Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hamelman's Pain au Levain

I think that spring has finally started to peak out from behind the clouds, rain, and snow.  The bare trees are starting to have a tinge of green, from buds popping out of barren limbs.  There are even tulip leaves emerging from the ground and the Glory of the Snow blooms are dying back.  (who names these flowers anyway?)  The grass is growing, and hillsides are looking more green than brown.  It's still really muddy, windy, and cold, but it's not the biting cold of winter and I'm excited at the thought of putting away the snow boots and heavy coats.  My tulips have pushed up through the ground and have no flower stalks yet, and the Lilac bush is sprouting buds.  Couldn't resist a couple photos today!

We drove to the big city the other day, although most would call it a small town.  It's a 3 hour drive through the mountains, high plains, and crossing many streams.  The tamarack's have a faint yellow tinge to them as their needles start to emerge, from what appears to be dead evergreen's.  Yes, I believe spring is here.  The horses with their foals, the cows with their calves, and the goats with their kids, were everywhere we looked.  The birds are singing, the frogs are everywhere, and we have quite a chorus at night!

You wonder why I am talking about spring, when my post is called Hamelman's Pain au Levain?  First off, for those who don't know, Pain means bread in French.  Levain refers to a natural yeast starter, most people call this sourdough bread, at least in the USA.  You might be surprised to know that sourdough doesn't always have to actually taste sour.  Many sourdough breads are actually sweet tasting, but they do have a depth of flavor to them that standard breads don't.  In fact, any bread that has a preferment (a dough portion that has aged) will develop flavor from the wheat, but sourdough adds another element due to different chemical activities that take place.  No science lesson today on exactly what happens inside the dough as it rises and ages.  Let's just note that the French really had it right when they called it a "pain"!  Not ALL the time, but occasionally it can be.  Here is a picture of some french bread I made today.  It really looks nice, as do the baguettes that are on the right.

Hmmm, I changed the subject again didn't I?  It is just not as fun to talk about a bread that turned out like this:

Now I could go through what went wrong with this loaf, but lets just leave this one to it is really messed up and go feed it to the chickens, goats, and dog.  Whoever doesn't turn their nose up and walk away can have some, cuz it's rubbery and just plain bad.  This is not the fault of the recipe, rather it was the baker who tried to do to much and just didn't have time to finish it properly.

Hmmm, the chickens, goats, and dog seemed to think it was pretty awesome!  Did you see the happy faces in the pictures above?  That was in the middle of feeding them.  Glad the dog didn't go and bury his!

1 comment:

  1. It would be nice if all our loaves turned out wonderful, but I guess we have to have some bloopers so that we learn what happens when we don't hit the mark. I wish I had had some animals to feed my bread to a few weeks back when I made an aweful vermont sourdough. Those goats are so cute and innocent looking. It was their lucky day.