The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain de Campagne with unfed Levain

Danni3ll3's picture

Pain de Campagne with unfed Levain

Like Bread1965, I have been collecting the left over levain from my bakes because I just couldn’t justify throwing out perfectly good starter. I didn’t feel like making waffles or pancakes and I had done a bit of research on using Starter in bread dough without refreshing it. I also took a peek at FWSY for how much yeast to use in a hybrid dough. So armed with that info, I came up with a recipe.

Then in the middle of it, I read Bread1965’s post and had a mild heart attack when he said he threw his batch out because it was overly sour. I did taste the raw dough to make sure it wasn’t too sour. It actually had a very mild tang. I wonder if this was because I tend to use my Levain as soon as it tripled which it does in 3-4 hours. So the leftover Levain is still very young. 

Anyhow, it all turned out just fine. And it tastes more than fine too. We had some for dinner. Here is the recipe:

1. Autolyse 600 g unbleached flour, 302 g multigrain flour, 50 g ground flax with 600 g water. Let sit for an hour. 

2. Add 410 g unfed levain at 80% hydration, 30 g yogourt, 1/2 tsp yeast and 22 g salt. Mix well using pinch and fold. 

3. Ferment doing 4 sets of folds every half hour and then let rise till double. 

4. Divide into 3 small loaves, preshape, rest 15 minutes, shape tightly and place into bannetons. Cover bannetons and out to proof in the fridge for 12-14 hours. 

5. Preheat oven to 475 F with Dutch ovens inside. Drop loaves into pots lined with rounds of parchment paper. Bake covered  25 minutes at 450 F, uncover pots and bake a further 22 minutes at 425 F. 

I found that making only 3 loaves this weekend was a piece of cake when I usually make 12 (I took a break from baking for my friends).  Not having add-ins to fuss with was also kind of nice! I also know that I can collect my left over Levain and make bread with it that is quite tasty.  


Danni3ll3's picture

dmsnyder's picture

That's about 25% pre-fermented flour. Not unreasonable, generally.

When you say your starter was "unfed," how long since the last feeding? Was it kept at room temp. or in the fridge?


Danni3ll3's picture

collected over at least the last four to six weekends if not more. So some of it is fairly old but the stuff on the top was fro Tuesday when I last mixed up dough. It was kept in the fridge. I do remember throwing in a bit more flour to thicken it up a few weeks ago as i was going to use it as my NFNM starter but I didn’t put enough in to thicken it to that point. 


Bread1965's picture

As usual your loaves look great!!  Very well done! You're an inspiration!

Danni3ll3's picture

I am really sorry about that!

Bread1965's picture

You're making some great breads!! Enjoy

Danni3ll3's picture


isand66's picture

Very nice discovery.  We learn something new all the time.

Happy Baking!

alfanso's picture

Whenever I'm baking with a 75% hydration levain, it is almost always excess from earlier builds and unfed.  Never seems to complain.  If I need 300g, let's say, I might do a refresh of maybe 1000g and keep the rest at the ready.

These look very nice indeed!


Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Looks delicious and loving that crumb. It's funny as we have the 'rules' for using sourdough and at the beginning I attached so much importance to catching that perfect peaking time etc. But reality is different and exciting to try different things. 

dabrownman's picture

It is my starter that goes unfed for weeks on end but I like an active levain rather than one that is tired and old like me:-)   whole multi-grains - my favorite beard by far.  Well done and

Happy baking Danni