Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pain au Levain Trilogy. Now with More Ham.

Bread is alive.

Okay, not the stuff in the plastic wrappers at the grocery store, but real bread is alive.

And baking bread is both an art and a science. Dough responds to certain factors like yeasts and heat and time, and those factors are different in each kitchen.

Room temperature fluctuates. Ovens fluctuate, and have hot spots. Wild yeasts and sourdoughs have varying levels of potency and store-bought yeast has an expiration date and varies by country.

So, even though you have a recipe and your ducks lined up in a row, you are the best judge of how long to let a dough rise, or bake, or if it needs more flour, water.. what have you. And your confidence will come with experience.

This is not to make bread baking sound daunting, rather - have fun with it. People have been baking bread long before we had scales, electricity.. heck, even ovens.

Don't be afraid to play.

This pain au levain (everything sounds good in French, no?) trilogy is adapted from Hamelman's Bread, for the Mellow Bakers. Pain au levain basically means sourdough bread. These ones are "spiked", meaning they also have commercial yeast. I like those kinds of bread, you get the tang and complexity of a sourdough and the loft and reliability of a yeasted bread. And here are three variations to choose from!

You need to have a healthy sourdough going for these breads. If you've never made a sourdough starter before, Susan has a good method here.

Wanna make different shapes like buns and baguettes? Just do it! Shape how you like and reduce the baking times accordingly. 

Now, let's get baking!

Pain au Levain
Levain
4.6 oz bread flour
0.3 oz rye flour
3 oz water
1 oz mature sourdough culture
Dough
1 lb, 9.8 oz bread flour
1.3 oz rye flour
1 lb, 1.8 oz water
1 Tbsp salt
All levain
The night before: Mix levain ingredients together well. Cover and let rest for 14-16 hours at room temperature. 
The next day: Add all the ingredients, except the salt and levain, to the mixer. Mix on low for 2 minutes until roughly combined. Let rest, covered, for a half hour or up to an hour if quite cool in the kitchen. 
Add salt and levain, in chunks, and mix on medium with the dough hook until thoroughly combined. Finish kneading on lightly floured counter. Shape into a ball and let rest, covered, for 1¼ hours. Fold dough and let rise another 1¼ hours. 
Shape into loaves and let rise 2-2.5 hours. 
Preheat oven to 440°F. Score and bake breads for about 40 minutes or until nicely coloured and an internal temperature of 204°F +. 
Let cool on wire racks.

Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters
Levain build
2.6 oz bread flour
3.2 oz water
1 Tbsp mature sourdough culture
Rye sourdough build
2.6 oz rye flour
2.1 oz water
1 tsp mature sourdough culture
Dough
1 lb, 8.3 oz bread flour
2.7 oz whole wheat flour
1 lb, 0.4 oz water
1 Tbsp salt
All levain
All rye sourdough
Night before: prepare your levain and sourdoughs by mixing the ingredients together in their respective bowls and covering. Leave at room temperature overnight, at least 12 hours, covered. 
Next day: Mix everything in your stand mixer with the dough hook, except the salt. Combine until roughly ball shaped and let rest, covered, 30 minutes to an hour. 
Add salt and mix for 3 minutes on medium speed. Finish kneading on lightly floured counter. Shape into a ball and let rest, covered, for 1¼ hours. Fold dough and let rise another 1¼ hours. 
Shape into loaves and let rise 2-2.5 hours. 
Preheat oven to 440°F. Score and bake breads for about 40 minutes or until nicely coloured and an internal temperature of 204°F +. 
Let cool on wire racks. 

Okay, can we take a moment here?
Check out this sandwich. It's beautiful, no?
Yes, I made the bread. But I have made bread before.
What's new is the ham. 
I made that ham!!!!!

Making ham is a little further than the average home cook goes, but it isn't too difficult.
You need some specialty curing salts, time, spices.. and a smoker.
And you need to get a good book on charcuterie.
I used Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie. I am quite happy with it, but I am sure there are also other good books out there. If you are in the mood for trying your hand at curing meats, I highly recommend it. This ham, Tasso Ham, is in it. And it is delicious. Just look at it.

Yes, I could have made fancy mustard to go with it, but sometimes you want ballpark. Know what I mean?
It offsets the beautifully spicy and salty meat perfectly. Now all you need is a beer.

This concludes the sexy ham interlude of this post, now back to your regularly scheduled sourdough.

Pain au Levain with Whole-Wheat Flour
Levain
4.6 oz bread flour
0.3 oz rye flour
3 oz water
1 oz mature sourdough culture
Dough
1 lb, 3.4 oz bread flour
1.3 oz rye flour
6.4 oz whole wheat flour
1 lb, 2.8 oz water
1 Tbsp salt
All levain
The night before: Mix levain ingredients together well. Cover and let rest for 14-16 hours at room temperature. 
The next day: Add all the ingredients, except the salt and levain, to the mixer. Mix on low for 2 minutes until roughly combined. Let rest, covered, for a half hour or up to an hour if quite cool in the kitchen. 
Add salt and levain, in chunks, and mix on medium with the dough hook until thoroughly combined. Finish kneading on lightly floured counter. Shape into a ball and let rest, covered, for 1¼ hours. Fold dough and let rise another 1¼ hours. 
Shape into loaves and let rise 2-2.5 hours. 
Preheat oven to 440°F. Score and bake breads for about 40 minutes or until nicely coloured and an internal temperature of 204°F +. 
Let cool on wire racks.
This bread has been Yeastspotted!
*A note on water - municipal water has chlorine in it to prevent bacteria growth. It also kills off wild yeasties. But not to worry, it dissipates easily over time. Just leave a pot or kettle of water out overnight and use that. Bottled water is not a guarantee of purity, and it likely has chlorine (plus it is terrible for the environment!) Tap, left out overnight, is fine for most areas.

MellowBakers.com