June 13, 2013 - 6:38am

## Leaven, Levain question

I think I finally understand the process of building that starter into a leaven with the small amount of starter left overnight. Have had good success with Tartine and Ken Forkish types of breads. I've used the "Starter on Steroids" a couple of times in starter recipes, adjusting for the more solid mass difference.

My question is, how do I convert back into "regular" starter" with the leaven remaining after using some for a bread? Or does it matter? What I've been doing is about a 1:2:2 feeding and then considering it a starter again.

and any suggestion to the contrary is just a way to make things seem complicated enough so that people will buy the book. Just build up your starter to the amount needed to bake plus some. When not baking maintain at a smaller amount. Change hydration as needed for a particular bread. Change it back to maintenance hydration when not baking. It's all starter either way. Or levain if you prefer. -Varda

with just 10 g of starter left in the fridge and need to refresh it and build it up 100g for storage plus we want to make bread too, we just use it to make the levain for the bread. After the 2nd stage of the 3 stage build after it has doubled, we pinch off some of it .....10g ....and use that to build the starter we will eventually store in the fridge back up. The remainder of the levian gets its 3rd feeding and into the fridge for the 24 hour retard that we will make bread with the next day and the the new starter 10 g of starter gets its first stage feeding of a 3 stage build to get up to 100 g for fridge storage at 66% hydration.

Can you pls explain how I would build a stiff levain to make a 100% levain?

Let say I have 30 grms of a 100% starter, to make this into a 60% levain, I should add 30 grms of flour and 18 grms of water to get to 60% hydration. When I do a build to make a 100% levain for a bake, do I just take 10gr. of the stiff starter and add 10 grms of flour and 10 grms of water or do I need to increase the weight of the water by 40 % (e.g.10 grm stiff starter + 10g flour and 14 g water for each feed? What happens with the second and subequent feeds? Would I use equal weight of flour and water after the first feed or do I still need to increase the water for each feed? Many thanks.

Judy

Hi Judy,

If you want to convert to 60% hydration, I suggest this might work:

For your illustration, you have 30g liquid starter, which is actually made up of 15g flour and 15g water. So, if you want to add 30g of flour to this, you should only be adding 12g water to give you overall 60% hydration.

Some might argue this doesn't really matter. But as a commercial baker using considerably bigger numbers, I can assure it is important to be quite precise aobut what is actually 60% hydration. In your illustration, you are ending up with 67% hydration in your leaven, once refreshed.

Best wishes

Andy

Thank you Andy for your response . I try hard to understand the maths but it is really getting the better of me. This was what you showed me last time so I thought this is how I would calculate a 60% hydration starter. How did you arrive at 12g.? I think I had better stick with 100% to avoid calculation errors :)

Judy

Hi Judy,

Sorry my instructions on the previous post assumed you were already using a 60% hydration leaven, not looking to convert from 100% to 60% hydration.

For the calculation, all you need to do is add up the total flour in your procedure; ie. flour in the leaven and the fresh flour being added. In your scenario that is 15g plus 30g equals 45g.

Now you calculate what 60% of that is: which is 27. So the toal amount of water you need is 27g. Take off the 15g you already have added in the leaven and you are left with needing to add 12g to end up with 27g in total which givers you 60% hydration.

Don't be put off by all of this. If you can crack it it will be an invaluable tool to have in your box to continue to improve as a baker. There's a lot of support here on TFL to help you get over any maths phobia!

Best wishes

Andy

Now that we have the conversion from 100% to 60% sorted, how would I then maintain the stiff starter? I shouldn't think It would be a refresh of 30/30/12 or 40/40/16. (36g total water less 20g?) because the starter is no longer half flour half water when converted to 60%. Is this when 1:1:.6 applies? I'd like to be very sure I get my maths right before I make a switch.

I had thought bread making would be a fun hobby, I never thought I would be spending hours toiling away with numbers and getting up at 5:00 a.m. to mix my dough bread all because my starter had tripled by then!

Cheers,

Judy

Hi Judy,

Once you have converted the starter to 60%, then your "1:1:0.6" ratios will apply, if that is the proportion of fresh flour you like to add to your old stck. That works for me, as I refresh every 3-5 hours in order to build my wheat leaven.

By the way, you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks; so long as the dog is prepared to learn. In the end you know, what is most important is using a refreshment system which both works for you, and gives you the bread you like the best. Compromising on this because you are currently not able to work through the maths is surely accepting second best. Why would you do that?

All good wishes

Andy

Leaven is English.

It's actually from the latin;

levaremeaning "to raise"Andy

My # 1 priority for baking sourdoughs is flavor, mouthfeel and eye-appeal we like for each style of bread.

My # 2 priority for baking sourdoughs is consistency. I want to reliably bake essentially the same loaves (for each style) over and over again.

I've learned doing the same things--ingredients and techniques--over and over again is the a key to satisfying priority # 2.

Consequently, I treat my seed starter (the saved levain I store in the refrigerator between bakes) in the same way from bake-to-bake, and I routinely bake sourdough at least once every 7 to 10 days.

Specifics:

I keep 60g of seed starter at 100% hydration and contains only King Arthur Bread flour and water. It is replaced entirely every 7 to 10 days from excess levain I build for for baking, or fresh levain I build merely to replace my seed starter. The latter condition occurs whenever a specific baking formula requires levain containing flours other than KA Bread flour, e.g. Rye breads, Whole Wheat breads; or a hydration different than 100%: frequent but not routine happenings.

The practice of completely replacing my seed starter was suggested by Debra Wink--one of TFL's finest mentors--about a year-and-a-half ago when she helped me save a dying sourdough culture.

We've had our desired consistency bake-to-bake since beginning this practice.

I build basic formula-ready levains (all KA Bread flour, 100% hydration) in three builds evenly spaced at 8 hour intervals, feeding 2:1:1. For example, many of my sourdough formulae require 240g to 275g of basic formula-ready levain. Starting with 40g of seed starter: Build 1-40g/20g/20g, Build 2-all of build 1/40g/40g and Build 3-all of build 2/80g/80g yields 320g fresh levain after 24hours.

I feed 20g of this fresh levain 1:1:1, and store it in the refrigerator as seed starter for the next bake. The remainder is, of course, used for baking.

Note: When I make formula-ready stiff levain I also decrease the hydration by 1/3rd of the difference between 100% and the formula prescribed hydration at each build.

Happy baking

David G

I use algebra. IF I have a 60% hydration starter in the fridge that I want to use to build a 100% hydration levain by using 10 g of it, the variables are x = flour in the seed and.6x = the water in the seed since it is 60% of the flour amount.

The formula is X (Flour) +.6x (Water) = 10 g of seed so .....1.6X = 10 and dividing 10 by 1.6...x =6.25 g of flour. Subtracting this from 10 and you get 3,75g of water in the seed. So 6.25 flour and + 3.75 water = 10 g of seed

If you want to add 30 g of flour to the seed forthe build and you the levain to be 100% hydration all it takes is simple math 6.25 of flour in the seed plus 30 g of flout = 36.25 g of flour. To have a 100% hydration the water has to equal the flour amount so 36.25 g of flour - 3.75 g of water in the seed = 32.5 g of water needed for the first build to get to 100% hydration Now you have 36.25 g each of flour and water after the first build and 72.5 g total weight.

Hope this helps. What ever your seed hydration is all you have to do is remember that X = the flour and say you have a 72% hydration starter, then the water is .72X . If you add the two together you get 1.72 X for all the flour and water weight. Now say you want to use 20 g of this seed. The formula is 1.72X= 20. Divide 20 by 1,72 and you get 11.63 g of flour and subtracting this from 20 you get 8.37 g of water. What ever flour you add to the first build to get to 100 hydration say 40 g then you have 51 63 g of flour . Subtract the seed water from that 51.63 - 8.37 and you need 43.26 g of water to get a 100% hydration levain that totals 103.26 g

Hope this helps

Thank you so much for your time in typing this out. I have bookmarked this thread and I'll have to spend some time digesting this. As I said to Andy earlier, I think I had better stick to 100% hydration to avoid errors. You just can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Cheers,

Judy

Lets say you have a 100% hydration levain and you want to build a 60% hydration seed starter for the fridge that weighs 100 g . We know that the final seed will be x (flour) + .6 X (water) = 100 g or the flour will be 100 divided by 1.6 = 62.5g making the water 37.5 g to equal 100 g total.

If you start with 40 g of 100% hydration levain you have 20 g each of flour and water. So to get to 60% hydration at 100 g total, you will need to add 62.5 - 20 = 42.5 g of flour and 37.5 g - 20 = 17.5 g of water. This will give you 60% hydration at a total 100. g of starter.

Happy baking

I've cut and pasted all of your comments on paper so that I can print them out as reference notes. That way I can refer to them anytime without a computer and practise on my calculations meanwhile. I'm a very slow learner when it comes to crunching numbers. :(