The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

VII - Our Current Favourite : Are We There Yet? .....Almost!....maybe....

lumos's picture

VII - Our Current Favourite : Are We There Yet? .....Almost!....maybe....


The original formula of this bread was based, at first, on Pain de Lodeve, a French levain bread which became very popular in Japan some years ago among both professional bakers and amateur home bakers; so popular someone even held an one-day “Pain de Lodeve Appreciation Society” to which fans of this bread flocked to a famous bakery to admire the bread, watching pros baking loaves of it and devouring them together afterwards. (Have you ever heard of Japanese tendency for extremism?)  It is…or the Japanese interpretation of this bread is made with levain and mostly white flour with, often, small amount of rye flour and has very high hydration of at least 80-85%, occasionally even more. And because of this hydration, the crumb is very moist with lots of large holes……


Above two pictures are Pain de Lodeve a la Japone, made by the most reputed baker of this bread in Japan.…..which could be a bit different from its original version in the mother country…..

 The origin of Pain de Lodeve and how it looks like….in France

Google translation of the text : "In honor of St. Fulcran, Bishop of Lodève that this bread was created.
It was first called bread bench because he had been forgotten at the bottom of a bench!
is a bread Rustic enriched sourdough bread for a very convoluted. Note: the bench is a kind of rye straw basket used to set the bread in shape. benchtop Bread is a bread with white flour sourdough. The dough rises slowly mass in the ancient vaults in large baskets, called benches, hence its name. before cooking is cut with a large blade pieces of the dough in the mass, they are shaped to floured hands and put in the oven. The bread is a bread bench much honeycomb sandwich to creamy and crunchy crust. Lodève The bakers have developed a strong reputation for the manufacture of bread. It is said that this bread is special LODEVE due to water entering its composition."  (It’s not my fault this text is weird! Blame Google!! :p)


….oh well…..


Anyhoo…..I found a recipe for this bread in a book I bought a few years ago, baked it and quite like it. But I wanted to make an ‘alternative Lodeve,’ too, with more ‘normal’ hydration, so that 1) I could proof it in a bannetton (which is IMPOSSIBLE with that wet dough), 2) the crumb would be not as moist. So I’ve been tweaking the formula here and there and reached to this present formula quite recently.


As I mentioned in my earlier blog,  I’ve been trying to re-create a beautiful Pain de Campagne we had in Dijon many years ago on holiday. Interesting thing is, this multitude of tweaking on Pain de Lodeve formula over the years unexpectedly led me to a formula which produced rather acceptable imitation of Pain de Campagne of Dijon. It’s not completely there yet, but quite close….


Pain de .... “Suburb of Dijon” (=almost there!)


S/D 125g (75% hydration)  - Fed with 50% WW and 50% Strong flour

Strong flour  200g

Plain flour  60g

Rye flour  30g

Spelt flour  10g

Wheatgerm  1 1/2tbs

Water (filtered or bottled) 220~230g .....or 240-250g, if you dare.

Instant dry yeast (optional)  0.2g  optional (Note- Nov. 2012: Been making this without added yeast for a while now since my sourdough starter is much stronger and more realiable than when this entry was original posted. )

Good quality sea salt  6g



  1. Feed the starter twice during 8-10hr period before you use it. (total flour for feeding = WW 36g + White Strong 36g = 72g, water 54g. I usually use 22g mixed WW+White flour and 17g water for the first feed and the rest for the second feed.)
  2.  When S/D is peaked, mix it with the water in a small bowl and stir to loosen a little.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the flours and wheatgerm, add S/D+water. Mix to a shaggy mess and autolyse for 40 minutes.
  4. After autolyse, sprinkle dry yeast, if using, and S & F in the bowl for 8-10 strokes, turning the bowl. Rest for 40-45 minutes.
  5. Repeat two more S & F at 40-45 minutes interval.
  6. Cover the bowl and cold retard for 12-16 hrs in the fridge.
  7. When you see a few large bubbles on the surface of the dough, take the dough out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  8. Pre-shape → rest for 15-20 minutes → shape, and proof in a banetton for 3-4 hrs.
  9. Pre-heat the oven @ 240C with a lidded casserole/pyrex/cast iron pan in it.
  10. Check the dough with finger-poke test, and when it’s realdy, turn it out on a piece of baking parchment and score.
  11. Place the dough in the heated casserole, load it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  12. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and lower the temperature to 200-210C (or 220C, if you want bold-bake….like me at the moment)
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes.




best wishes,




ananda's picture

Hi lumos,

The authentic French bread just seems to have been given extreme bulk proof and no final proof, if I read the badly translated Google text correctly.   The crumb is compacted, but soft and chewy....almost like the affect achieved using a "boil-up".

The Japanese version looks inspired...although it must be more akin to ciabatta than to the authentic French bread being mimicked?

Your own practical take on the bread looks like a great loaf.

All good wishes


lumos's picture

Thank you, Andy.

Yeah, it looks like ciabatta in that picture, but the texture and flavour is quite different. Lodeve is gutsier with more 'chews' than ciabatta, and also it has a sour note due to use of levain and rye flour. Also it has much thicker and robust crust than ciabatta because of bold bake for a long time.  I chose those pictures because I mentioned about him, but his Lodeve is particularly famous for the very open crumb. Not every Lodeve is like that, there're many versions of 'interpretation' of Pain de Lodeve, as things are. For example, like these…..

Lodeve by another baker

 And another

And one more

….and this is Lodeve from the book I based my formula on.


As for the authentic Lodeve, probably I wasn’t too fair to people in Lodeve for choosing that photo, but that page was the only one I could find both with photo and detailed explanation about the origin of the bread. Better version looks more like this…..


….and also, according to many French sites, it seems you’re more likely to see ‘Le Pain de Lodeve’ shaped into ‘tournee’ like these (also called ‘pain de paillase’ or twisted bread) in the town of Lodeve,

 ….rather than just baked as one big BLOB like above.

Wiki (French) description of this bread FYI…..with ever-entertaining Google translation:p


best wishes,



breadsong's picture

Hello lumos - That looks like really tasty formula with spelt, rye and wheatgerm!
So glad you're close to making the bread you remember. I'm still trying to re-create my father-in-law's favorite bread from a holiday a few years ago - getting closer, too!
Thanks for posting the crumb shot from the Japanese Pain de Lodeve - wow, that's really something!
:^) from breadsong

lumos's picture

Thanks, breadsong for your kind word, as always. :)

Yeah, I thought you might like that kind of crumb, my fellow hole-lover. :p  But it's not only how it looks, it is really good tasting bread and the texture is quite unique as you can imagine from the high hydration. 

Look forward to congratulating you for the revival of your father-in-law's bread some day!



Mebake's picture

Lovely, Lumos! I agree with Andy, yours looks more like the authentic one.

lumos's picture

Thank you, Mebake! :)

When I was writing this entry, I thought you might enjoy the original version of this bread I found in the book, because it's SO moist, it's really nice bread to have in warm climate. If you're interested, I can PM it to you.

best wishes,



varda's picture

Interesting post.  I love the pictures of the Japanese loaves.   I don't know that I've ever seen a crumb like that.   Beautiful to look at, at least.   And of course quite different from the French loaves that inspired it.   Yours look very nice.   How is this similar/different from the faux Poilane you posted about recently?  -Varda

lumos's picture

Thanks, Varda.

Yes, the crumb of Lodeve (or at least the Japanese version of it) is quite unique, especially the texture with its moistness and 'bites.'

This tweaked version of mine is lighter and gentler than faux-Poilane in all the aspects; the colour, texture and flavour. (the crumb colour of faux-Poilane is slightly darker than the photos. I only discovered 'food' option on my camera yesterday, so I'm hoping my pics will be more truthful in the future. :p)

Faux-Poilane has higher proportion of WW (all in the main dough),  while this one has about half the proportion of WW than faux-Poilane and it's all in S/D.  I really don't think I fully understand the difference of 'mechanism' between  having' flour X' in pre-ferment (like S/D) and having the same flour in main dough, but I've always thought the flavour/aroma of 'flour X' stands out if it's used in main dough, while it works as a sort of backdrop (or a layer on the base?) for flavour/aroma for the bread if it's only used in pre-ferment, even the amount used is the same.  Also, probably because it's fed with more nutrient WW than, the S/D for 'Suburban Dijon' seems to have more vitality (?) than that of 100% white flour-fed S/D for faux-Poilane, it makes the crumb of this bread lighter and more airy. Also acidity of this bread is less obvious than that of faux-Poilane.  It's there, but much milder.

Also, by replacing about 1/3 of white flour potion in the main dough with plain flour (11-11.5% protein) , instead of all strong flour (13-14%) as in faux-Poilane, this one has less 'chew' than the other one.  Or  could it be because WW is in the S/D rather than the main dough, too?....I don't know, to be honest.   Actually the texture of faux-Poilane is much closer to real Pain de Campagne we had in Dijon, but taste-wise, Dijon's is something between faux-Poilane and this bread.  So I'm guessing it's just a matter of adding a little WW and using less plain flour+more strong flour to make this more like Dijon's. The question is, how to add it.

Another thing about Dijon's Campagne was its depth of flavour. It was light, but deep. My faux-Poilane has depth of flavour, but a different sort of depth, while this one hasn't quite managed to achieve that sort of depth, yet. This may be to do with less acidity, too......

Still, we quite like this one at the moment. Maybe because of warm weather. I don't want my bread to be too strong and 'assertive' when it's hot. (to English standard, that is....:p)


varda's picture

What a great answer.   I have also wondered about differences of flavor that come with flour X in the starter vs flour X in the final dough and I think you are onto something with your ideas.   I have your Poilane on my to bake list but I have to get to the right store to replenish my spelt supply.   Thanks for taking the time to respond in such detail.  -Varda

lumos's picture

I have also wondered about differences of flavor that come with flour X in the starter vs flour X in the final dough

Let me know when you discover the definite answer!

Awaits for your report on how you liked the faux-Poilane....with anticipation. ::fingers crossed::


best wishes,


hanseata's picture

and I think it will never be possible to make an exact copy of a bread you have eaten in another country, where the flour is different, probably even changing from harvest to harvest, and the baking conditions - not to mention the technique and experience of the baker.

But, no matter whether it's "suburb" or "downtown", taste rules, and your bread looks very tasty!


lumos's picture

Thanks, Karin. :)

Regarding trying to re-produce a bread in other countries, yes, I totally agree with you it's not possible to do it perfectly.  I've never ever thought I can do that. 

Actually I've just got 6 bags of authentic T55+T65 French flour a couple of days ago which my daughter brought back for me from Paris, and I experimented with that today.  The result was stunning (the report will come later...when I recover from the shock....:p)    It'd been at least 5-6 years since I used authentic French flour last time, and today's experiment really reminded me how different French flour tastes than UK flours. I'd thought I'd remembered the difference clearly enough, but obviously I didn't.  The difference was really mind-blowing.... a bit depressing because now I really understand improvisation with my local flours can only take me so far....which is not very far.  And I'm only talking about the flour my daughter picked up from a supermarket shelf,  more than likely not the best quality one!  

However, if you don't have either time or money to go back there to get that bread or the authentic flour everytime you feel an urge to it, the only compromise is to try your best with improvisation.  And it's an added bonus you unexpectedly managed to  conjure up a new recipe you like totally by accident along the journey. ;)

best wishes,


nycbaker11's picture

Hi Lumos, 

I'm very interested in giving this "lodeve" bread a crack at it. do you have a formula/technique on it? 




dabrownman's picture

baking,  The oriental versions do look more like ciabatta than your version of Lodeve and the othr examples.  The twisted versions also look fun to make too.

I'm not sure I could get any large holes with no proof after shaping and chucking them right into the oven as Andy and the Google translation seem to imply.   I am also glad that water did enter the composition too - otherwise the bread might have been ...... very dry indeed.

I'm also guessing the Fench would have a hard time replicating your version of Lodeve, or mine in America,  using their flours too!

My playing with a mix of WW, spelt and rye whole grains in the levain only, with AP and Bread flour in the dough flour,  seem to produce a deeper flavor and more sour in the finished loaves than the other way around or a mix half and half.  I don't know why this is so though.   Am also totally amazed at the difference toasting the wheat germ makes as it imparts a much deeper flavor as well.

I've got to get out the DO again and do some baking with it.

Your bread development projects are very interesting,  Thanks for the right up, formula  and the pix's .  That is some awfully good bread that has to taste good !

grind's picture

I found this utube video - turn it up!