Levain Bakery is located on New York City's Upper West side but it bakes with a distinct French accent. Co-founded by two friends who had worked in the fashion and finance industries, the bakery has won kudos from Zagat and others for its artisanal methods and the authentic flavors of its breads and pastries.
Put yeast and warm water in mixing bowl. Whisk yeast until creamy looking. Combine flours, walnuts, raisins and salt. Add into mixing bowl. Using dough hook slowly begin mixing, adding cool water to form a smooth, elastic dough (see Tip at the bottom). Mix with dough hook for 5-8 minutes until dough is elastic. Remove and place on half sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in refrigerator 8 - 24 hours.
After dough has risen, shape into a round: flatten, then pull four sides of dough into center and turn over. Place round in center of clay clouche. Place cover on clouce. Let rise overnight in refrigerator.
Lightly flour the top of each loaf. With sharp knife score the top of each loaf with a V shape. Place the preheated cover over the loaf. Place in center of 375 F preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Makes 1 round loaf.
Tip: When first combining water and flour, its essential to create dough with the right consistency. If dough is too wet and sticky, add a bit more flour. If dough is too dry and hard, add a bit more cool water.
The Levain Poke Test for Proofed Dough:
Poke the refrigerated dough with a finger. If the indentation holds, you're ready to bake. If dough bounces back, let sit in a warm spot until it passes the test.
Recipe courtesy of Levain Bakery, New York City.