The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What is the difference between a levain and a starter

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Franchiello's picture
Franchiello

What is the difference between a levain and a starter

I'm getting sort of confused about this.  I used a packet of French Lalavaine "starter" from KAF to make a whole bunch of levain, made some bread and gave about 4 cups of it to a friend.  I have about 4 cups left sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be turned into bread this coming weekend.  Can this be considered a starter?  It's got a nice tang, gets bubbly and expands when warm and I would like to keep it going because the bread tastes so good. 


I also have some of the Carl's 1847 Sourdough starter working too, it didn't start off as being very tangy, but I gave it about 2 tbs of rye flour and it took off and has a very lovely tang to it.  This is something I recognize as starter, but I'm not so sure about the levain mixture.  I'm drying out a bunch of the levain to use like the KAF recipe did (1/4 tsp levain to 3/4 cup water and 2 cups flour) - my "mad scientist" experiments continue, but I would appreciate some advice or even a good scolding if I deserve it!! :)

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

Levain is just the french term for starter, the powdered mixes from KA are most likely just laboratory cultured and powdered starter. You could probably get away with feeding it like a regular starter and using it in normal recipes now, but the character might change over time.

Franchiello's picture
Franchiello

That is good hear,  being a bread baking newbie I was afraid I was going to poison myself or someone else by treating the levaine as a starter.  If the character changes, I hope it's for the best - I did switch from European style flour to AP flour, maybe I'll go back and see if the nutty sour tang is still noticeable.