The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Helps! Recipe between Tartine and Lahey for sourdough...

elmsley4's picture

Helps! Recipe between Tartine and Lahey for sourdough...

First there was Lahey's bread in the NYT: awesome.

Then there was Reinhart's "Artisan breads everyday": awesome.

Then there was Robertson's "Tartine": Oh yeah!!!!  


Candidly, so far Tartine is my favorite, BUT, it's TIME CONSUMING and a PITA (Pain In The A**).  

I've got my sourdough in the fridge, but I need ideas what to use it for.  I've seen recipes on a few websites, but they call for 1C of starter.  This seems like a lot when I'm used to making a levain with 1T of starter from Robertson.  

Other goals are to find other recipes for my starter: pancakes, bagels, etc...  Suggestions are welcome.

1) Can someone point me in the direction of really good sourdough bread that isn't as time consuming or detailed (e.g. 80-degree water, than 78-degree water) as Tartine?

2) Can someone advise how to convert a bread recipe using commercial yeast, to starter?

Thanks all!

Happy Baking,



Note: I've included a picture from one of my babies!  Looking at it is making me hungry!


Ginzu Gary Lee's picture
Ginzu Gary Lee

This is a link to King Arthur recipes. I've tried a lot of different ones but this my favorite. I've made this recipe 2 or 3 Sunday mornings a month for years. I halve the recipe most of the time.

The great thing is weigh the ingredients and mix in the evening in a large bowl. The next morning ad the final ingredients mix and cook.


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Use a tbsp of starter to make a levain and in the morning add eggs, sugar, etc and get cooking. 

elmsley4's picture

I think I've seen that pancake recipe - I want to try it!  I'm using a 1qt jar for my starter.  Using Robertson's levain technique, I just use the levain as my new starter when I make his bread.

I'm trying to learn the differences between making a levain and, for sake of example, the pancake recipe.


Pancake recipe calls for 2C of starter + ingredients, let it sit overnight and get cooking.  

David Esq. suggests using the Tartine approach to make a levain w/ 1T of starter and get cooking.

For sake of clarity, I'm going to define a "Levain" as starting with 1T of starter, flour, etc... + overnight ferment.

1) If I make the pancake recipe with 2C of starter, the next morning, is the mixture considered a levain too?

2) What are the pros and cons of using a Levain (see def above) vs 2C of starter?

3) If I did use the Levain technique, is the "float test" still the same to get the pancakes going?


Ultimately, I'm after bread that is less "fussy" than Robertson's, but still uses a Levain.  My secondary goal is to find other recipes (thanks btw for the pancake one) to use my starter.

Maybe I'm being silly as my only slight issue with wanting to make a Levain, is that I am using a 1Qt container for my starter.  It's in the fridge, and every 1-2 weeks, I dump out 80% and add more flour & water.  So, I can either just make a larger batch of starter (I don't want TOO much b/c for the amount I bake, I don't want to be dumping out 3C of starter every 2 weeks), or use the Levain technique (I can save $ and starter!) - I just need some direction outside of Robertson's technique of using a Levain.

Thanks all!



trailrunner's picture

I have never used any of the books you are mentioning so am not familiar with the 1 Tbsp method. But I have used The Wild Yeast blog for a ton of formulas and you will be very pleased with everything Susan has to offer. She hosts yeastspotting also but her own formulas are listed under "recipes" at the top of her blog. Look at More Sour Norwich Sourdough and Norwich Sourdough to start. She regularly uses 300-400 grams of levain for her formulas. I use this term to mean what ever you have that will rise bread. So if you have a cup or two of starter in your fridge you take it out and put 1 1/2 cups in a container and weigh it...add = parts water and flour and you have a 100% hydration levain. You will need as I said 300-400 grams for 2 large loaves. I regularly double her formulas and use 600-800 grams of levain , I keep about 1 c in a plastic Dannon container in my fridge. As to how to use extra should never ever discard...your discard is what you are going to use to make your levain. For any "extra" simply go to and you will find a lifetime's worth of recipes for using starter/levain. There are enough ideas there to keep you busy and then some !!  Good Luck . c

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

You are already messing with the dark side. 

I maintain my starter in a 1/2 pint mason jar so I never have more than a couple of ounces of the stuff. 

Pancakes don't need to pass a float test. If you feed a starter flour and water it can certainly be a levain come morning. 

Pros and cons just depend on what you have in the fridge. If you gave 1/4 cup of starter then make the levain. I suppose if you eat the levain it is just pancake batter but if you use it to raise dough it is a levain!

Antilope's picture

Here's the link: (mostly dessert recipes, but a good price at $3.99 for the Kindle e-book edition)

Tartine (Kindle Edition) by Elisabeth Prueitt, Chad Robertson

CAphyl's picture

Elmsley4:  I really like this recipe, which is very simple and you can scale to what you need.  It does call for 1 cup of starter, but you can scale down to make fewer flatbreads.  I usually add feta and olives or blue cheese/stilton and olives by creating a hole in the middle of the ball and then flattening the dough before grilling.  Phyllis

Grilled Sourdough Flatbreads
from city hippy farm girl

-1 cup sourdough starter
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp water
-olive oil & desired seasonings (rosemary, garlic powder, salt, etc.)

1. Add the sourdough starter, flour, salt, baking soda, and olive oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the dough hook, mix until ingredients are combined. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough forms. Dough should be only slightly sticky to the touch.
2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rest for an hour.
3. Break off small chunks of dough (mine were larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball) and roll out as thinly as possible on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Brush with olive oil and desired seasonings.(I usually form the ball, insert the ingredients, and then roll them out).
4. Grill flatbreads over medium heat, flipping after 3-4 minutes or when browned.  Cook remaining side for 3-4 minutes. Serve warm or store in an airtight container for 1-2 days.

elmsley4's picture

What's the weight for 1C of sourdough?  


Ford's picture

I also use weight for my measurements.  The weight of one cup of starter depends upon how much it has risen and the hydration.  I take it to be "knocked down"  and 100% hydration; I weigh it at 9 ounces.


dabrownman's picture

t yeast bread but he rewards of a fine tasting loaf are worth it.  It takes about a day to make a SD bread but there is hardly any work involved - especially if you use the no knead method,   But it can take 3 days too, with the same work involved  if you want an even better bread.

I too use a small amount of refrigerated starter and it takes 12 hours to do a 1 stage levain build that gets the size big enough to rise a loaf of bread .  Even though you only spent 5 minutes doing th work involved, by then, it is time for  bed so I just refrigerate it.  OR you can get it ready 12 hours ahead of when you want to use it and just leave it on the counter overnight .

The next morning you either get it out of the fridge ti warm uo or start making the dough.  By the time you get the gluten developed, the dough fermented, properly shaped  and proofed and baked it can take most of the 2nd day If you don't retard the dough for 12- 24 hours either before or after shaping to bring out more sour.

So discounting the levain build that happens overnight the fastest SD bread will take the next day to finish off - but it wonlt be the best SD bread in my book either - which will take another day at the end and the beginning.

Ypu can speed things uo by using some commercia yeast  n the mix or using a larger levain amount,

Any yeast bread can be converted to SD by making a levain that ends up being 10-20% of the weight of the flour and water in the dough.  Just pick a % that you want and take that amount of flour and water from the recipe totals and add your T of starter  and buiid a levain over 12 hours.  When it is ready, just add it to the reminder if the recipe ingredients and follow your usual method to make a SD bread. 

It is the extra time that makes SD bread taste great but also the reason yeast breads are so much more popular.  Most peope don't like sour bread or investing the time required to make it