Hier geht’s zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Plötzblog is one of Germany’s best bread baking blogs. When Lutz Geißler (author of “Das Brotbackbuch”) invited us to his blog event blog-experiment: “Wir bauen uns ein Brot” (Let’s build a bread), I was intrigued.

Of course I wanted to attend the very first “Bread Olympics”

Each participant has to bake a loaf, roll or small bread with these ingredients and these amounts:

  • 450 g (90%) wheat flour Typ 550 (or bread flour)
  • 50 g (10%) whole rye flour
  • 10 g (2%) salt
  • sourdough and/or yeast
  • water

And that’s it: nothing else should be added.

But there are no restrictions on how to make your bread – method, level of hydration and leaven are entirely up to you.

This challenge was hard to resist, especially since the best of all husbands was still traveling all over Vietnam, and, after sanding and re-oiling all my kitchen counter tops, I could do with some entertainment.

My husband, indulging in imperial dreams in Vietnam

I knew at once what kind of loaf I wanted to create – a French bread, made with Forkish’s minimalistic method, and baked in a Dutch oven. I’m really enthusiastic about how you can bake a fabulous bread that is “pinched instead of kneaded.”

So I opened my BreadStorm program, entered the ingredients, and started to play around with hydration levels and percentages of pre-fermented flour.

I also had to take into account the amounts of flour in my refreshed levain – 5 g bread flour and 2 g whole rye flour – and deduct them from the total.

BreadStorm-Users (including the free version) can download the formula here 

Whether my Pain au Levain de Seigle will win at the Plötziade, or not – it definitely was a winner for me. I enjoyed its aromatic taste, crackling crust and open crumb so much that it went straight into Karin’s Bread Hall of Fame!

Still a bit warm – I couldn’t wait any longer!


1. Step-Levain (Refreshing – you will use only part of it for step 2)
10 g mature starter (what you have at hand)
40 g water (90ºF/32ºC)
40 g bread flour
10 g whole rye flour

2. Step-Levain (after 24 hours)
12 g refreshed levain (keep remainder as mother starter in the fridge)
47 g water (90ºF/32ºC)
47 g bread flour
12 g whole rye flour

Final Dough
338 g water (90ºF/32ºC)
398 g bread flour
36 g whole rye flour
10 g sea salt
118 g levain (2. step)

7:00 – 9:00 a.m. Feed your mature starter (step 1) (With such a small amount the hydration level of your starter doesn’t really matter.) Cover and leave for 24 hours at room temperature.

Ripe levain, showing the typical sponge structure under the surface

7:00 – 9:00 a.m. (24 hours after refreshing the starter)
Mix 2. step-levain, cover, and leave for 7-9 hours at room temperature.

Mixing flour and water until all flour is hydrated

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
In large bowl, mix flours and water by hand, until all flour is hydrated. Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add salt and levain to flour mixture

First pinching the dough…

…then folding it. (The last 2 photos are from other, similar breads)

Prepare bowl with water (to make your hands wet). Sprinkle salt over flour mixture and add levain.

With (wet) hands, fold dough from sides over to the center, then, working like a pincer, pinch dough several times, alternating with folding, until dough is smooth, about 5-6 times. (DDT: 77º-78ºF/25º-26ºC.)

After folding place dough ball back into bowl

Fold dough 3 times more, twice at 20 minute intervals, the last time before going to bed. Leave, well covered, at room temperature overnight.

The dough has tripled overnight

After 12-15 hours the dough should have tripled. Prepare a very generously floured rising basket.

Transfer dough to a floured area on an (otherwise unfloured) work surface. With floured hands, gently fold sides towards the middle to make a round. (The flour “skin” on the underside prevents sticking.)

Folding the dough from the sides to the middle

Then flip the round gently over, seam side down, onto the unfloured area. With floured hands, pull dough ball towards you, until you have a medium-tight boule.

Place dough round, seam side down, in proofing basket, sprinkle generously with flour, cover well, and proof for about 3-4 hours.

3/4 hours before baking, place Dutch oven (with lid) on the middle rack, and preheat oven to 475ºF/245ºC.  Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter (for the bread transport).

Finger poke test: a dimple that doesn’t fill up again

The dough should at least double in size, use the finger poke test to decide whether it is ready to be baked.

Finger poke test:
Gently press a dimple with your finger in the dough – it should still be a bit elastic, but not fill up again, and stay visible. 

Cutting parchment paper to make a sling for the bread

Place bread on prepared parchment paper, smacking the banneton energetically on the counter! Cut paper around the bread, leaving 2 long pieces as handles, to make a sling. (Clipping the paper prevents creases from cutting into the bread.)

Using a paper sling makes transferring the bread to the hot pot easy

Remove hot Dutch oven from oven, and put bread (with paper) into it. Replace the lid.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid, and bake it for 20-25 minutes more, or until bread is medium to dark brown (internal temperature 210ºF/99ºC).

Tilt Dutch oven to slide bread out (the paper might now be too brittle to serve as sling), and let the loaf cool on a wire rack. Let the bread rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing – even if you, like me, have a hard time to wait!

A very tasty bread!

Submitted to Plötzblog
and Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico                                       
                           Indovina chi viene a cena 




  1. I hope I will manage to participate- have something in mind already.
    Good luck with the lentils- will you let me know how they worked out?


  2. I'm very happy that you liked my breads, Gilleus – and obviously they turned out great.
    They are quite a few male bread bloggers, by the way, but you are right, the females like their sweets, me too.
    I try to keep my blogging limited to breads and other baked goods (savory ones included), with the one or other dessert strewn in.
    I heard you have 20ºC in Germany – here in Maine it's still rather cold.


  3. Sorry, if that is a bit confusing, Neill. Step 1 is just how I refresh the starter, taking part of it then for the bread I'm going to bake, and keeping the remainder as mother starter in the fridge.


  4. Hi Karin, I have been using a high grade flour here in NZ to mixed results, how will this affect the dough. I notice your dough holds some shape after the final rise but mine is alway like jelly


  5. Do you mean high-protein flour? If your bread really flattens out when you remove it from the basket, it might already be over-proofed. Your flour might have more enzyme activity, or your ambient temperature is warmer than here in Maine. Did you check the elasticity of the dough with the finger-poke-test to see at what stage of proofing the loaf is?


  6. No here our flour comes in 3 grades, all purpose, self raising and high grade.
    It's fairly cold here I put it in the hot water cupboard to proof but the dough never seems to firm up, I'm also trying the Tartine recipe at the moment too and I don't see much in the way of a tight boule when shaping and it never seems to hold the shape so comes out quite flat when baked


  7. It must have something to do with your specific environment. I know, New Zealand has mountains, are you living in a higher altitude? If so, check out the link for higher altitude baking in the “Good to Know” menu. Also, your high grade flour might absorb less water than ours, therefore I would try to reduce the amount of water in the dough a bit as a first step, and see what happens.


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