King Arthur Baking Sourdough Bread: Pain au Levain

Abigail’s oven is in use every day to make the perfect loaf of bread called “Ingredients Perfect 3”. It is a real sourdough bread made with just water, salt, and flour. However, this doesn’t mean that you can buy anything like the French bread at the grocery store. In French, the word for sourdough is “levain”, and the word for bread is “pain”. So, to call sourdough bread in French, you would say “levain au pain” or “bread levain at” which translates to “sourdough”.

I have never received as many compliments on the taste of any other loaf that I have baked. Just to let you know, this recipe has been modified for a single loaf. I utilized the expanded recipe from their website to create one bâtard (resembling a football shape) and one boule (resembling a ball).

Table of Contents




  • 1 ¼ cups (150g) of flour.
  • 1/3 cup (75g) purified water at room temperature.
  • 1/8 cup (30g) live sourdough starter.
  • Combine the mentioned ingredients to create a smooth yet firm dough.
  • Place this in a greased bowl with a cover and let it ferment at room temperature.
  • It will take approximately 12 hours for the starter to mature, increasing in size by twofold.
  • Dough.

  • All of the aforementioned sourdough starter.
  • 1 cup (241g) room temperature purified water.
  • 2 and 5/8 cups (315g) of flour (I combined equal parts of white and whole wheat).
  • ¼ Cup (25g) light rye or pumpernickel (dark rye) flour.
  • ½ Tablespoon (8g) of salt.
  • *The temperature of the room should be maintained between 65°F and 75°F.

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  • Divide the levain into smaller portions, incorporating it into the water of the dough. Stir to combine and dissolve a portion.
  • If a stand mixer is being used, which is the case for me, utilize the dough hook and operate it at the lowest speed for a duration of 2 minutes. In the event that manual mixing is preferred, a dough scraper can be employed to combine the dough, simultaneously breaking down the levain as it is mixed. Continue mixing until all the flour is adequately moistened. Proceed to incorporate the remaining ingredients, excluding the salt and 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Then, place a cover over the bowl and let it rest for a duration of 30 minutes.
  • This dough will be quite sticky. Knead the dough in a stand mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed, or knead by hand for 3 minutes. Then, add 1 tablespoon of water and the salt.
  • Place the dough in a bowl that has been coated with oil and cover it, allowing it to rest for one hour.
  • Next, gently stretch and fold the dough and let it rise for an additional 60 minutes.
  • (To see more information, watch the video below starting at 3:00.) Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes, with a covering on a surface dusted with flour. Shape it into circular forms and split it into two equal parts. Lastly, apply pressure and release the air from the dough.
  • The people at King Arthur offer these final suggestions to guarantee a fantastic loaf of bread:

    Prior to baking, it is also possible to chill the dough for a duration of 8 to 18 hours. Allow the dough to rise in a proofing basket (brotform) or a bowl that is lined with a cloth coated in flour for several hours after shaping it.

    3- Preheat the oven with your stone, or cloche, or Dutch oven inside to 450°F (232°C). If you’re planning to bake on a stone with steam, preheat the stone and a cast-iron frying pan on the shelf below the stone for 60 minutes.

    4- Place the dough onto lightly oiled parchment paper. Then score the dough with a bread lame or sharp serrated knife. Make three parallel cuts (or other design) down the center of the dough, and mist or brush it with water.

    To extend its storage time, it also freezes effectively. Bread retains its quality when kept at room temperature for one or two days. Afterward, take the bread out of the oven and allow it to cool on a rack. The internal temperature should reach a minimum of 195°F (92°C). The loaf should exhibit a golden brown color, be solid on its edges, and produce a hollow sound when tapped on the underside. Bake the bread for a duration of 35-40 minutes.

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    King Arthur Baking adapted this recipe from the levain au pain fro, which promises a wonderfully open crumb. By adding a bit of rye flour and whole wheat flour, produce can sometimes long-ferment the sourdough to create a tangy and strong flavor, without sacrificing the deep dimension of taste. Unlike other sourdough breads, this one has a very mellow flavor. They say it also makes a delicious sandwich and is great alongside pasta, stew, or soup.

    This is the best basic sourdough bread, made with commercially produced yeast for those of you who, like me, enjoy baking bread using a sourdough starter. It is recommended that all home bakers, especially those who are new to baking, give this loaf a try before attempting more technical loaves. The folks at King Arthur also say that their levain au pain is the sourdough bread that they like the most.

    For baking sourdough, here are 7 tricks and tips to check the recipe. The key to achieving a good crumb is to use steam during the first 20 minutes of baking. The baking process takes between 35 to 40 minutes. This recipe requires some planning as the fermenting process takes over 18 hours, but the total prep time for this recipe is about 15 minutes. The larger levain is fermented at room temperature for about 12 hours, resulting in a mild flavor.

    In the comment section below, we would be delighted to listen to your encounter with this recipe.

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