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Pain au Levain

posted May 22, 2010, 2:02 AM by Jenny Loh
Recipe from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.  This was the 2nd bake over the weekend when my starter was ready for a try.  I decided to work on this as it requires whole wheat.  Wanted to see how this turns out and whether my starter is working.  This recipe is a mixed with instant yeast.  But I didn't use it. I had a pleasant surprise that mine rose very very well.

Friday night,  and I mixed up the sourdough starter.  It is meant to be left overnight.  The starter was active by 8 hours.

Next day,  I mixed the water and bread flour and put aside for 10 minutes.  I then mixed in all the rest of the ingredients,  and let rest for 10 minutes. I did a stretch and fold for 3 times every 10 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes the dough was ready to be put aside for rise. It only took about 2 hours for it to rise.  I did another stretch and fold after 1 hour of rise.  

Following after,  I did decided to make a boule, wanted to try out my slashing of a boule.  I used a colander to hold the boule as I wanted the the lines on the boule.  Using corn flour, generously flouring the colander.  I transferred the boule into the colander.  Put into the refrigerator to retard for 8 hours.  I usually throw over a wet cloth over the boule that's covered with plastic wrap to ensure that it doesn't dry up.

Removing it from the fridge,  takes about 1 hour to bring it to room temperature,  not entirely,  but ready enough to be removed from the colander. To remove the boule from the colander,  it does require some techniques.  Below, I've captured how I do it.  This is the best way to ensure that my boule remains in tact,  without losing shape.  

Remember to be very very gentle when you remove the colander.  Just let the dough drop out slowly.  To remove this, it should be only when the oven is almost ready for the dough to be moved into the oven,  as the dough may slump when it relaxes on the table top for too long.

I baked this at about 220 degree celsius with steam, for about 25 minutes, but I think my oven is not hot enough,  I should have kept it at 250 degree celsius, as the bread didn't brown nicely.  I baked it for another 10 minutes.  

The crumbs were lovely as I believe I've found a way where the gluten developed well. This bread is best eaten after 1 day to let the sourdough taste settle.  The bread last longer than other breads that I've baked.  The taste remains good even after 4 days.  It is even better when I grilled the bread on my grilled pan. It really brings out the whole grain smell.  


Sourdough Starter
35 Mother Starter (this is a stiff starter,  mine is kept as whole wheat)
71g bread flour
42g whole wheat flour
75g water

156g water
227g bread flour
8g salt
all of the sourdough starter