The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Levain as Desert [redo]

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Levain as Desert [redo]

Originally, this was a comment in the thread:Levain as Desert


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20693/culturing-growing-and-baking-range-wild-yeasts


However, I now find that I cannot find such "comments" very easily, and I just spent a too much time finding this, and another "comment", both of which should have been done as a blog, if for no other reason than to be able to reference them, when needed.


=== The original follows with no chages for the previous  entry. ===110423


On a daily basis, I have my levain discard as a Desert, and love it. As for how I made it originally, that is well explained in the Banana Saga: Link   http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20460/


But, since then I have discovered it is very simple to make, and maintain, Banana Levain - assuming that you have a Cuisinart SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, and if you do not then any blender could serve, but it will mean a bit more mess and work for you to do so.
 
Let us start from scratch: buy at lease 5 or 6 bananas. The best ones are those you would choose to eat, the poorest are those you would put in a banana quick bread. Take a one quart plastic  round container that has a lid, and then peel and slice the bananas crosswise, making round pieces, about 3 to 4 mm thick slices. Place the slices in the container, place the lid on it, and put the container with its sliced contents in the freezer or ice compartment until frozen solid - I do it for 24 hours. Next, remove the container from the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw, where they can remain until you want them. I usually let them have a couple of days, or longer to thaw slowly. They can remain thus for an extended period until you need to use them for refreshing an existing levain, or creating a new one. Freezing them does nothing to the flavor, but it weakens, or destroys most of the cell walls and fibrous parts of the banana. When I need a fresh batch to use for refreshing the levain, I first need to puree the once frozen slices. I use the Cuisinart SmartStick to puree the thawed banana slices directly in their plastic container in less than a minutes.



That puree is a great treat all by itself. If the bananas were still frozen, it makes an ice cream of pure banana, as well. Of course, I prefer it as a levain with a snappy bite to it.



To start a pure banana levain, simply take a small amount - I use 25g - of the puree and add a 1/4 tsp of ANY yeast water, or liquid sourdough starter. I have a yogurt maker that came with 7, 5oz. glasses with individual plastic caps. I use one of these, and blend the "seed" into the puree using a small battery powered hand whisk.



The powered whisk came with two tips - a normal whisk and a small tip called a drink foam-maker, or "foamer". The end of the foam-maker came with a spring coiled on its loop. The spring can be removed. If left in place it catches small fibrous parts and can be a pain to clean. I prefer it without the coiled spring.



I use this battery powered hand mixer to blend the seed with the puree banana refresh for the levain to get a more uniform rise from the levain.


Once a smooth mix is obtained, I smack the bottom of the glass once or twice to more or less level the surface. Then I add a rubber band as a visual indicator of the starting level of the levain. Then snap the lid on the glass.


From time to time I check back to see the growth progress.



I was using 5g seed and 25g refreshment, but the banana levain can become feisty, and on one occasion, it rose over 5 fold and blew the lid off - ejecting banana levain in a mild mess. So, after that, I have limited the total amount to 25g (5g seed and 20g refreshment).


Currently, with an ambient temperature around 70ºF/21ºC, I find it has tripled (or better) overnight, and once again before I am ready to retire. So, when I check and find the glass rather full, I remove the cap and place a clean glass on the digital scale. Then I transfer a 5g seed from the finish batch into the new start of the next feeding.



Of course, once the 5g seed has been "planted" for the next cycle, the remaining 20g is now discarded into my oral compactor. (+^_^+).



And thus, I have come full cycle. I go to the fridge and get the container of banana puree and feed 20g of the puree as the refresh to the levain and another snack starts to grow.



Ron

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I see you have an advanced case of CBS :-D.  Think I will stick to plain frozen pureed bananas...


I have made note and, since I do have a surplus of frozen bananas on hand, will see if I can use some of them to feed my yeast leaven once it gets up and running and once I have figured out how to advance to the next step.


I dare not look at the next step yet as my poor brain goes into shock with being subjected to learning yet another bread 'technique'.  Can only handle one thing at a time!


Janet

RonRay's picture
RonRay

It is all just a bunch of wild wee bonnie beasties. They just prefer different houses. ;-)


Ron


 

Syd's picture
Syd

That's neat, Ron.  I like the 'elastic band around the levain container to mark the level trick'. Now why didn't I think of that?!!  I have seen those battery powered whisks at IKEA.  It looks handy.


Happy Easter,


Syd

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Thank you, Syd, for your comments. I find the little whisk very useful for small task, like this one. It is right there in a drawer, ready to go, and very easy to clean and put bake in the drawer. Amazon, also has several types to choose from, as well as many other location online.


Have a great day,


Ron

kim's picture
kim

Hi Ron,


I have the same hand stick blender and scale as shown in picture for the past 5 years now. I love them both. Your banana levain is very strong; I’m out to buy some bananas now. I want to bake your sourdough cracker but by using banana levain instead. The crackers will be coated/dipped into chocolate after bake. Thanks.


Kimmy

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Thanks, Kimmy-


Yes, both are very good... The stick blender is the most effective one I have ever seen. As for the scale. I had a Cuisinart, which was excellent - except, it drove me up the wall with its short auto turn-off, I gave it away after getting this scale which gives a very nice long period before turning off.  I do not think it has ever shutoff in the middle of a measurement, and the Cuisinart did it every time I turned around :(


I did find that I needed a second scale, however, for the small quantities - like 1.6g salt, etc. and I bought a "Blade" scale which does the job well.


Your intended crackers sound great. Please let us know how they come out ;-)


Ron

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Okay, I have have been bitten....What kind of whisk is yours?  I just looked on Amazon and they have a wide variety with lots of pros and cons....Yours doesn't look like any I saw with a white handle...


So, if you would be so kind as to share the name and approx cost my itching will stop.  :-)


 


I too found a great little scale - My Weigh 440-Z - that I use for small quantities. A very handy little scale that fits nicely in my drawer.  I also have a small size Escali for measuring my starter feeds and a larger Escali to use when it comes to measuring grains and water etc. for my final doughs....


:-)


 

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Well, a friend was looking for one, and found it on QVC. It was less that $10, but I do not remember how much. I bought 2 of them (came with batteries even). This was well over a year ago. The second unit has never even been opened :-) The carton says:
"QVC, Inc. Prepology Battery Operated Bionic Whisk Made in China" A bar code on the box is "K25116 202000"


Checking Google, got me to a $17.75 price - reduced to $7.82 at:
http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail/params.item.K25116.desc.Prepology-Battery-Operated-Bionic-Whisk?&cookie=set
Unfortunately, it also has "We're sorry, the Prepology Battery Operated Bionic Whisk is no longer available."


Also, this link shows an awful lot of types to choose from:
http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/battery-operated-whisk.html


That is the best I can do to help,
Ron


 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

When something works well it gets replaced with something that doesn't :-D


I live near a Bed Bath and Beyond and think I will see what they have.  If it breaks they are great with returns.  


Thanks for the info.


Janet

RonRay's picture
RonRay

The small "foamer" attachment that I showed with the spring removed, seems fairly common on other units as well.


Ron

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

BBB had 3 types to choose from. The expensive, the really cheap and the in-between. 


I went for the in-between as it has a 2 year warranty. Think it is called an aerolatte but not sure.


Now I just have to wait until my fruit yeasties start doing their thing so I can do mine and I know once the foamer is out of the package I will have 2 teenagers using it to concoct all sorts of goodies for themselves......


I also 'suffer' from CCGS....compulsive 'cute' gadget syndrome....to make it into my kitchen a gadget has to be cute, not outrageously expensive and must serve at least 1 purpose...it has to be small too.  :-D  


janet

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Yes, Janet- that looks to be about the same thing. I hope it does a good job for you and your teenagers ;-)


It sounds as if you have your compulsions well in hand LOL


Ron

ww's picture
ww

dear ron,


at first I thought your post was abt using leaven to make a desert (for human consumption i.e.), following on your sourdough crackers recipe. Then i realised you were feeding the beasties ;))


i've heard of raisin and grapes leaven but banana is a first. How does it taste or smell? Banana-y? And does it impact on the taste of the baked bread?

RonRay's picture
RonRay

Sorry, ww, I forgot to link (See reply below)
Ron

RonRay's picture
RonRay

ww, indeed, it is a tasty treat, with a bit of a snap to it. However, it also works well as a levain in breads. I did an extensive posting of using it that way


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20460/banana-saga-%E9%95%B7%E7%AF%87%E6%95%85%E4%BA%8B


That posting, and the very long thread following it, deals not only with using bananas to levain breads, but the general Japanese use of Yeast Water made from many fruits that also work well as levains for breads.  Following that there is a Topic thread devoted to Yeast Water levains and how to make your own - easier to make, IMHO, than the wheat flour initial culturing of a sourdough.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20693/culturing-growing-and-baking-range-wild-yeasts


The main difference is that sourdough levain can be sour, while fresh Yeast Water levains are not, can contribute color to the loaf, and fragrance, too. It is very hard to obtain a flavor of the fruit used after having used it as a fermented levain.


Ron