The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

clueless of next levain step

babybirdbreads's picture

clueless of next levain step

I am about to make my first batch of vermont sourdough. 

i am struggling a bit with the concept of perpetuating the levain.  i used all but 2 tablespoons as instructed...but now i am stuck.  How much do i feed this leftover levain?  do i keep it in the fridge or  in a warm place?  do i feed twice a day?  once a day? 

i realize its probably an easier answer...but i am lacking it.

any help.  thanks.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

to feed by weight since you write in tablespoon measures, so try this:  discard all but one Tablespoon.  Feed two Tablespoons of water and one Tablespoon of flour.  Repeat every 12 hours.  I believe it is more accurate to feed by weighing the ingredients, and I believe that a 100% hydration (equal weights of flour and water) keeps the math easy.  This 2 to 1 ratio of water to flour is a reasonable approximation of those.  There are many philosopies on this, and lots of opinions on proper starter feeding cycles, ratios and hydrations, all of which have their pros and cons.  You will probably here more from other TFL members here.   Over time you will develop your own preferences and you will figure out what works best for you in your kitchen and environment.

Best of luck

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Just the opposite.  Water weighs more than flour.  It's 2 spoons of water to 4 level spoons of flour if you want to feed closer to equal amounts in weight.    

Look at the recipe for the levain build.  There it should tell you how much starter (your 2 tbs or 30g) and how much water and flour to add to blend and stand overnight to ripen for tomorrows bake.

babybirdbreads's picture

i do have a scale.  the recipe from Hamelman says the use all but "2 tabelspoons" of the levain. 

if i am only feeding 3 tablespoons of ingredients every 12 hours how will i have enough to make the bread again tomorrow? 

Donkey_hot's picture

And right above that, just a few lines up in the Levian section, you may find "1 oz(2 tbsp)".

dabrownman's picture

If you want more levain to bake with tomorrow.  Keep both tablespoons and increase the amounts you feed it.  Since you have a scale, weigh out your seed starter and double that weight in flour and water .  If for example the seed weighs 20 g, then feed it 40 g each of water and flour giving you 100 g.  In 8 hours it should double.  At that time you can feed it 80 g of flour and 80 g of water giving you 260 g of levain in another 8 hours that has doubled.  You can then take 20 g of that to make more levain for the next day's bread  and bake with the remaining 240 g - easily enough for 2 loaves at 800 g each.. 

Hopes this helps.  Happy Baking 

babybirdbreads's picture

YES!  thank you.  and if i don't need to bake with it, is one feeding a day okay until i want to bake with it again? 

LindyD's picture

Since you've made the investment in the purchase of Bread (an excellent decision, IMHO), Mr. Hamelman does provide instructions for maintaining your levain.  Not sure which edition you have, but it's listed in the Appendix of both editions, under sourdough. Lots of references in the index as well.

Happy baking....

Donkey_hot's picture

Depends on the hydration level of your starter and the particular recipe requirements.  For example, if you keep your starter at 100% hydration, and the recipe calls for 125%, or 60%, you would have to build it in advance as described in the book.   The book you bought is excellent, I suggest you read it, everything you need is there.

davidg618's picture

...from any Hydration refrigerated seed starter.

I wrote the attached posting more than three years ago early in my journey to baking good sourdough. I still use this technique, and I've been enjoying consistent flavor, crust and crumb in my sourdough baking for more than a year. I hasten to add, that consistency is due to a lot more learned discipline than just levain building. Nonetheless, this may answer your question. ready-levain-starter

Since writing this I've made one change, but not in the way I build formula ready levain; following Debra Wink's advice, I now replace my seed starter entirely every week. I still build formula ready levains in three builds, over twenty-four hours.

I bake sourdough every week. To replace my seed starter I make enough extra levain such that I can feed 20g of ripe levain 1:1:1; that is 20g ripe levain, 20g flour, 20g water: a total of 60g seed starter that I place in the refrigerator for next week's levain build.

David G