Pain de Mie au Levain Variation

13/02/2010

pain de Mie au Levain Variation

pain de Mie au Levain Variation

When I made this rye bread a couple of days ago I ended up with a lot of excess rye starter which was the result of several refreshes well over 30 hours.   If you knew me I never threw away any excess starter, ever.   What I usually do is save it in a container, put it back in the fridge and somehow some way manage to use it up to flavor other baked goods such as my favorite old-fashion sourdough waffles (very occasionally pancakes), sourdough bagels, crepes, etc but most likely it is excess white starter I am talking about.  But for this I haven’t gotten any idea how I was going to use up this much excess rye starter.

Then several days later, while still being half asleep in early morning I opened the fridge and so barely made out what this off-white colored blob was doing on the shelf; I stepped back and told myself what the heck… then I leaned forward slowly and carefully moved my fingers over it to find a  hard cement-like feel.   Still haven’t figured out what was going on until I noticed a yogurt container with its lid already half-opened sitting on top of the blob and it appeared that its content had been climbing out over its mouth roaming freely around the base.  It took me a few minutes until I remembered I had put the excess in that recycled yogurt container.  That plastic yogurt tub has a snap-on lid, however,  the excess –the culprit– was so strong even in cold storage that it pushed the lid open and exploded.

Wow, here it was a very vigorous  starter excess; my brain started working scanning over what I should do to give this crying-out-loud yeast, which seemed quite anxious to go somewhere, a chance to shine before it missed its window of opportunity.  Then I remembered recently wrote a comment on Sally’s Bewitching Kitchen on her gorgeous pain de mie au levain, which had rye flour in it, leavened with sourdough starter –two pluses in my book– and how I had always wanted to make pain de mie but never did.  It was a snap decision so off I went with mixer and loaf pan.

I basically used Sally’s recipe with a few minor changes to adapt to what I had in my kitchen.  I used 100- percent-hydration whole rye starter excess and adjusted the amount of rye flour called for in the recipe.  I also pumped up the seeds to 10 percent because I preferred lots of seeds in my bread and used a little bit more water to arrive at the total dough hydration of 72 percent to  just experiment a little bit.

Sally was right when she said the bread was fun to make.  I mixed the dough up in the early evening, applied a long autolyse,  did several folds and let it rise at room temperature for one hour before placing it in the fridge for a cold overnight fermentation   The following early evening I took the dough out and allowed it to get to room temperature by putting it in the oven with the light on for several hours, then shaped it into a large bâtard loaf and a small sandwich loaf.   It was a breeze, as I was working and doing gazillion other things in the meantime, next thing I knew it was already time to  prepare the loaves for a bake.   I should mention that the second rise took over 3 hours at between 72 – 75 degrees F; the loaves rose strongly, full of air bubbles and well expanded.

pain de mie batardpain de mie sandwich loaf

So here is my adaptation of Sally’s recipe, which she got from Flo’s,  and I called mine pain de mie au levain variation.

Pain de Mie au Levain [Slight] Variation

(adapted from Sally’s blog)

Yield one 540-gram sandwich-type loaf  &  one 825-gram bâtard loaf

Equipment: 8½ x 4½ x 2-inch loaf pan

The Dough

Ingredient Weight Bakers Percentage
Rye Starter 100% hydration 210 g 33%  **
Water 433 g 67%
Unbleached bread flour 617 g 96%
Rye Flour 25 g 4%
Sea Salt 13 g 2%
Sunflower & Flax Seeds 65 g 10%
Total weight: 1363 gram;      total Dough Hydration: 72%

** I used a vigorous rye starter excess

I baked the loaves at 435 degrees F with initial burst of steam so both loaves got a thick crust. In the past I’d only baked a few sandwich-type bread like this one, and that one, so I was excited to have another go at it. Since I was using an, albeit strong, starter excess to raise the bread I did not set my expectation too high and would be happy if the bread turned out. Turned out it did as I was surprised to behold at how deep a mahogany color the loaves got. A bite into a slice of the sandwich loaf surprised me even more of how sweet it was even though not a gram of sweetener of any form was added. And I adored the pronounced rye flavor.

batard pain de mie au levain

pain de mie batard loaf

pain de mie sandwich

pain de mie au levain sandwich loaf

This bread was so very easy to make, the dough with medium gluten development — even with a few percentage  increase in dough hydration (read: wetter and stickier)–  it was a joy to shape.  It’s not only beautiful to look at –the rye-color shading studded with golden flax  & white sunflower seeds– it also tastes absolutely delicious.  I hope you’ll give it a try, like I did here with starter excess.

pain de mie batard load crumb

pain de mie batard loaf crumb

pain de mie au levain toasts

avocado & cheese pain de mie au levain sandwiches

I am happy to send this bread over to join the weekly party over at Susan’s Yeast Spotting where you’ll find many ideas and delicious recipes for anything yeasty created by amateur bakers and bread enthusiasts around the world.

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20 Responses to “Pain de Mie au Levain Variation”


  1. Very beautiful loaves!

  2. Flo Makanai Says:

    Beautiful deep brown loaves! I love it that my recipe is getting so lively thousands of miles away from home!
    I want to do that pain de mie again using a soaker.
    Have a nice day!


    • Thanks Flo!

      Funny should you mention a soaker for I have already mixed this pain de mie (my variation) with a soaker and will bake it this evening.

      A soaker plus rye starter will turn this bread into one that would taste similar to Dan Lepard’s alpine baguette. AB is a lot heftier but evermore delicious; do check it out.

      • sallybr Says:

        Oh, now you perked my interest….

        I don’t think I’ve seen Lepard’s alpine baguette recipe – it’s not in the Handmade Loaf book. Is it on his website? Or in his other book?

        (huge Lepard’s fan here!)


      • Sally,

        Sorry, I misquoted it. It’s in Daniel Leader’s “Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers”.

        You know, Dan Lepard vs Daniel Leader, too early in the morning (only 0515 Saturday morning local time here.)

        If you don’t have the book I can give you the recipe. You can take a look at some photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierravalleygirl/sets/72157623394497501/

        My pics did not do justice… at the time I just created a starter and was so anxious to make sourdough so I had 3 different breads going in the kitchen, juggling with couches, proofing and baking schedule.
        AB being the last one to go into the oven and I was extremely exhausted by then, I slapped everything into one big boule instead of dividing, shaping into several 12-inch baguettes… You get the picture.


  3. [...] Pain de Mie Au Levain [slight] Variation [...]

  4. sallybr Says:

    Oh, my!

    What a gorgeous bread yours turned out to be! This recipe is definitely a keeper….

    thanks for linking to my Bewitching Kitchen!

  5. Mimi Says:

    Gorgeous bread..but I have to admit to being a little frightened of the yeast that is roaming around in your kitchen. That’s pretty strong stuff to (unfed) in cold storage push the lid off it’s container. Wowza!!


    • Thank you!

      Yes, rye starter is responsible for all that.
      When I take my rye mother starter out of cold storage for refresh/feeding, depending where I warm it up it pops its container’s lid once in a while making a very loud noise.

      I still need to write a post about rye flour. Soon.

  6. sallybr Says:

    I don’t know how to add my reply in the right place, so here it goes… :-)

    I completely understand the Lepard/Leader confusion – I do this kind of stuff all the time, and not only at 5:15am

    I have Local Breads, but thanks for offering to post the recipe – I will now take a look at your alpine baguette photos

  7. Flo Makanai Says:

    Oh, I’m happy I came back to your post because the pics of the bread slices are fantastic. I love that bread ;-)!
    I don’t have Local Breads at home, so I’m very much interested by the recipe.

  8. Joanne Says:

    way to use up every last bit of that starter! What gorgeous loaves (and even prettier sandwiches!)

  9. Zeb Says:

    I can’t help wondering if the linseed does something mysterious to dough, whenever I have used it in a bread i gets very big just like these beautiful loaves that you have made…. I made a rye and linseed loaf from Jeff Hamelmans book Bread that behaved something like this one, and the slashing was very well behaved too –

    sorry should say hello properly! Lovely pictures, gorgeous bread! A visitor from Sally BR’s blog.
    all the best, Zeb


    • Hi Zeb, thank you and welcome to my blog!

      I have wanted to try linseed for a while but I still have a large bag of golden flax seeds so have used those instead. Can’t tell if linseed has the magic wand but keep doing what give you hole-y bread.
      Would love to see your beautiful loaves.

      • zeb Says:

        Mily, I think linseed is the same thing as flaxseed, it’s just what it’s called usually in England. I can get it in ‘golden’ and brown varieties here. It goes all mucilaginous (sort of gooey and frothy) when you soak it doesn’t it? I think that has something to do with how it behaves in the dough, something like a watered down gluten almost, giving body and stretch to the dough, as well as nutritional value? But I am only speculating here, as I am no scientist!


      • Zeb, chia seeds I was thinking of when linseed mentioned. Don’t ask me why. See Dan Lepard vs Daniel Leader in Sally’s comment above.
        Great! Regional difference aside linseed = flax seed. Thanks!

        I am dubious of soaked linseed’s’ –simply slimy in my lingo– contribution to open-cell bread crumb because it has not consistently happened to my wheat breads and certainly not rye ones if I really stretch it [pun intended]. lol!
        However speculate away for this great mystery of bread creating that gets us all hooked, right?
        I baked Hamelmans’ recipes exclusively in my first years of getting to know yeasts.
        Happy baking, Mily

  10. sallybr Says:

    Oh, how wonderful! I should definitely make this bread again, it was one of our all time favorites

    thanks for the mention of my post, what a sweet surprise!


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