Pain de Montagne – Mountain Bread

 Pain de Montagne

When I first made Pain de Campagne or “Country Bread” from Local Breads, I was very impressed with everything about the loaf.  It is by all accounts a truly exceptional bread.  The dough is a pleasure to work with, the taste is simple, but very satisfying, and the oven spring is remarkable.  So… when I recently observed my bread supply dwindling away, I charged up my levain for a repeat mission: Country Bread. When I went into the pantry to gather the flour I needed, I was not expecting to change the recipe at all.  But when I found some spelt flour, I could not resist the temptation for little experimentation!  And I’m not sorry that I messed with the original recipe.

It turns out that the small amount of spelt flour adds a whole new dimension to this simple rustic bread, and I thought this bake might become my daily bread.  Yet after brief reflection I felt something just wasn’t completely right. I realized I anticipated a specific overall taste that didn’t quite come through. To wit, the next time I make this Mountain Bread I hope to give it a simpler, distinctive  taste … I will leave out the whole wheat, add some toasted wheat germ, double up on the spelt, cut the rye in half and make sure that I give it a bold  bake.

Pain de Montagne crumb

 Pain de Montagne 

Loosely Adapted from Daniel Leader’s Local Breads

Desired dough temperature 76°

Levain Starter:

  • 50 g Liquid levain
  • 135g unbleached all-purpose flour (I used Type 65)
  • 175 g water

Ingredients:

  • 410 g  Type 65 or Bread flour
  • 30 g  Stone ground whole wheat flour ( I used Type 150)
  • 30 g  Whole spelt flour
  • 30 g  Fine or medium rye flour (I sifted my Type 150 rye)
  • 250g water
  • 310 g liquid levain (do not use all of the above starter, weigh it out!!!)
  • 10 g gray sea salt

Bread method:

  1. Take your levain out of the refrigerator, weigh out the appropriate amount of starter and whisk the levain in a bowl with the water.  Add the flour and whisk until it smooth.  Place the levain in a covered container and let it sit at room temperature (70 to 76°) for 8-12 hours or until it till it has expanded by about one third and the surface is bubbly.
  2. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl or the bowl stand mixer. Combine the flours until all the ingredients (except salt) are incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes, while the flour hydrates and the gluten begins to develop. If you are mixing by machine, you can wait to add the levain. I find it too messy to incorporate the liquid levain to the developing dough by hand.
  3. Kneading By hand: Turn the dough out onto your work surface. With floured or oiled hands knead a few strokes to start developing the dough, flatten out the dough, evenly disperse the salt and continue kneading for 12 to 15 minutes. I use a combination of the French kneading technique and the shown here if the  dough is really wet to start (video clips).  For the first couple of minutes it will be a sticky mess on your work surface, but do not yield to the temptation of adding more flour. Stop occasionally and use your bench scraper to gather any stray dough from your work surface. Continue until you have a good gluten development. You should be able to gently stretch a piece of the dough into a thin membrane that you can almost see through without it tearing.  By machine: Add the salt and levain and mix on medium speed until the dough cleans up the bowl and you reach a good gluten development.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 2 ½-3 ½ hours (70 to 75°). (I keep the dough at a consistent temperature 76° throughout.) If you would like to get a good overall picture of the bread making process for the home baker, I highly recommend you check out Mark’s videos at the Back Home Bakery
  5. Divide into two equal pieces and lightly pre-shape into a boule shape. ( I made one large boule)  Lightly flour the dough, cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Shape each piece of dough into a batard  or a boule and place seam side up on a floured couche or into floured bannetons. Cover with a plastic bag or plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 1-1 1/2 hours. (76°) When you press your floured finger into the dough, the indentation will spring back slowly.
  6. About one hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500°with baking stone and a tray in the bottom of the oven for steam. I like to add one cup of water or a hand full of ice cubes to the bottom tray a few minutes before putting the loaves in the oven to produce a moist environment for the baking of the proofed loaves.
  7. Gently turn the proofed loaves onto parchment paper or your floured peel. Score the loaves. Slide the loaves onto the baking stone, turn down the oven to 450° and continue to bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400° and for another 20-25 minutes (I turn the oven down to 450° and then after 20 minutes, rotate them to get an even distribution of the heat and continue to bake until I have good color and when you tap the bottom of the loaf you hear a thud). If you make one large loaf, make sure to give it a bold bake to help really cook the interior of this large loaf.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack before digging in.

Pain de Montagne crust

This post is being sent to WildYeast at YeastSpotting

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