....... Pain au levain .....
I first made this bread a month or so back, but just haven’t had time to write about it. I think it is my favourite bread so far in the book and I have made it on numerous occasions. This is the second “stiff dough levain” recipe in “Local Breads”, and uses a mixture of white, wholemeal and rye flours, that Mr Leader has determined to be as close as possible to the Type 70 flour made from winter wheat used in Alsace.
The recipe doesn’t call for any retardation steps, but I generally use at least one, as it is more convenient for my bread making process. As Mr Leader mentions in his foreword to the recipe, the longer the dough chills (retards), the more chance the bacteria present will have to produce acids giving it a more tangier/sour flavour. I do like the result from an overnight proof or bulk fermentation.
The stiff dough levain build uses 45g stiff starter, 50g water, 95g white/AP flour and 5g wholemeal flour. My starter generally takes about 7-8hrs to reach readiness for baking (current air temp about 20C give or take), so for my latest batch of bread (currently proofing). I fed up my starter yesterday morning (for a double recipe), and here it is before making the dough last night - I did press it with my finger prior to taking the photo so it has started to deflate!
I tried to take a photo of the bubbles in the starter dough, but don't think I was overly successful (Phone is my only digital camera):
The dough is total weight 985g, with 70% water, 70% white/AP flour, 24% wholemeal, 6% rye, 25% starter and 2% salt (I upped this to 3% as recommended by a friend so will see how the flavour is. He reckoned the 2% brew could have done with a bit more). Autolyzed, kneaded, folded,
retarded O/N, folded, shaped into approx 500g batards, proofed in fridge for about 3hrs then at RT for about 1.5hrs - or whatever happens to suit at the time (oven heating up as we speak!).
Baked at 450F (230C) with steam for 15 mins, then at 400F (200C) for another 25 mins.
I have made this as is numerous times only varying the fermentation, proofing, retardation steps according to mood and need.
I have made a linseed variation with 100g linseeds soaked in 227g water o/n (water in dough reduced to 235g), which was SPLENDID!
Had insufficient WM flour on one occasion so used the 180g I had and upped the rye weight to compensate. Last week I had forgotten I had no WM flour so used buckwheat instead!
Made a “fantasy” levain (as they call it in the book) and rolled the dough out flat spread it with pesto and toasted pine nuts,
rolled it up,
sliced it in half lengthwise then twisted into a “Russian braid”
and baked it in a tin – a bit oily from the pesto, and very green, but quite tasty.
Think I wouldn’t use pesto again as made the bread slightly dense, but I think feta, pine nuts and sun-dried tomato would go well.
Today’s “fantasy” levain includes celery and Parmesan along the lines of Graham’s celery and Romano  loaves. I made one loaf "fantasy" and the other 3 plain (double recipe for hungry demanding friends) - here is the celery loaf (left) and one of the plain loaves from today, slashed and ready to go in the oven:
And baked ...
The celery/parmesan loaf didn't have such a great gringe, but by hokey it tastes fantastic!
Couldn't even wait for it to cool completely, sliced, a lick of butter and down the hatch with a nice glass of chardy! Thanks Graham! Next time will have to get in some Romano instead of the parmesan.
I fully intended to soak some whole-grains to add to today’s batch, but forgot to soak the grains when I fed the starter, so will save that for the weekend. So many variations, so little time!
Happiness is making bread!!