destination: bread of the wild

April 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

Pain au Levain first attempt
This is the short version.

I am on a quest to learn how to make amazing homemade bread.  After a couple of failures over the last month I’ve finally achieved what I consider a success.

There are so many facets to real bread making, whether artisan or just “homemade.” Even at the mere beginning of this bread odyssey I’ve learned lots of new baking related terms to mispronounce: boule, hyper-diastatic, leuconostoc–yeah, I know! The most important information I’ve learned so far is that there are numerous factors in yeast bread that just don’t come into play when making things like banana bread: ambient temperature, relative humidity, flour type, oven sprint, bad bacteria (leuconostoc), hydration level, etc.  Learn the essentials first, then experiment. Got that edc?

Last night, a successful bread was finally born in my kitchen. It’s Peter Reinhart’s Pain au Levain recipe-a wild yeast (natural yeast) bread. Yes, I added a bit of the optional baker’s instant yeast to guarantee that I would have a fully risen loaf of bread in my oven, instead of the low slung breads previously created. My self-made, 14 day old natural yeast starter is a mixture of whole wheat, rye, and white flours. The white flour is a very high gluten bread flour from Giusto’s.
Pain au Levain first attempt
Pain au Levain first attempt-curley batard
Pain au Levain first attempt
The recipe produced two small loaves, so I tried different shapes. Both were baked separately, using the dutch oven method. The round loaf, baked second, did not rise as much of as the batard loaf, which was handled more during the shaping–a factor? The batard shown above curled because it wouldn’t fit in the dutch oven otherwise. They both had an excellent crunchy crust. Flavor was nice and mild, just a very slight tang. The texture was soft and lightly chewy, what I classify as a classic italian bread. It’s good bread. I have to admit that the sexy photos make it look 10x more amazing. I want really amazing.

My long bread story is still in process. Wild yeast destinations and others. There will be a bit more specifics in future posts.

It’s time to feed the starter…
Pain au Levain first attempt

additional photos [slideshow]



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§ 2 Responses to destination: bread of the wild

  • Rena Buchgraber says:

    Beautiful!!! What’s the percentage of whole whet in the final dough (not the starter)? And: how is it faring after a day or two – still crunchy/chewy?

  • zero % whole wheat flour for the main dough, rena. It’s 100% ultimate performer white from Giusto’s. the next day the crust was still crispy and bread still chewy, it did lose a little moisture overnight wrapped in a towel. I do have a hearty mixed whole grain planned in the near future, likely joseyb’s method. and thanks. edc

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