Developing a Stiff Levain Culture

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

Appears in

Bread

By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

Ingredients

Day One. Initial Mix

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Whole-Rye Flour .65 lb 300 g 4 oz (1 cup) 50 %
White Flour .65 lb 300 g 4 oz (1 cup) 50 %
Water .85 lb 390 g 5.6 oz (¾ cup) 65 %
Total 2.15 lb 990 g 13.6 oz

Days Two, Three, Four, and Five. Two Feedings

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Initial Mix .65 lb 300 g 4.5 oz (one-third of above) 100 %
White Flour .65 lb 300 g 4 oz (1 cup) 100 %
Water .39 lb 180 g 2.4 oz (less than cup) 60 %
Total 1.69 lb 780 g 10.9 oz

Method

Day One. Initial Mix

Mix the Ingredients Well, cover with plastic, and let stand in a warm area (75° to 80°F) for 24 hours. Medium rye can replace the whole rye, but avoid using white rye flour. The white flour should be an unbleached bread flour with 11 to 12 percent protein. Since rye flour has a higher absorption rate than white, the hydration will be 65 percent on day one. Note that from here on, it is reduced to 60 percent.

Days Two, Three, Four, and Five. Two Feedings

Mix the Ingredients Well, cover with plastic, and let stand in a warm area (75° to 80°F). Ideally, the 2 feedings should occur 12 hours apart. By day six, the culture should have enough ripeness to be used for bread production. In order to continue developing strength and complexity (heterofermentative bacteria), however, it may be fed for 2 or 3 more days before beginning to use it. In that case, follow the same feeding schedule as for days two, three, four, and five.