The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Levain or Leaven

Janetcook's picture

Levain or Leaven

I know I have read the difference between 'levain' and 'leaven' but now I can't find where I read it and I can't remember what distinguishes one from the other - or if they are one and the same...

So does anyone know the definitions of each of these words?  If so, will you be so kind as to refresh my memory with a definition of each?



Mebake's picture

Levain is the french term for leaven, both which mean sourdough culture.

thomaschacon75's picture


     language. French

          part of speech. noun

          gender. masculine; le levain, les levains

          definition. (Eng.) a sourdough culture

               "Ce levain est trop vieux." (Eng.) "This sourdough culture is too old."


     language. English

     part of speech. noun and (transitive) verb

          noun. Any agent used to make dough rise or to have a similar effect on baked goods.

               "A sourdough starter is also known as a leaven."

          verb. To cause to rise by fermentation, to add a leavening agent.

               "Pancakes can be leavened by sourdough or chemical leaveners, like baking soda."

              "My sourdough starter is acting strange. It won't leaven my bread. I might have to sin and resort to a physical leavener, like an air compressor."

Janetcook's picture

Thank you Khalid and Thomaschacon for clearing up my confusion.  :-)

Take Care,