Busby's Bakery School

Pain Au Levain Recipe

pain au levain recipe

Easy

20 - 22 hours

france

Pain au levain is the benchmark in sourdough bread across the world. Rivalled with San Francisco sourdough bread the pain au levain is one of most popular breads in the world.

Strictly speaking, we should be using french flour. I use T55 bread flour, but any bread flour will work, even all purpose flour can give fantastic results. French bakers will not use rice flour or semolina to line the banetonns, so for authentic pain au levain's be careful to use plenty of flour when dusting yours.

Whether you call it a pain au levain or a sourdough boule, this bread is a "must learn". I hope you enjoy baking it at home!


Ingredients 


    330g  White french bread flour


    221g  Water 


    100g  Sourdough starter


      8g  Salt


1

In a mixing bowl, weigh the water and tare the scale. Next weigh the sourdough in the same bowl. Weigh the flour and the salt separately and add to the water & sourdough bowl. 

2

Set a 6 minute timer. Using a dough scraper start to gently combine the ingredients and when the bowl is starting to hinder the kneading technique, take out the bowl and onto a workbench. Continue the slow kneading using a slow, stretching technique until the timer sounds. Next fast knead using the stretch and slap technique, again setting a timer for 6 minutes.

3

Place back into a mixing bowl, cover and bulk ferment in the fridge for 12 hours. Stretch and fold at 4 and 8 hours.

4

After bulk ferment, remove the dough from the fridge and pre-shape into a ball. Lightly flour dust an area of the workbench and use this to rest the dough for 15 minutes. Line a banneton by dusting flour on it. 

5

Reshape into a ball shape. Do this gently to try and retain the gas bubbles in the dough. Final shape and proof for 8 - 10 hours, this time depends on the temperature of the dough and the room. It can take longer than this on a cold day. Preheat the oven to 250C (480F) with a baking stone and a baking sheet on the shelf underneath.

6

Once the dough has risen to the top of the basket and doubled its size it is ready to bake. Lightly flour a bakers peel (or a chopping board) and tip the baneton upside down. The bread should release, give it a bang if it doesn’t. Cut a cross shape using a bakers lame and slide the dough into the oven. Add plenty of steam by pouring a cup of boiling water into the baking tray and quickly shut the door. Drop the temperature to 230C (440F).

7

After 20 - 25 minutes, open the oven door to release the steam and consider dropping the temperature down to 210 - 200C (410 - 390F) if the crust is already well coloured. Bake for another 15 - 25 minutes until the crust is a golden colour.

8

Remove from the oven using a peel and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 2 hours (if possible).

Method using a dough mixer


1

In a mixing bowl, weigh the water and tare the scale. Next weigh the sourdough in the same bowl. Weigh the flour and the salt separately and add all the ingredients to a dough mixer with a dough hook attachment.

2

Mix for 3-4 minutes at a slow speed to incorporate the ingredients and then move to fast speed for 3 minutes. The dough should be extensible with a slightly tacky feel. 

3

Remove the dough from the dowl mixer using a dough scraper and place it into a mixing bowl. Cover and bulk ferment in the fridge for 12 hours. Stretch and fold at 4 and 8 hours.

4

After bulk ferment, remove the dough from the fridge and pre-shape into a ball. Lightly flour dust an area of the workbench and use this to rest the dough for 15 minutes. Line a banneton by dusting flour on it. 

5

Reshape into a ball shape. Do this gently to try and retain the gas bubbles in the dough. Final shape and proof for 8 - 10 hours, this time depends on the temperature of the dough and the room. It can take longer than this on a cold day. Preheat the oven to 250C (480F) with a baking stone and a baking sheet on the shelf underneath.

6

Once the dough has risen to the top of the basket and doubled its size it is ready to bake. Lightly flour a bakers peel (or a chopping board) and tip the baneton upside down. The bread should release, give it a bang if it doesn’t. Cut a cross shape using a bakers lame and slide the dough into the oven. Add plenty of steam by pouring a cup of boiling water into the baking tray and quickly shut the door. Drop the temperature to 220C (430F).

7

After 20 - 25 minutes, open the oven door to release the steam and consider dropping the temperature down to 210 - 200C (410 - 390F) if the crust is already well coloured. Bake for another 15 - 25 minutes until the crust is a golden colour.

8

Remove from the oven using a peel and allow to cool on a cooling rack for 2 hours (if possible).

Make pain au levain with a video tutorial


Top tips for the best pain au levain


You can also try this recipe using a no-knead method to make pain au levain. Simply stop mixing once the ingredients are incorporated and continue on with the same method as above but adding another stretch and fold after 2 hours.

If you don’t have a banneton you can use a glass or ceramic bowl and line it with a tea towel. A wicker basket can do just the same task as a banneton and are sometimes sold with a cloth cover.

Sourdough develops faster and creates a more sour taste when proofed at 32 - 34C. Cooler than this creates a more universally accepted sourdough bread.

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