The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mature Culture, and when to build the Levain, as well as other questions

Born2Bake's picture

Mature Culture, and when to build the Levain, as well as other questions

I know to use a culture that rises and falls predictably after feedings.. I understand that much, however. When a recipe calls for the use of a "Mature Culture" to build your levain does it mean...

A)  Use the culture at the deflated unfead state to build your Levain that sits for 12-16 hrs.
B) Use a culture that has been fed, built up until it is at its peak height and would float on water- use that to make your levain that will then sit for 12-16 hours.

Right now I'm keeping a 100% hydration starter that I keep at about 70-72 degrees. I'm currently discarding about 80% of it and then feeding it once daily. Using 70 degree water and the temp of the starter is at 72 after the feed. Flour being 45% unbleached white 45% whole wheat and 10% whole rye.

From what I understand this should take about 2-4 hours to be at peak height "young levain" status, and then start to fall. This is not happening for me. I will feed it at 2pm and  when I wake up in the next morning at 6am it is at its peak high point and has not started to fall. Smells slightly sweet and yeasty as well as ripe fruit. Only after a few more hours it begins to fall Why is this? - I'm trying to wrap my head around the young levain concept.

 Any help/feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Nickisafoodie's picture
  1. use it at stage B) - peak development
  2. 100% is easy re hydration, just checking to make sure you are doing it by weight, not volume
  3. peak is more like 5-8 hours depending on mix of flour.  100% rye will be on the shorter end (mine peaks at 5 hours), followed by WW, and slowest white flour.  Could go up to 8 or more if all white, type of flour, etc, so pay attention to peak develpment/float test. 
  4. discard only 50%, otherwise you are not leaving enough active critters to repopulate the new addition of flour/water.
  5. in maintanence mode leave it out for an hour or two before storing in refrigerator (assuming you are at your 72 temp, feed weekly.  in the oven with light on is a nice temp, you may need to crack the door slightly depending on your oven.  I found a $30 infrared themometer, just point and pull the trigger for an instant temp read.  Very handy device!!
  6. you only need a few tablespoons of starter while in maintanance mode.  the day before baking, give it two feeds 5/6 hours apart, then you can build up to what you need for the recipe.

hope this helps...

Born2Bake's picture

I really appreciate your time and knowledge!

Yes I do all of my measuring by weight. So if I were to do a 50% discard feed it should be ready at about 4 hours?

Is there any advantage flavor/texture/spring if it were to rise in 15-16 hours and it be at high peak point, then build the levain and let it mature 15-16 hours? Pull more flavor out of the grain?

Would this create a larger population of acetic acid? Instead the smooth desierd yougurt like lactic acid?

Thank you!