternoon tea. Can you imagine the afternoon tea if we could organise a TFL meeting.

Not only would you get an invite i think you would be our guest speaker

regards Yozza

Shiao-Ping's picture

Are Perth people all gentlemen like you?  Thank you.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Stunning!  The rich brown crust gives no indication of the suprise within.  Must have blown your socks off as you opened the loaf, at all the color!  Wow!  

That loaf is an epitome of springtime!


Shiao-Ping's picture

wouldn't you know! 

Sweet 'n' sourdough, yeah, but more sour than sweet.

 "Epitome of springtime?"  Oh, how I envy people who have autumn around the corner.

Thank you.


TeaIV's picture

Oh. My. God.

there are no words in my mouth to describe my amazement. I need to get some of those almonds asap. anyone know where to get them?

superb as usual!



P.S. if the yeast culture consumed all the sugar, it would have produced a lot more acid, right? maybe it then only consumed a part of the sugar, and the rest was offset by the strong acid it produced? just brainstorming.



Shiao-Ping's picture

I got them from the magic baker's store, G. Detou in Paris from Chocolate and Zucchini website:

Those I've got are pre-crushed almonds, sugar-coated with pink food coloring.  They also come in whole almonds.   

Thank you. p.s.  I am really no good  on the technical/chemistry aspect of the sugar and acid in sourdough, so I can't answer your question.  But I think I made a small error when I was calculating the sugar content of the praline rose that I used.  They are 20% almonds, but it doesn't mean sugar is 80% (on which I based my calculation in the post).  There should be some starchy thing to bind the sugar and the pink coloring to the almonds, so maybe sugar is less than 50% (in which case sugar is only about 15% of total flour).


TeaIV's picture

oops, double-post