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Apr 6, 2022

Double Levain Pilsner Bread

This double levain pilsner bread is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. You will love your first slice, slathered in melty salted butter. 

Double Levain Pilsner Bread, one sliced, one whole.

Beer and bread have long been linked together. Other than hops (or salt in the case of bread), they pretty much have the same ingredients... grains, yeast, and water. 

I once took a beer making class with a group of friends. While I don't remember much about making the beer,  do remember that they sent us home with freshly baked loaves of bread from the spent wheat we used to make the beer. It was amazing. 

This was before I got interested in bread baking or I might have asked a lot more questions! 

Two uncut loaves of pilsner bread on a cutting board.

P.S. The bread was much better than the beer. 

This bread takes a little planning ahead because you make two levains the night before and then mix the final dough and bake the bread the next day. 

The recipe makes two loaves. You can freeze the second loaf by wrapping it in foil and then freezer wrap after it cools. When you are ready to use it, remove the freezer wrap and let it thaw at room temp still wrapped in the foil. 

Double Levain Pilsner Bread slices and loaf on a board.

Ingredients in this Bread:

This bread includes bread flour, rye flour, and whole wheat flour. The two overnight levains (starters) are built with active 100 percent hydration sourdough starter. 

For the beer, I used a Mexican-style Pilsner, but you could use whatever beer or ale you have on hand. 

The final dough also includes salt along with a bit of instant yeast. 

Double Levain Pilsner Bread loaf with scoring.

Because of the rye, the dough can be a little sticky when handling, but try not to add any extra flour when shaping. Otherwise, you might end up with a heavier loaf. 

Also, if your sourdough starter is a little sluggish, be sure to feed it the day before to get it going before beginning to make this bread. 

How to Make Double Levain Pilsner Bread

The night before you bake the bread, mix the two levains, a rye levain and a liquid levain. Once you've mixed them, cover the bowls and let them sit overnight, for 12 to 16 hours. 

Next, mix the final dough by breaking up the levains in water, and then adding the flours, the beer, the salt, and the yeast. 

Let the dough rise for about three hours, performing four stretches and folds during that time. 

After that, divide and shape the dough into rounds and let rise a second time in towel-lined bannetons or bowls. 

Finally, score the loaves and bake them with steam or in Dutch ovens. 

Note: Regarding the Dutch ovens, I like to move the loaves to a baking sheet after removing the lids to prevent burning on the bottom. 

Double Levain Pilsner Bread slices in a basket

This month, the Foodie Extravaganza group is celebrating New Beer's Eve, which happens to be April 6th. It's the day before National Beer Day. Who knew? It was originally declared to celebrate the end of Prohibition in 1933. 

To celebrate, we are all sharing recipes containing beer. Our host is Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm

Foodie extravaganza logo

Double Levain Pilsner Bread slices on a wooden board

Double Levain Pilsner Bread

Double Levain Pilsner Bread
Yield: 30 slices
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 1 HourCook time: 40 MinInactive time: 16 HourTotal time: 17 H & 40 M
This double levain pilsner bread is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. You will love your first slice, slathered in melty salted butter.


Rye Levain
  • 65 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) whole rye flour
  • 52 grams (1/4 cup) water
  • 13 grams (1 tablespoon) sourdough starter
Liquid Levain
  • 65 grams (1/2 cup) bread flour
  • 65 grams (1/4 cup) water
  • 13 grams (1 tablespoon) sourdough starter
Final Dough
  • 195 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) water
  • All of the rye levain
  • All of the liquid levain
  • 456 grams (3 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon) bread flour
  • 33 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) whole rye flour
  • 33 grams (1/4 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 195 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) pilsner beer
  • 13 grams (2 1/8 teaspoons) salt
  • 2 grams (3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast


To Make the Levains
  1. The night before baking the bread, mix the levains, separately, in bowls. Cover and let rise for 12 to 16 hours.
To Make the Final Loaves
  1. In a large bowl, add the water and the levains, and mix until the levains have broken up.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand, a dough whisk, or a wooden spoon until you have a rough, shaggy dough.
  3. Cover the dough and let rise for about 3 hours, doing stretches and folds at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, and 120 minutes, covering between each stretch and fold session. The dough should become more smooth each time.
  4. Let the dough rise untouched for the final hour.
  5. Divide the dough in half and preshape each half into a round. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Line two bannetons or 9 inch bowls with tea towels and sprinkle fairly generously with wheat or rye flour or a 50/50 mixture.
  7. Shape the boules and place them, seam side up, in the baskets/bowls and cover. Let rise for an hour.
  8. In the meantime, heat the oven to 450 degrees F with two Dutch ovens if using them, or with a pizza stone on the middle rack and a steam pan on the bottom rack if you are not using Dutch ovens.
  9. When the loaves have risen, turn each out of its basket onto a piece of parchment paper each. Score the loaves in whatever pattern you prefer.
  10. If you are using Dutch ovens, remove them from the oven, remove the lids, and lift the dough and parchment into the pan using the parchment to lift the dough and leaving it on the bottom. Replace the lids and place the Dutch ovens in the oven.
  11. If you are baking on a stone, slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto the preheated stone. Add a cup of ice cubes to the steam pan. Shut the oven door.
  12. Bake the loaves for 25 minutes and then remove the Dutch oven pan lids and bake for an additional 20 minutes either still in the pots or move the loaves to a baking sheet to finish baking, until the loaves have an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees F. Cool completely on a wire rack.

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Beer bread
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This is an adaptation from Irish Levain Bread by Martin Philip in his book Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes

Would you like to comment?

  1. They are beautiful loaves of bread Karen. How fun to take a beer making class even if it didn't make a lasting impression. It's always fun to learn something new.

    1. It totally is. And it was with a great group of friends too!

  2. Interesting that you too a beer class, loved reading the details of making the bread in this post. That crumb looks perfect Karen!!


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