The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Liquid Levain - How do I know its ready?

jennyloh's picture

Liquid Levain - How do I know its ready?

I'm wondering if anyone can proivde me insight as to how do I know if my levain is ready?  I'm trying to make Vermont Soudough by Jeffrey Hamelman.  My kitchen is measuring 28 degree celsius.  Much higher than the recommended temperature.  The levain looks healthy and bubbly. It's been in my closed cool oven (not on) for the past 6 hours.

RobynNZ's picture

Hi Jenny

Take a look on pages 147 and 148 for Hamelman's Production Notes for the Formulas in the Levain Breads  Chapter, in which he covers preparing the levain culture. Your description seems to match his....are you willing to taste it as he suggests?

He does give some suggestions for slowing cultures under hot conditions if it isn't practical to bake so few hours after final build, but he doesn't say don't use it if you think it's ready even if it is only after 6 hours.

For liquid culture I look for the slightest 'receding of the tide' and a slight rippling in the centre to indicate peak. 

Cheers, Robyn

jennyloh's picture

Robyn - thanks.  how can I miss all these write ups in the book?  Obviously I have not studied the book well....ooops...I'm going to check it out now,  almost 8 hours...thanks again for the quick reply.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

From my own experiences here in Kansas, I can agree with you that summertime starters are different. My build-ups are particularly strong, tripling or even quaddrupling in size at peak in six hours. Bulk ferments are a puzzle at the present, going so quickly that I find myself doing stretch and folds every 30-35 minutes, instead of every 50 minutes, just to attempt to prevent an out of control fermentation. Proofing is fun too because the loaf needs frequent monitoring to insure that the loaf doesn't overproof. Using the refrigerator to retard the loaf doesn't work quite the same in June as the loaf seems to have a will of its own. This is all happening in a house kept at 77-80F through central air conditioning.

It's certainly a learning experience and I admit that I'm enjoying it.