Pain aux Cereales

2010.Apr.21 Wednesday · 4 comments

in Food & Recipes

“This is perhaps the best bread in the world.”

– David Lebovitz, The Grainy Breads of Paris

High praise indeed for a loaf of bread found in the back alleys of Paris – or wherever it is that Eric Kayser has his shop – I simply imagine David skulking about the back alleys looking for the perfect baguette, a knob of butter made from raw milk, and perhaps a gauloise, lit by a French sailor on shore leave. So when I was in the mood for playing around with some sourdough “grainy” breads, an internet search was in order. Now, no question that there’s some deviation from the original in the various recipes I found out there, but if the end result is even close to the touted loaf above, this is one spectacular bread. The rest in pictures….

The start of the levain liquide
First, the start of the levain liquide – a little whole wheat flour and water, left to ferment for a day.

Levain liquide after 24 hours
Mix 50 grams warm water with 50 grams whole wheat flour. After 24 hours, it looks like this.

levain liquide after 1st addition
An addition of 100 grams bread flour and 100 grams water, plus 20 grams sugar, and left to ferment for another day.

levain liquide after 48 hours
After 48 hours it’s starting to look like quite the starter.

levain liquide after 2nd addition
Another addition of 200 grams bread flour and 200 grams water and left to ferment for half a day.

levain liquide after 60 hours
At 60 hours, it’s ready to use. Mixed 150 grams of it with 500 grams bread flour, 3 tablespoons extra gluten, 275 grams water, ½ teaspoon salt, and a mix of 1 tablespoon each sesame, sunflower, millet and poppy seeds. Depending on where you live and the natural yeasts in the air, this could take anywhere from half a day to two days to rise at this point – you’ll have to be the judge of it – I found I needed to add a little fresh yeast at this point to help it rise.

After proofing and shaping
After proofing and then shaping into a big round, it went onto a silicone baking sheet, left to rise and then baked in a hot oven with a pan of steaming water to give it a nice crust.

Top view
And, quite the crust it is, too.

Bottom view
And the bottom looks just as good.

Closeup interior view - pain aux cereales
A closeup view of the inside after cutting. You can just see a line in the center where it’s not quite dried out – it probably needed another 5 minutes in the oven.

It is, regardless, sublimely delicious, and will be featured in the form of our dinner rolls over the next couple of weeks. At least. I won’t vouch for best bread in the world, but without question the best multi-grain and/or sourdough bread I’ve ever had, or made.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paz April 23, 2010 at 17:15

wow! i like the way the end product looks.


wembley April 23, 2010 at 17:36


dan April 24, 2010 at 01:13

Yes, yeast. Otherwise you’ll end up with a dense hockey puck. Not the texture I’d go for in bread, but you’re welcome to it. While it is possible to do a bread like this without, the length of time it takes for enough yeast to develop naturally to make it rise (unless you live in a bakery), is ridiculous – I did try it – after 24 hours it had risen maybe 10% above its starting point – nowhere near doubling – and was becoming too sour to end up being tasty.

dan October 13, 2010 at 08:34

An interesting post today on the King Arthur Flour blog about why one needs to add a bit of bread yeast in addition to sourdough to get a good rise in the bread dough:

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