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White Leaven Bread

posted May 14, 2010, 7:27 PM by Jenny Loh
Another recipe from Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf. I halved the portion as I didn't know how  this loaf will turn out.  I've thrown out a number  of breads before,  which seems a  waste.

Last week, I started building starters. It was an experience. I started with one, using rye bread.  I realised I started with a little too much.  I had to split it if not,  it'll be a waste.  I decided to work on white starter from Dan Lepard's - The Handmade Loaf,  mother starter from Peter Reinhart's - Artisan's Bread Everyday,  and finally sourdough rye starter from Jeffrey Hamelman's - Breads.  

The building process was interesting,  every 24 hours,  I fed the culture. I see it grow day by day.  By 3rd day,  I was a little worried,  built up a lot, as I didn't discard. They were growing very very well.  I kept them in a box, corner of my living room,  and the weather had been great.  Averaging at least 20 degree celsius that helps with this process.

So,  seeking my bread community's help (,  I got pretty good advices on what my final starter should look like.  They are the best. 

By the 6th day, my 3 starters were behaving very very well,  as predicted.  I had 3 more days before weekends,  before my baking days.  I had no choice but put them in the fridge.  I had selected 3 recipes from the 3 different books to try.  Here's my first:  White Leaven Bread, the 1st recipe in Lepard's book. 

I did more research on how I can get more holes and really really stretch the gluten.  I decided to combine a few methods - autolyse (sort of),  rest, stretch and fold over the rising period.  

Here's what I did:

Thursday night:  Refresh the leaven.  I put 100g white starter + 100% flour + 80% water.  Mix them up and leave at room temperature in my box.  24 hours - Friday night,  my white leaven had risen 3 times.

Friday night:  I prepare the dough,  started at 7pm.  Mix white leaven, water, flour.  Let rest for half hour.  I did a 15 stretch and fold.  Let rest for half hour.  Another stretch and fold.  Took a bath.  I realised I have not added salt and the malted grains yet.  Quickly came out and mix them in.  The dough was getting sticky - I thought I had over handled it.  Threw some flour over,  and very very gently do a bit of stretch and fold.  It got back into shape.  Let rise for 1 hour,  another stretch and fold.  This time on the table top.  Let rise another 1 hour,  another stretch and fold.  It was late, I knew I cannot wait for the final proof, I shaped into a batard,  very very gently,  not trying to burst those bubbles that had formed.  Trying to distribute them as well as I rolled gently to elongate it.  Finally, put into the lined basket,  cover it,  and let it go into the fridge.  I decided to retard the dough in the fridge.

Saturday morning:  In the middle of the night,  I woke up worrying about my bread.  It has to wait,  I need my sleep.  I woke up really really early, 6am (that's early for me).  Took a peak at my bread,  yes!  It looks good,  almost doubled.  Soft on the inside, but not wanting to over proof,  I heated up my stove.  Re-read Lepard's book. I'm suppose to keep the temperature low,  at 220 degree celsius.  It didn't mention whether I should steam the oven,  I went ahead anyway, since I shaped it into a batard. 5 minutes before the oven was ready,  I scored the dough.  This was just one of those that scored nicely,  without those drag lines.  

I tried to use my pizza peel to slide the dough,  oops,  it didn't want to slide off,  tried ever so gently to give it a push,  it nudge a little,  shake it, and it went onto my cast iron skillet,  Oops,  I push it too far back and one small end part is drooping skillet was small.  I closed the oven door and let it went ahead to bake.  I looked kind of flat.

I read somewhere that you should get a good oven spring usually at the 1st 10 minutes. I stared at my dough.  I see that it started to rise, rise rise after 8 minutes,  and seems like it was trying to burst from the skin.  I love it!

Since I didn't place my dough properly, not in the middle,  and my oven turn table refuse to move as it was too heavy.  I had to manually turn the skillet to make sure I had a good browning everywhere,  every 10 minutes,  as I was spraying water onto the cast iron.

The bottom was a little flat, but the top seems to be bursting out,  I should have scored deeper.

The inside is soft,  the crumbs are open,  the gluten are well stretched.  The taste is a little bland, should have added a little more salt.  There's very little sourdough taste,  but I guess a white leaven would not have very strong taste?  

The inside is chewy and tangy  (now I understand what people mean by that).  The crust was not as crispy as those commercial bought bread,  my father had a hard time chewing off,  as he had not many teeth left. 

100% leaven bread - first try, and I believe I got good success here. Thanks to the advices of my bread community, and my own patience, I guess.

I have another recipe in the making - Peter Reinhart's - Pain Au Levain.  Waiting to be shaped and bake....


100g white leaven
162g water
250g strong Japanese flour
5g salt
3g malted grains