The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do I make Liquid levain for the Kayser Monge recipe?

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

How do I make Liquid levain for the Kayser Monge recipe?

How do I make liquid levain for the Kayser Monge baguette recipe?  Will it keep, or do I have to make it a day or two before it is used?  I'm a newbee, so, please be easy.  Thanks for any help.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Do you already have an active sourdough starter? If so, you feed it with a mix of water and flour to make a thin batter consistency. If you are familiar with baker's math, you want a 100-125% hydration starter.


If you don't have a starter already, you need to buy one or make one. Search TFL on "sourdough starter" or look at the Handbook chapter on this subject.


David

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

Follow-up:  Does liquid levain = sourdough starter?  Will bread made with liquid levain be sourdough?  I don't remember the Monge baguettes tasting like sourdough.  Thanks for your help.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

"Levain" is the french term for sourdough starter. They have other names for it at different stages as it is prepared to mix into the final dough, but that's TMI.


"Liquid levain" is a sourdough starter which is wetter than a "firm" levain. It would have more water than flour, by weight. 1.25 times the flour weight would be common.


Sourdough/Levain can be imperceptibly "sour" or mouth puckeringly sour. If you know what makes the bacteria make more acid or less and which kind of acid (lactic or acetic), it's all your choice.


David

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

Thank you for the clarification.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I was lucky enough to attend a hands-on seminar taught by Eric Kayser at SFBI some 12 years ago.  Eric uses liquid levain -- usually 100% hydration with French flour -- not just to create pain au levain (which is sourdough), but also to give baguettes or other non-sour breads more acidity. 


He leavens the bread primarily with manufactured yeast, but he pre-ferments anywhere from 8 to 10% of the formula's total flour in the liquid levain, which brings the dough to maturation in only 90-120 minutes.  The baguette is not sour at all, but there is a very complex flavor that has tiny notes of acidity in the background.  This isn't the most common way to make baguettes in France, but it creates (IMHO) the most complex flavor profile.  That isn't to say it is the "best" way -- there are at least half a dozen ways to make very good baguettes -- but all of the methods have had their proponents, and this was just my favorite.  If you're already keeping a sour culture around, there is no inconvenience at all.


Liquid levain is also high in the enzyme protease, which makes doughs more extensible, just as poolish does.


--Dan DiMuzio

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks, Dan, for this excellent post. I'm now keeping a file of your posts for reference.


--Pamela

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

I apologize for the newbie questions, but, it seems like I'm learning a new language.  Exactly, what does "pre-ferments anywhere from 8 to 10% of the formula's total flour in the liquid levain" mean.  I know what 8-10% of the total flour means, but how does one pre-ferment it?  "in the liquid levain"?  What is involved?  I really would like to learn how to make Monge Baguettes.  TIA.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Read this for a very brief introduction to "Baker's Math."


http://tfl.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/baker039s-math


So, if you are using a poolish, which is 100% hydration, that means 50% of its weight is flour and 50% is water.


If your recipe has a total weight of flour of 500 gms, and if 10% of the total flour is in the poolish, then 50 gms of flour or 100 gms of poolish should be used.


Clear?


David

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

Maybe - take 100 gms of liquid levain (the amount called for by the recipe), add 10% of the 500 grams of total flour called for by the recipe (50 grams) to the liquid levain.  Let it sit for some period of time (maybe overnight) and then add the rest of the recipe ingredients and proceed.  Is my understanding correct?  Thanks.


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

In the first place, you are not adding any water. Second, if you just forgot to add it and meant to also add 50 gms of water, your levain feeding would be at a 2:1:1 ratio (levain:water:flour). That would be a bit stingy on the rations.


A levain feeding would more typically be 1:2:2 for a 100% hydration starter, or a 1:2.5:2 ratio for a 125% hydration, liquid levain. (For example, 20 gms of starter, 50 gms of water and 40 gms of flour.)


Third, if you are planning to use it in a dough as soon as it is ready, you need to know how to tell when it is ready. This is judged by it's appearance, not by the elapsed time (although these are, of course, related).


You want to use your levain, if possible, at its very peak of healthy activity. In a liquid levain, this is judged by modest expansion in volume and, especially, a profusion of bubbles throughout the levain which are visibly rising, breaking the surface and popping. If you don't see this bubble action to at least some extent, the levain is probably not ripe. If the levain has clearly expanded then shrunk in volume (You can see a "high water mark" above the surface of the levain on the bowl walls.), it is over-fermented.


Now, it isn't the end of the Earth if you fail to use your levain within 15 seconds of its moment of perfection. You have quite a bit of wiggle room, but you should have a concept of what the perfect moment looks like and the meanings of deviations from this appearance.


Clearer or just muddier?


David

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

I have a lot to learn - for this segment of learning, I'm just trying to understand what is meant by "he pre-ferments anywhere from 8 to 10% of the formula's total flour in the liquid levain".  Thanks.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr


I'm just trying to understand what is meant by "he pre-ferments anywhere from 8 to 10% of the formula's total flour in the liquid levain". 



What I meant was that, if you look at the formula for a straight dough baguette, Eric would use enough liquid levain to provide 8-10% of the total flour called for in the formula.  If the straight version of a baguette dough had:



  • 1000g bread flour

  • 680g water

  • 20g salt

  • 10g yeast


he would then displace perhaps 10% of that fresh flour with the flour in his liquid levain, to get this:



  • 900g bread flour

  • 580g water

  • 20g salt

  • 10g yeast

  • 200g liquid levain


The new, lower flour quantity reflects the 100g (10% of 1000g) of flour contributed by the liquid levain, and the new, lower water quantity reflects the 100g of water that is contributed by the liquid levain.  The overall hydration of the dough is the same as it was in the straight dough formula, even though the enzymes in the liquid levain will make the dough seem wetter than it was in the first instance.  The total weight of the batch remains the same as well.


Jeffrey Hamelman and Michel Suas have books that explain the reasoning behind the mathematics very well.  Hope that helps.


Dan DiMuzio

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

Thank you very much.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Where did you find this recipe?  I'd be interested in taking a look at it.

xaipete's picture
xaipete
dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Thanks for the reference!


--Dan

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Dan.


Please note that the recipe in question is not the one in the first message in that thread, which is for Daniel Leader's pain à l'ancienne. The one for baguettes monge is down lower in a message from janedo.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I loved Janedo's photo's of this recipe and I have attempted it and it turned out very nice..not as nice as Jane's..different flours here too..I really like this recipe and as Jane suggests adding a little more hydration makes it even nicer!  A photo is at the bottom of the page on Jane's blog here on TFL.  I'd put it in but dinner is waiting for me!


Sylvia

Ritmo Caliente's picture
Ritmo Caliente

Hello :) so is Liquid Levain just FLOUR and WATER fermented for 12hours(or more)?

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Ritmo,


"Levain" is really just the French term for a sourdough starter.


"Liquid levain" is the version that has at least as much water as it does flour in its composition -- which translates to a 100% hydration.  With North American bread flours, it sometimes has more water than flour, as these flours can be so strong that, even at 100% hydration, they might not make a very liquid-like pre-ferment.


Jeffrey Hamelman, for instance, uses 25% more water than flour in his liquid levain, to achieve a 125% hydration.


--Dan DiMuzio

Ritmo Caliente's picture
Ritmo Caliente

Thanks very much Mr. Dan DiMuzio :) I just got your book recently and I must say that its one of the BEST bread books :) Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge on bread making thru your book...it provided me answers to mysteries involved in making breads :)


Im asking about liquid levain coz I wanna try some of the formulas in your book, especially the ones involving the use of liquid levain as pre-ferment.  In your liquid levain formula, you have flour, water and RIPE LEVAIN.  What is RIPE LEVAIN? Im quite confused about it.  Is it a vital ingredient in making your liquid levain pre ferment in the formulas? It doesnt reflect in the 'ADJUSTED DOUGH' portion. Please shed some light on this subject...and please forgive my ignorance :) Thanks again :)

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi again Ritmo,


I'm glad that the book has found some use for you.  I would still recommend that you get J. Hamelman's book as well.  It's a much more fun read, and Jeffrey has a knack for making sophisticated baking techniques seem approachable, without ever over-simplifying the material.


Anyway, the "ripe levain" referred to is an already existing sourdough starter, which, for purposes of simplicity, the formula assumes you have on hand.  If you don't have one on hand, there are directions in Chapter 5 that will illustrate how to start one -- it takes about 10 to 14 days.  Debra Wink has a unique way of getting one going that might save a few days for you -- you can search for it here at TFL.  The advantages or disadvantages of using a liquid or firm levain -- or any other pre-ferment -- are explained in Chapter 5 of the book you refer to.


If you use the method that I describe, pay very strict attention to all the details of creating a new levain -- I'm not saying it can't be done any other way (of course it can), but the timelines I suggest and so on will have no relevance if you vary from the recommended feeding proportions, feeding intervals, or feeding temperatures.


I will tell you, in case you didn't already realize this, that many of the formulas in the appendix (toward the back of the book) assume that the student reader has already read the relevant chapters in the text which supply the background you might need to understand them.  If you skip ahead and just try the formulas "cold turkey", then you may run into puzzling situations.


I don't know what your experience level is, and I don't want to discourage you, but I want to be certain you take the boring parts of the book seriously as a foundation for understanding the much more fun parts.


So, for instance, reading chapter 5 is key to understanding the important aspects of using pre-ferments, as well as why we even bother to use them.  And when a formula tells you to choose between this or that mixing method, you probably must have read chapter 4 to even know what that means.


I hope that answers your question.


--Dan DiMuzio


 

Ritmo Caliente's picture
Ritmo Caliente

Hi Mr. DiMuzio :)


Thanks soo much for the reply :) Now I can ( I think) try out some of the formulas in your book. I'm really glad it  reached our shores, and honestly I dont find it boring. I find it very informative...actually im already in Advance Topic #1...I also go back to some of the chapters for review.


I still consider myself as a beginner...i just started bread baking last March.  I took a short course on Artisan Breads in one of the culinary schools here in our country, and ever since then I ve been baking almost everyday :) I also attended  seminars and demos, but I havent attended a class or course that discussed the things that you wrote in your book. Before I bought it, I previewed it first. When I read into some parts of chapters, I said to myself -- ' these are the things I wana/need to know about bread baking'...so without hesitation I got right away :) For me its a really good investment :) I'll also try to get J.Hammelman's book that you recommended. I  just hope its available here...my teacher also recommended 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice'


 The term RIPE LEVAIN was new to me, and thank you again for explaining what it is. Hopefully soon I can post pix here of breads using your formulas. More power to you :) Good Day! :)


 


 


 


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr


 I'm really glad it  reached our shores,



Hey Ritmo,


Where are your "shores"?   Michigan?  Mauritania?  I checked your profile data but I didn't find any biographical info.


--Dan DiMuzio

Ritmo Caliente's picture
Ritmo Caliente

Sir Dan :) Im from the Philippines...in Manila to be exact :)