Pain au Levin (Sourdough Bread)

You must have a mature Sourdough starter for this recipe.  This will take 7+ days depending on your temperature and humidity. Why Sourdough? It is naturally leavened, in other words, no added yeast. This type of bread has ancient roots. Today people like it because it tends to be more digestible and often uses more ancient grains not genetically modified. This leads to a tasty more healthy bread. But it is challenging so be patient. It takes time to get the starter ready and the leavening times are longer than regular yeast breads.


Final Dough:

  • 300 grams Levain mature sourdough culture – meaning it is at least 7-14 days old
  • 680 grams of Organic White Unbleached All-Purpose flour or Bread Flour
  • 90 grams of Organic Medium or Dark Rye Flour
  • 455 grams of non-chlorinated water
  • 15 grams of sea salt


  1. Add all ingredients except the salt to a medium or large mixing bowl. Mix the dough with your hands or a dough whisk just until the ingredients are incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm area for 30 minutes. This is called the Autolyse period where the dough can incorporate all of the liquid.
  2. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and mix by hand for a few minutes just until the dough comes together. Sprinkle the salt all over the dough and continue hand mixing until the dough reaches a medium consistency. It should be somewhat silky to the feel. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover and let ferment for two hours total. At the one hour mark, take the dough out onto a work surface and fold the dough once.     For more on folding dough
  3. Then put the dough back in the oiled container and cover for one more hour.
  4. After the two hour fermentation, the bread should have risen and expanded. Divide it into two equal pieces. A baker’s scale is recommended. After resting for 15 minutes lightly covered, the bread should be shaped using shaping baskets or boulets. The baskets should be rice flour coated or use flour coated cloth inserts in the baskets to prevent sticking and to show scoring marks after baking. The bread baskets should be covered with plastic wrap and allowed to rise for 2 ½ hours. Prefer a warm place for rising.
  5. After the second fermentation, preheat the oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit   (200 Degrees C) the bread baskets are inverted onto a baking stone or baking peel and scored with your own pattern and loaded into the oven. For more on scoring
  6. Bake the loaves of bread for 40 minutes with steam applied for the first 15 minutes. Or alternatively use Emile Henry Pain de Campagne baking ceramic and it simulates a steam oven. If using a Emile Henry Pan, after 35 minutes take the lid off and bake uncovered for at least 5 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool completely prior to serving or cutting.

Recipe Notes

Inspiration: Bread Cetera and Jeffrey Hamelman from King Arthur Flour, Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipe; I had the pleasure of meeting and taking classes from Mr. Hamelman at King Arthur Flour in 2016. He is a master at his craft.