The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The young leaven method

pezeni's picture

The young leaven method

I began making the country loaf recipe from Tartine following the guidelines for using leaven when it has risen by 30% and just passes the float test BUT if I allow my leaven to fully double which happens in 8 hours, the overnight time suggested in the book, my bread always bakes puffier, the crust crackles more, the crumb is more open, so I'm trying to understand what the benefits of the young leaven method are? I notice also after being overnight in the fridge the doughs made with the riper leaven have risen more and better retained their round shape. The doughs made with young leaven are usually smaller and flatter, certainly nowhere near where you would want to "bake from the fridge" like the book encourages. Anyone have any thoughts on this maybe I am doing something wrong?

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

I've seen a video where Chad Robertson says that he uses young leaven in order to downplay the sour taste that comes with older leaven.

I use leaven that has been fermented for about 8 hours for my Tartine bread, and I'm pretty happy with the result. Mainly though that fits well with my baking schedule.

phaz's picture

 an older levain will have more structure compared to a younger levain.  that structure it's basically strong gluten. that develops over time,  up to a point.  too long and the gluten breaks down.  all that gluten will hold bigger bubbles,  and allow the dough to hold its shape better. younger will, as mentioned, reduce the sour. I wanted a little more sour and better shape holding dough,  so now I use my levain after an overnight set at about 65 degrees I start it late the night before so it's about a10 hr fermentation.  levain is about 65% of the total recipe. crumb has a bit more chew,  which I like,  and  and a more pronounced tang. an old baking book, from late 1800s, talked about this too. your not the first to ask this! back then, some bakers would use the dough on the first rise, some would wait till the dough fell and rose again, the second rise. first rise dough had less flavor and was denser than second rise dough. same holds true 125 years later!