The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Will using less leaven mean more time to bulk ferment?

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Will using less leaven mean more time to bulk ferment?


It seems like since summer is hear (Pennsylvania) my Tartine Country Bread is bulk fermenting (overnight) a bit too fast for me.

So my solution I am thinking is cooling down the water to around 35° and using a bit less leaven..........175 grams instead of 200 grams.

I know cooling down the water gets me more time but not sure what happens when I use a bit less leaven.

Thanks for your answers!


ssor's picture

That is only a 12.5% reduction. Since the leaven will still grow at the same rate the result will be a bit slower but not dramatically slower. The cold water and cold flour would slow things down a bit. A teaspoon of yeast will eventually leaven five pounds of flour and a tablespoon is quicker. Your leaven is just your particular culture of yeasts and a small reduction will have a small effect.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

100g  and see what happens. 

The 50g flour and 50g water (assuming a 100% hydration starter) can be added to your dough recipe ingredients so the loaf volume stays the same.   

If the fermentation is still too fast, reduce leaven in half again to 50g starter.  (adding 75g each flour and water to the dough recipe)

vavo's picture

In the bakery I am working we are always adjusting the amount of mature culture in a starter depending on the weather, it can range from 20% to only 5% within one week. I have never done it in a dough but I assume it should work the same way. When using 35 degree water I would make sure to mix water and flour first and then add the Levain (starter) since that is very cold for the yeast (same when you use water over 90 degrees).

It is also worth scouting in your home for places with different temparatures and maybe you find somewhere a little cooler (basement, bathroom etc...).

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Yes, I keep a digital thermometer with my starter and the coolest place I found was in the basement under the steps (68°)