The next bread on the Mellow Bakers’ list is made with a whole-wheat levain. The pre-ferment for this bread is considered a poolish because it utilizes a liquid-style culture. However, this poolish is a little bit different. Rather than using baker’s yeast to jump start the enzyme activity, it uses a natural sourdough starter.
The recommended flour for levain builds is winter-wheat bread flour made from hard red winter wheat with a medium protein strength of 11.5 to 12. It is also recommended that high-gluten flours be avoided in building levains. I decided to try the build with Einkorn flour instead of the winter-wheat bread flour. Although Einkorn flour has a higher protein count than modern wheat, it does not have the gluten content so I thought it might work.
Whole Grain Einkorn Levain
Adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Whole-Wheat Levain in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
Makes: 1 large loaf
The original formula made two loaves and I only wanted one so I also adjusted the formula to make one loaf.
- 2.4 oz Einkorn flour
- 2.4 oz water
- 1 oz (2 tablespoons) mature culture (If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you might enjoy this Apple Starter or try this Einkorn Levain)
- 5.6 oz Einkorn flour
- 1/2 lb bread flour
- 1/2 lb water plus a little extra if necessary
- .3 oz salt
- 4.8 oz mature culture
Making the Einkorn Poolish:
Approximately 12 to 14 hours before the final mix, make the poolish by dispersing the mature culture in the water and mixing in the Einkorn flour. Let stand in a covered container at about 70 degrees F. I thought the Einkorn flour worked great in the pre-ferment. It wasn’t quite as active as a regular wheat starter but it still worked well. If I had left it on the counter longer than 14 hours, I think it would’ve been more active.
Mixing the Dough:
Add all of the ingredients to the mixing bowl.
In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. Correct the hydration if necessary. The dough should be of medium looseness. Finish the mix on second speed for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. The gluten network should be only moderately developed.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it bulk ferment for 2 1/2 hours. Fold the dough twice, at 50-minute intervals during the bulk fermentation.
Shape the dough round or oblong and place it on parchment paper. Let the dough proof for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Score the loaf using a serrated knife or lame. I get tired of scoring loaves the same way so I made up my own pattern.
Bake the loaf on in a preheated 450 degrees F. oven with a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan underneath. I forgot to add the steam pan so I just sprayed the walls with water 3 times during the first 15 minutes of baking. Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack to cool.
The dough rose really well during the bulk fermentation, but it didn’t rise very much during the final proofing. It was kind of flat when I placed it in the oven, but then came the oven spring. The scoring kind of made it rise lopsided, but I was pleased for the most part with the way the bread rose in the oven.
This dough has good volume, and a light texture as well as great flavor. I really like the way the crumb turned out. Look at all of the holes.
Thanks for joining me in the Bread Experience bread-baking blog. I hope you’ll join me again soon.