Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pain Au Levain

Ahh, my first post. I have many bread books but my latest is Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day". I absolutely love this book. I have made the Neapolitan Pizza dough many times and love it. Last week I spent the entire week making the mother starter on pages 36-43. And it took the whole week. I ended up with a very active mother starter which I can now keep in the fridge and replenish weekly.

On Friday, I used a small piece of it to make the sourdough starter for "Pain au Levain" on page 61. First you turn a small piece of mother starter into sourdough starter by mixing it with flour and water. Then you let it sit for 6-8 hours until it increases to 1 1/2 its original size. After twelve hours, I had nothing and it was time for bed - so.. I stirred it down (turns out it was slightly puffy) and let it sit overnight. Voila! the morning it was doubled.

Saturday: Time to make "Pain au Levain"! I made up the dough in my trusty old KitchenAid stand mixer. It was easy to stir up. After kneading, the dough goes directly in the refrigerator overnight. Not much work for today.
The KitchenAid is an old one. I got it in 1983 right after we were married. It's only 4.5 qt and I often need more than that I ordered the 6 qt mixer. Yes!! Blue Steel to match my kitchen. I'll add a pic when I get it. I just know I will love it.

Sunday: The dough was at least doubled so I took it out of the fridge and formed 3 batards. After they had puffed up to almost double I baked them on the pizza stone. Here they are! They were sooo good. They had a really nice complex flavor and crunchy crust.

Overall. The bread was very little work on any given day and now that the mother starter is made, very little effort will be needed to make another batch of this bread. And I certainly will be.


  1. Did you steam the bread in the oven too? I bet it had great flavor!!

  2. I spritzed it with water several times. It was very good.