The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Refreshing Levain

namadeus's picture

Refreshing Levain


I am looking for help and advise on refreshing and keeping a Levain going. Having made the Levain from the chef and baked 3 x Pain du Levain i now have approx 500gms Levain which I have kept in the fridge for a week. I refreshed it with 125gms water and 175gms flour on Wednesday and again today being Saturday.


Is this still a Levain ? Or is it now some type of hybrid Chef ?

Thoughts and experience would be greatly appreciated.



holds99's picture

A ripe, regularly refreshed starter is what you keep in your refrigerator.  The ripe starter is used to make a levain.  I make a levain-build that uses a tablespoon of starter to build an overnight levain that  makes up 25-30% of the final dough mixture.  Your levain should be approximately doubled and somewhat airy/bubbly when you mix the final dough water into the levain mixture, before progressing to the final dough mixing process, where you add the final dough flour.  Dont add the salt to the final dough mix until the final dough mixture has autolysed (rested) for 30 minutes.  Then add the salt and mix for 5-8 minutes on medium low mixer speed (stand mixer, I use a DLX).  After mixing the final dough, on a work surface, give it 2-3 stretch and folds, (returning it to a lightly oiled container after each stretch and fold).  Do you stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals before placing it back into the lightly oiled container, cover and proceed with bulk fermentation until the dough has nearly doubled in volume.  After bulk fermentation (approximately 2-3 hours) you are ready to divide and shape your loaf/loaves.

Start each bread baking formula with a fresh levain-build.  I wouldn't advise keeping a levain in the fridge for a week as the yeast will have depleted their food source and the levain will not be as active as it needs to be for baking.

Edit: Chad Robertson's excellent book Tartine Bread has a thorough explanation of the process on pages 45-69.