Le Pain au Levain (French sourdough)

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This is a French style sourdough bread based on the research by Olivier Segouin into medieval baking methods.

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Olivier runs a medieval bakery at the amazing French theme park Puy Du Fou. This recipe is based on his technique, adapted for T65 flour (main recipe) and for normal UK bread flour (at the bottom).

Starter:

1 tablespoon sourdough starter
130g T65 French bread flour
80g water

Dough:

490g T65 French bread flour
290g water
1 teaspoon salt

The day before baking

Make up the starter. In a bowl mix the water and sourdough starter, then add the flour. Mix together well until a dough mixture forms. The starter will be stiff – like bread dough – but it does not need to be kneaded. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for about 24 hours.

Making the bread dough

The next day the starter should have grown considerably in size and have a domed shape with the top just starting to fall back towards the bowl. The starter should have a very light and open texture.

Stir the starter up with the water, then add the flour and salt. Gently stretch and fold the dough until it forms a smooth elastic ball.

Return the kneaded ball of dough to a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 3 hours.

After 3 hours fold the dough into a tight ball or loaf shape and leave to rise in a banneton or loaf tin for a further 3-4 hours.

Slash the dough with a sharp knife and bake in a wood fired bread oven for an hour, or more realistically in gas/electric on a hot baking tray for 10 minutes at 250°c followed by 45 minutes at 180°C.

For more tips on making sourdough bread download our e-book or book a place on a sourdough course.

Ingredients adjusted for UK bread flour

Starter:

1 tablespoon sourdough starter
130g strong bread flour
80g water

Dough:

480g strong bread flour
315g water
1 teaspoon salt