Pain au levain is a traditional French bread, naturally leavened with wild yeast. I chose this bread for the debut of my sourdough starter.
Usually I shape my dough into boules, mostly because I’m short on time and I know that haste and shaping anything else often equals disaster. This morning, however, I was so elated with being able to bake with my first sourdough leavened dough, I decided to challenge myself and shape the dough into bâtards, a shape I’ve never attempted. Oddly, mine look more like fat baguettes and don’t have the torpedo shape of bâtards; my only consolation is that I didn’t overhandle the dough and degas it excessively. While I was waiting for the final proof, I went online to read about the background of pain au levain and discovered that they are usually shaped into round boules or miches. So much for tradition!