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Pain au Levain


  • 50g dark rye flour
  • 980g white bread flour
  • 21g salt
  • 530g warm water (desired dough temperature 25 deg C)
  • 290g wheat sourdough starter, refreshed*


  1. Refresh your wheat sourdough starter* the day before baking by mixing 300g wheat sourdough starter* @ 125% hydration tap water, 375g lukewarm water, 150g white flour and 150g wholemeal flour, then leaving to ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. Make final dough by combining all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Knead or mix for 5 mins until dough feels fairly elastic.
  4. Put in a covered container for first rise of 4 hours at 20C i.e. room temperature.
  5. Stretch and fold dough once or preferably twice, after 2 hours then after 3 hours.
  6. Test for readiness using “finger-poke” test in the dough. If indent closes very slowly then dough is ready. Divide into 2 or 4 pieces.
  7. Shape dough into rounds, then place seam side up in proving baskets or bowls lined with fabric and dusted with light rye or white flour.
  8. Cover and leave at 20C to prove for 2 to 3 hours.
  9. Test for readiness using “finger-push” test on the edge of the dough. If indent closes very slowly then dough is ready.
  10. Place in an oven pre-heated to 250°C, ideally onto a baking stone with a peel, then turn heat down to 220°C.
  11. Add mist to the oven with a garden sprayer for 10 seconds.
  12. Bake for 30-35 mins until crust is brown and bottom of loaf resonates when tapped.
  13. Leave until completely cooled before slicing and eating!

*This recipe assumes you have a wheat sourdough starter at 125% hydration i.e. 4 parts flour to 5 parts water. if your starter has a different hydration then adjust water quantities when you refresh the starter.