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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pain au Levain with wheat germ - shaped into 3Bs, boule, batard and baguette

I discovered toasted wheat germs in bread through a wonderful post by David Snyder (Dmsnyder)’on The Fresh Loaf. After having the first toasted wheat germ sourdough, I was hooked and have been trying different recipes with it since.

I made another wheat germ sourdough weeks ago and loved it. This time, I wanted to increase the amount of water (hydration) and included rye flour in the dough.

Instead of calling them wheat germ sourdough, I’d like to call it Pain au Levain with wheat germs (pain au levain is literally sourdough bread, only with fancier name). Taking the idea from Susan at Wild Yeast Blog, I shaped the dough into 3 Bs, three basic shapes; boule (round), batard (oval) and baguette.

The bread had 2% toasted wheat germs, 72% hydration (amount of water comparing to total flour), mixture of bread flour (80%), whole wheat (15%) and rye flour (5%). I used the mixed flour sourdough starter (whole wheat & bread flour at 50/50 ratio) as I wanted pronounced acidity for the bread.

The bread didn’t disappoint. It was good all-round bread. It was great for toast, soup and sandwiches. I made Croque Madame using the bread and it was delicious. This recipe has now become my go-to plain sourdough bread.

Croque Madame or ham, egg, cheese sandwich in plain English

It was also interesting to see the differences of the same dough into three shapes. Of all three shapes, I like the baguette shape the least. Baguette has high crust to crumb ratio and I am a crumb lover rather than crust. We froze the batard and haven’t got the chance to have it yet but I’m sure it will be as wonderful as the boule.

Recipe note:

I used the mixed flour starter at 100% hydration, with bread flour and whole wheat flour at 50/50 ratio.

To toast wheat germs, put them in heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Toss the pan and wheat germs to ensure an even toasting. Continue toasting until the wheat germs are deep golden brown and very aromatic

Here is the recipe....

Pain au Levain with Toasted Wheat Germs

make 1 boule, 1 batard and 1 baguette or 3 large loaves


Overall Formula
Baker’s Percentage
Bread flour
1235 g
Whole wheat flour
232 g
Rye flour
78 g
1112 g
31 g
Toasted wheat germ
31 g

Final Dough
Bread flour 1110 g (I used flour with 12.5% protein)
Whole wheat flour 107 g
Rye flour 78 g
Water 862 g
Toasted wheat germ 31 g
Salt 31 g
Mixed flour sourdough starter 500 g (100% hydration, mix of 50/50 bread flour and whole wheat flour)


Mixing: Dissolve starter with water until well combined.  Add the rest of  ingredients to the mixing bowl, except salt.  Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Leave it to autolyze in a bowl covered with plastic bag or wrap for 15 - 30 minutes. 

Sprinkle salt over the dough surface and mix on the first speed for 3 minutes and continue mixing on second speed for further 3 – 4 minutes, until a moderate gluten development is achieved (the dough can be stretched gently until you can see the transparent membrane and dough doesn’t tear). It took me 10 minutes kneading this dough by hand (the dough is slightly sticky and easy to knead by hand).

Bulk fermentation: - Leave the dough in a lightly oiled container and cover the bowl with plastic bag or wrap for 2-2.5 hour until doubled in size (it took me 3 hours during this stage at approx 10c room temperature). Do one stretch and fold after 1 hour.

Divide the dough into three portions of 1.4 kg (for boule), 900 g (for batard) and 400 g (for baguette) each. Pre-shape the doughs into rounds for boule and batard, and log for baguette. Let them rest for 15 – 30 minutes under a tea towel.

Shape the doughs into oblong (batard) and boule (round) and place into proofing baskets/bowls. Slip the proofing basket into a large plastic bag. Shape the log into baguette and let it proof on floured couche and covered with tea towel.

Retard the doughs in the fridge overnight or proof at room temperature for 2 hours or until almost double in size.

Baking: If retarding, take the dough out of the fridge and leave them at room temperature for 60-120 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature and prepare the oven steaming.

Bake baguette at 235C for 25 – 30 minutes with steam during the first 15 minutes. Bake boule and batard at 235C for first 15 minutes with steam, lower temperature to 225C and bake for further 30 – 40 minutes or until the loaves are deep golden brown.

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.


  1. these breads are beautiful!. As I'm planning to make this bread, I have some questions: at bulk fermentation, have you done streches and folds? 10C room temperature, is 10°C??? Have you ever tried baking the cold dough directly from the fridge?
    best wishes, codruta, from timisoara, romania

  2. Thank you, codruta.

    Yes, I did one S&F during bulk fermentaion.

    I live in Melbourne Australia and it is now in Winter and I mix the dough at night, when the room temp is or below 10C (I also needed to create the warmer environment to ferment the dough). It should take 2-2.5 hrs for bulk fermentation at 22-24 C.

    I usually don't bake the cold dough after the overnight retardation as I had problem with underproofed loaves when I first started baking breads. The shape won't be good, it's not unify when you bake underproof loaves. It's best to do poke test before baking to check if your dough is ready before putting into the oven.