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 a small mixing bowl. Whisk until creamy. Set aside. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt with a wooden mixing spoon. Add in the butter. Attach the bowl to the mixer with a dough hook attachment. While mixing on low speed, add in cool water as needed to form smooth dough (see Tip at the bottom).
Continue mixing for 5 to 8 minutes until dough is elastic. Remove mixing bowl from stand. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
After dough has risen, lightly grease two 8-inch loaf pans. Divide risen dough in half and form each piece into a rectangular loaf shape. Place shaped loaves into prepared pans. Dust the tops of the dough with flour and cover the loaf pans loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
When dough has done proofing, preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly flour the top of each loaf. With a razor blade or very sharp knife, score the top of each loaf diagonally 3 times. Place the sheet pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes.
Makes 2 loaves.
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.
Recipe courtesy of Levain Bakery, New York City.