Two lighter sourdough loaves, and French vocabulary

2 loaves

Being a weekend baker, I usually feed my starter Thursday or Friday, and bake Saturday. This week was unexpectedly busy, what with a three-hour condominio assembly Friday night. The owners of flats and shops in our small building meet to discuss bills and repairs to the common areas, with plenty of side discussions, smoking breaks and gossip. Still, no lengthy shouting episodes this time, so not too bad. Still, it mean that by Saturday afternoon I was very behind schedule. So I fed my sourdough starter, left it for three hours, made up the dough, and hoped for the best. Would we have decent bread for a late Sunday breakfast?


Two lighter sourdough loaves

200g sourdough starter (rye-based, 100% hydration)
290g water
350g plain wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1tbs mixed seeds

Ideally this should be mature sourdough starter, but I gave mine three hours and made up the dough. Normally I’d use a coarse rye flour, but this time I used a lighter rye flour. Add flour, water, and seeds, and stir together. After half an hour or so, add salt and fold dough. Leave for 2-3 hours on the counter, folding a few times along the way.

Note: This dough is meant to be baked in a cast-iron pot (250C, 30 min with lid, 15 min without). For a change, I divided the dough into two smaller loaf pans instead, each with baking parchment, covered each with a plastic shower cap, and left it overnight in the fridge.

2 loaves

The next morning, take the loaf tins our of the fridge and heat the oven to 250C. Slash tops. Bake 35 minutes or so at 250 until nicely golden and hollow when tapped underneath. Cool before slicing.

Notes: As you see, the structure was good, with more air pockets than usual. I wondered if they needed a lid, as the dough looked a but flat and unpromising, but the loaves rose well. These are lighter loaves, less coarse than I usually make and with a different starter content. The crumb seemed a little damp at first, but by mid-afternoon it was lovely. Good flavour though, and a nice shape for sandwiches, so the first loaf was gone within four hours!
bread with cheddar and cheery jam

Since I am working on French vocabulary today for an upcoming exam, though I should be studying grammar, here are some phrases I have noted (correct, I hope) in French for sourdough baking, while watching Jean de Florette. Let’s just hope I get a question about hobbies! (le loisir: activity done in spare time)

pain au levain (sourdough bread)
Le levain est la plus ancienne technique connue pour obtenir du pain levé. (oldest technique to raise bread)
La fermentation, en dégageant du dioxyde de carbone, permet à la pâte de lever. (fermentation gives off CO2 and allows bread to rise)
Le goût du pain au levain se différencie nettement du pain levé à la levure de boulanger. (different taste to bread made from bakers yeast)
Légèrement acidulé, en raison des acides lactiques et acide acétiques que dégagent les bactéries lactiques du levain. (slightly sour taste, due to lactic bacteria)

la farine du seigle (rye flour)
la farine de blé (wheat), la farine d’orge (barley), farine de châtaigne (chestnut)
La farine complète (wholegrain)
Les variétés de blés bio anciens (old wheat varieties)
Le degré de raffinage de la farine (degree of processing of flour)
Une farine panifiable mais pauvre en gluten, comme seigle (flour that can be baked to bread but low in gluten, like rye)

Avoir un levain assez actif pour faire pousser la pâte (having a starter active enough to raise the dough)
Le levain: un mélange d’eau et de farine où se développe une culture de levure et de bactérie lactique.
Le levain naturel: Il faut le nourrir une dernière fois la veille de la fournée (feed starter day before)
Je nourris régulièrement mon levain (I feed my starter regularly)
La quantité de levain impacte le goût, la texture et la conservation (quantity of starter impacts taste, texture and how it keeps)

 très facile à réaliser (very easy to do). Le pli (fold), un four (an oven),

une cocotte Le Creuset (cast iron pot), une casserole en fonte dans le four
Faire du pain maison sans pétrissage (no-knead baking)

Le gonflement (rising)
Laisse le pâton gonfler à son rythme (leaving dough to rise at its own pace)
Pain au levain demande des temps de repos (sourdough bread needs time to rest)
Le temps de levée de la pâte doit être bien plus long qu’avec de la levure de boulanger (longer time needed to rise than for yeasted bread)
la panification (bread baking)
la mise en couche (putting dough in proving basket)
La mie (crumb) et la croûte (crust)

une croûte croustillante (crunchy crust), légère, doré (light, golden)
Le pain au levain est plus facile à digérer que le pain à la levure. (sourdough bread easier to digest )

Ahhh, magnifique! Now, on to office-related vocabulary in French, necessary but nowhere near as fun as reading French sourdough articles.

11 thoughts on “Two lighter sourdough loaves, and French vocabulary

    1. Yes, well observed! I have been baking twice a week and leaving the starter at room temperature in between, it has certainly perked up.

      1. Yes, I’m trying to do that too, leaving it in the fridge less. Though room temperature in rubbish English weather in our badly constructed 1950s house isn’t really that much warmer than the fridge…

      2. Our flat (also from the 50s) is getting warmer and warmer, I am already dreading +33 outside and +30 inside. But the sourdough starter does seem happy!

  1. Wow, this bread looks really light! ..We had a similar idea!!! I love seed bread, I often make it, it’s really delicious! 🙂

  2. Wow, looks fantastic. I’ve tried baking sourdough in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven recently, and I am very new to sourdough baking, and it stuck to the pot. I was foolish and tried to get it out with a metal spatula but ended up causing some hairline scratches. Do you think I ought not use the pot for anymore cooking since it was enameled cast iron and not just plain cast iron? I wonder what went wrong this time, since the other times I have baked they have come out decent. Do you have your method for making your starter somewhere on your blog? Also, how do I learn about hydration? The recipe I use produces a really wet dough, almost to the point where it is hard to handle and shape. Slashing never seems to come out right, either — but the taste is always good for some reason, LOL.

    1. Oh, I have had bread stuck to the pot as well, especially with higher hydration dough. Every bake seems to be slightly different! Sprinkling in some coarse flour in the pot just before adding the dough to bake might work. I usually use baking parchment, and lift it over from the banneton to the pot. For really wet doughs, I just cut the top with scissors 4-5 times. Oh, and I bake in an enamelled Dutch oven sometimes, that should be OK. I will have a look for the starter maintenance and add it as a comment here, mine is pretty robust. For hydration: I experiment (also with yeateded no knead bread) and read baking blogs, here are some good ones for that: Or As long as the taste is good, you are doing a great job!

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