Pain Blanc Au Levain

As if I weren’t getting enough of French words in the series of recipes I have endeavored from The Village Baker, tonight I watched the French foreign film The Intouchables with a certain little club we started at Calvary, Filmosopher’s Fellowship. The plot traces an unlikely friendship between two men on either side of cultural, economic, and health divides. The takeaway message: the best way to allay judgment and debilitating pity is to touch, actually touch, one another. Touch has a way of making us forget separateness. I suspect sharing bread has similar powers.Image

Pain Blanc Au Levain

White Sourdough Bread

Adapted from The Village Baker

Makes 1 round loaf and 2 baguettes


1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

½ cup warm water

¾ cup sourdough starter


1 package yeast

2 cups warm water

4 ½ cups all purpose flour

Levain (above)

1 tbsp salt

Glaze: 1 egg white and ½ cup cold water

The fountain technique is important here. Put the flour on the workbench and form a little volcano divot.Image

Pour the starter and warm water into the divot and mix with your finger.Image

Slowly mix like this, adding more and more flour until the dough comes together and it can be kneaded. Knead for 5 or 6 minutes and then let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 4 or 5 hours.

To make the dough, proof the yeast in ½ cup of water. Make a fountain with this flour too and break up the levain and dissolve it in the divot with water. Pull in the flour to the dough by the same manner as before. When almost all the flour has been added, sprinkle the salt in and knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes. The dough will be soft and wet. The majority of the gluten should have been developed in the paste stage.

Let dough rise, covered, for one hour. Punch back and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Shape the dough into one round and two baguettes. Allow to rise for 2 hours in a cool place.

Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 450 degrees. The baguettes should be in for 15 to 20 minutes. The round will take 20 minutes. Slash the baguettes diagonally, and do a crisscross pattern for the boule.


5 stars. The crumb on this bread was light and airy. The flavor was more complex than the white French bread I made previously. Or perhaps I was just feeling more French because of listening to the language for several hours. Oui Oui, hoh hoh.Image

One thought on “Pain Blanc Au Levain

  1. What a beautiful reminder about how vital human touch is, and what a fantastic film club! Between that and Beer Church, I’d say you and KP are revolutionizing church groups 🙂

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