The Fresh Loaf

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Tartine Levain Rise Time

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Lulabelle's picture
Lulabelle

Tartine Levain Rise Time

Hi everyone! I've been visiting this great site for some time now and have found many answers to my baking questions. I do have a question regarding the rise time for the levain in the Tartine book.  I am quite comfortable with yeasted breads and this is my first foray into naturally leavened breads. I followed the technique in the book for making the levain- mix the starter with water and flour and allow to rise overnight before using. I thenfound a link on here to a Master Class Chad had given. He states that he uses the levain very young, 1-2 hours after mixing it. I'm just curious if any of you use the levain at such a young stage. Am I correct in assuming that as long as the float test is successful,the levain can be used any time?

Thanks- Dawn

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

My Tartine levain takes about 8 hours to pass the float test on a warm summer day. I have seen the video and I can't imagine how it could pass a float test in such a short time.

Dawn, is your levain floating after a couple of hours?

My opinion on your question is yes, if if floats it's ready. Don't know, however, if it follows that it's not ready if it sinks.

Since a long levain fermentation fits my bake schedule, I haven't tried young levain. I'm curious, though. Let us know if you try it.

Les

dylemma's picture
dylemma

It all depends on how much starter you use in building the levain.  In the book, I believe you inoculate the flour and water with about 5% for the overnight.  If you inoculate it at 20% it should be ready in about 2-3 hours depending on what the water temperature you use and the strength of your starter.   

My guess on the the float test is this.  If it floats you have enough yeast activity going on to move on.  If it sinks, there may not be enough activity going on to withstand the addition of salt, which will slow it down and will take for ever to get going.  

Lulabelle's picture
Lulabelle

Thank you both for your responses. I have just baked my first SD loaves yesterday. I'm happy to report they were a success! I think for now I will continue to follow the technique in the book and once I feel confident with that, I'll begin to experiment  with the starter ratio.  Thanks again!

holds99's picture
holds99

I've seen Chad Robertson's video where he says he uses "young levain".  I'm  guessing that Chad Robertson is using a very active starter that bakeries keep active and feed frequently, on a daily basis.  This may account for why he only has to wait 2-3 hours.  If you're using a starter from the fridge that hasn't been recently refreshed, my experience is that  it's going to take a lot longer than 2 hours to get a levain build that's active enough to perform properly.

FWIW, Assuming 30% levain in the final dough mix, I have had good success doing a double levain build (100% hydration) using a small amount of active starter (a tablespoon) from the fridge with warm water.  The first build takes approximately 12 hours (overnight) at a room temp. (at approximately 75 deg. F).  The second build, the following morning, using the same 100% hydration as the first,  takes 2-3 hours.  The second build, in its entirety, goes into the final dough mix.  Then, autolyse for  half an hour, followed by final dough mix  adding the salt midway through the final dough mix, followed by bulk fermentation, where the stretch and folds take place at 20-30 minute intervals.  

 

 

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

@holds99

I suppose the first "build" is equal parts (by weight) of flour and water, with (as you mention) 1 Tb levain.

The second build is also equal parts (by weight) of flour and water, but what culture do you add? Do you add the first build? I'm not clear.

Thanks in advance, 

Les

holds99's picture
holds99

Hello Les,

As an example, I usually make 8 lbs. (128 oz.) of dough.  So I mix my first levain with 2 oz. of active starter + 8 oz. water + 8 oz. flour.  For the second build no starter is added.   To the first build I add the exact same amount of water and flour (8 oz water + 8 oz. flour).  This makes approximately 33 oz. of levain, which is approximately 25% of the 8 lbs. final dough mixture.  Incidentally, I usually make my hydration at 75%.  The stretch and folds at 20-30 minute intervals during bulk fermentation reduces the slack in the dough, aligns the gluten plates/strands and gives the dough elasticity and extensibility.  If you've seen the Chad Robertson video you will notice that his dough high hydration and he does his turning/folding at 30 minute intervals.  I don't subscribe to his 3-4 hours of bulk fermentation in the video.  I have found that with 3 hours the dough over proofs during retardation and you lose some gas when you score the loaves before they go into the oven which results in not getting a good oven spring during the first 10-12 minutes.

If you haven't seen Robertson's Master Class video here's a link:

.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIIjV6s-0cA

Hope my explanation is understandable.

Howard 

 

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

Thanks for the detailed explanation, Howard. Your explanation prompts one further question though...

Are you doing a second build:

1. in order to develop sufficient volume of levain for 8lb of (final build) dough? or

2. because there's some flavour enhancement or other benefit to doing 2 levain builds?

(I'm familiar with the video, I've replayed it many times to try to "get" the incredibly dextrous pre-shaping that he does in there! Wish YouTube had a slo-mo feature.)

Thanks in advance

Les

holds99's picture
holds99

Les,

I do the second build to get the wild yeast really active.  You will note that the first build takes approximately 12 hours, while the second build takes about 2-3 hours.  That, I believe, is because the yeast are multiplying more rapidly during the second build and the levain is becoming very active, which is what you want, a highly active levain.  Incidentally, the second build time (2-3 hours) is about the same amount of time that Roberson says he allows for his "young" levain build.  This leads me to believe that he's building his levain from an already primed active levain or starter source.  

Re: the video: No question about it, Roberson is a true artisan in every sense of the word.  He performs absolute magic with water, flour, leaven and salt.

Hope my explanation/theory makes sense.

Howard

 

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

In fact this was so interesting to me, I am trying a two-build levain right now!

Howard both you and (earlier on this thread) dylemma have brought my attention to "hypercharging" the levain culture, you by the two-build method and dylemma with a single build but using higher starter innoculation ratio.

I wonder if you have any thoughts about the different approaches?

many thanks for sharing your insight

Les

holds99's picture
holds99

Les,

First, I think either method is fine.  For me, the reason I use the double build is, after a lot of experimenting it works consistently well for me.  The other reason is because I don't want to maintain a large supply of sourdough starter.  I usually keep two starters, one rye flour, the other white flour.  I keep about a half cup of each.  For me It boils down to economy.  I don't want a large amount of discard when refreshing my starters. 

Please let me know how the double build turns out.  Hope it results in a nice active "supercharged" levain for you.

Howard

 

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

Well the vigour of the second levain build took me a bit by surprise. Shouldn't have, I know, I had been briefed.

The oven spring, and the crumb of resulting loaf, however, is about what I have been getting with a single build. It's pretty good, but you know how we're always trying for better? Well I thought a more vigorous levain would give me some more spring and some big air in the crumb.

One possible reason is that I may have missed the peak levain activity while working outside for a couple of hours.

But we're all incurable experimenters, aren't we, and I have learned some new ways to enliven my levain.

Thanks for your help, Howard, and for your comment, Sylvia.

holds99's picture
holds99

If you allow the second build to become greater than double in volume, I think the yeast activity begins to diminish and begin losing some of its potency.  I always mark a line (rubber band, Post It note, etc.) on the outside of my container after mixing the second build, so I can see when it has doubled in volume.  At the point where it has doubled in volume I proceed with the final dough mix.  Anyway, as you well know, there's lots of factors that affect the outcome of the final loaf.

At the end of the day, so to speak, use what works best for you: single build, double build (Girard Ribaud, the master baker featured on one of Marie Claire's (MC's) FARINE site uses a triple build.  That's what makes baking so interesting, bakers using different methods to achieve the desired result.   

holds99's picture
holds99

Here's a link to a recent post by bsandusky re: Girard Ribaud's three state build:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/34462/g%C3%A9rard-rubauds-3-stage-levain-sourdough

Davo's picture
Davo

There is another factor at play here - ratio. Your first build has 2 oz out of 18 oz being active starter (1/9). the second build has 18 oz out of 34 oz being active (slightly > 1/2). Even if they were equally active (which they may not be) it would only be natural for the second build to take a whole lot less time than the first build....

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

using Howard's double build. 

My reason's... same as Howard's!  Consistency and economy.  Also, very convienient : )

Sylvia 

holds99's picture
holds99

Thanks for commenting.  After seeing all the great bread and food that come out of your wood fired oven you have inspired me to build a wood fired oven.  Within the next year we're going to build a new house on an acre and I'm planning on building a wood fired oven in the back yard.  When I get started I'll let you know how the project is proceeding.  Hope all is well on your end.

Best wishes,

Howard

rod's picture
rod

Hi Lulabelle,

I have baked this bread nearly every week for two years.  Here is a formula you might try.    As you can see there is more ripe levain used with each successive build.

Levain

Mother

 Chef

 Levain

Ingredients

 

 

 

AP flour

50

200           

200

WW Flour

50

50

50

Water

100

200

200

Ripe levain:

20

50

125

Total

220

500

575

% Hydration

100%

80%

80%

Then get ready and put your seatbelt on because you will have rapidly developing levain which is very active at two hours at 78-80 degrees.  If you want to take it to another level then use this levain as follows: 

 

Final Dough

 

Ingredients

Wt (g)

Organic AP Flour (Type 55)

660(90%)

Organic WW

40(10%)

Levain

540(30%)

Water

540(78%)

Salt

22(2.2%)

Total

 

 

1840

 

 

I retard the proof stage in a 40 degree refrigerator for 12 hours.  It will develop more at 50 degree.

Good luck,

Rod

Red5's picture
Red5

Quote:
He states that he uses the levain very young, 1-2 hours after mixing it. I'm just curious if any of you use the levain at such a young stage.

Yes, at 2 hours. 

 

Quote:
Am I correct in assuming that as long as the float test is successful,the levain can be used any time?

Yes, but the levain doesn't actually have to pass a float test to work. If your going by the timings given in the Tartine book, then the float test is useful. If you use it before it floats, your bulk time will be longer. If it floats and you just wait longer, it'll affect the flavor - whether that is good or bad is up to you. 

Lulabelle's picture
Lulabelle

Thanks, Rod! One question, how much time do you typically have between builds?  I'm looking forward to trying this!

rod's picture
rod

Ferment Chef 4-5 hours, Ferment Levain 2-3 hours.  Typically the levain has doubled in volume by two hours.  The Chef will develop a bubbled creased surface when ready.  The levain will be full of gas bubbles which you can see if using a plastic translucent container.  You will need to be around checking on the levain.  I have on a few occasions returned after three hours to see the levain overflowing the container.  Keep it warm 75-78 degrees.  An alternative to the float test is dropping the levain container sharply on the counter, it should collapse considerably.

This is just one option for this bread.  Following his recipe in the book will develop the desirable levain but it just takes longer.  I grind my own whole wheat when making the Tartine levain and likely develops more activity with more yeast being present on fresh wheat berries.

The best advice is just to stay with it and with repeated experience (i.e. learning from your mistakes) you will recognize when the levain is ready and when you have completed a bulk fermentation.

Good luck,

Rod

 

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

that quote from the video reinforced something that stuck out in the book: CR has the levain sit overnight for the basic recipe, while in his discussion of levains he says there are two basic elements to remember about his approach:

1. use a mature starter

2. use a young levain

I have what is a relatively crazy starter (in my experience) which I can refresh and set out overnight, and use it to get a levain that passes the float test in 2-3 hours the next morning...that seems more in line with with these principles, and his quote from the video

loualvin1's picture
loualvin1

Hi Folks.  I just got the Tartine Book No 3 by Chad Robertson and am trying to figure out how to maintain the starter/Leaven--pages 34-35.  After I have made the Leaven, I'm confused as to how to maintain it.  Do I feed daily as with the starter instructions--i.e., 75 grams of starter, 150 grams of flour and 150 grams of water daily?  Or, do I feed daily as with the Leaven--i.e., one tablespoon of the leaven and 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour?  Which one of these do I follow?

Can anyone help me with this?

Thanks,

Lou