The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trevor’s book and levain building!

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Trevor’s book and levain building!

I need someone to check my math and make sure that what I am doing makes sense. Normally, I build up 1250 g of roughly 80% hydration levain like this:

Thursday night: I take 20 g of refrigerated starter and feed it 20 g each of water and whole grain flour. 1:1:1

Friday morning: I feed it 40 g each of water and whole grain flour. 1:0.6:0.6

Friday night: I feed it 80 g each of water and whole grain flour. 1:0.58:0.59

Saturday morning which is dough making day: I feed it 422 g of water, 106 g of whole grain flour and 422 g of unbleached flour. 1:1.4:1.76. (Wow, I’ve never done the math like this... I am ending up with some very interesting numbers). This triples in 4-5 hours depending on whether I use rye or whole-wheat. Rye makes it zoom along. 

So according to Trevor, I probably have way too much of an acid load for a more open crumb and oven spring. I will have to play with how I feed my starter for an 80% hydration levain but for this weekend, I am actually following a recipe and not creating my own (for the most part). I need 1860 g of 100% levain. So the plan is this:

Thursday night: Take 10 g of starter and feed it 30 g each of water and whole wheat flour. 1:3:3

Friday morning: Feed it 210 g each of water and flour. 1:3:3

Friday night: Feed it 870 g each of water and flour. 1:3:3

Use Saturday morning. This is feeding 1:3:3 all the way but to me it seems crazy to start with only 10 g of starter and a day and a half later end up with 2030 g of levain. 

Am I figuring this out correctly?

This is also bringing up a whole lot of questions in my mind. Is this why my bulk fermentations always take 5 or so hours when I see a lot of people here with much shorter times? Is my oven spring affected by this? How is this going to affect my final proofing in the fridge? Yes, I know most are going to say you need to go ahead and experiment but a few thoughts wouldn’t hurt. Oh and I need to keep reading Trevor’s book... I only just finished the starter part. ;-)

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

my room temperatures are perhaps a bit lower than ideal but soon summer temperatures will help that.  I haven't checked your starter build yet, i need pen and paper for that.  I found Trevor's comment about acid load very interesting and will probably fresh my mother starter more frequently.  hopefully other more switched on folk will check your build before I get back.

oh yeah, keep reading...  it is great to be challenged like this, isn't it.

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

You wish for 3 builds and each build should be a good feed. This builds up the yeast population as supposed to your smaller feeds which makes it more acidic.

How about a gradual increase in feeds? Like 1:1:1, 1:2:2, 1:3:3?

18:18:18

54:108:108

270:810:810

Total = 1890g

 

Thrice well fed. Built up strength and yeast population. 30g healthy starter leftover. Refrigerate for a week and bring back to strength when building your next lot.

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I am under the impression via Debra Wink's work that smaller feeds favor yeast populations over LAB.  You are saying the opposite, here, right?

What am I missing?

Edited to include the reference: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/181531#comment-181531

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

work backwards! A feed of 1:3:3 for each build. 1+3+3=7

1860/7=265.7143 : 1=266g

So the last feed will be 266:798:798 (always round up for the starter amount)

 

Again... 1+3+3=7

266/7=38 : 1=38

So the second feed will be 38:114:114

 

And finally (or firstly)... 1+3+3=7

38/7=5.42 : 1=6

So the first feed will be 6:18:18  - and use 38g of this for the second feed

 

Now it looks something like this:

  • 6:18:18 = 42
  • 38 42:114:114 = 270 (those few extra grams you don't have to adjust - count for loss through fermentation)
  • 266 270:798:798 (same here)

= 1866g after fermentation it'll probably end up exactly 1860g. All 3 builds are 1:3:3 or near enough except for a few grams here and there.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

And it makes total sense. I really like the idea of the gradual increase of feed as it doesn’t overwhelm the yeast population at the beginning. Thank you!!!

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

I'm not going to suggest what you should do, but just provide another example, so that you might not think what you are doing is so crazy (and for context, I feed my 100% starter every morning and every evening, and it is quite active). 

I keep a very small mother starter (1/2 pint wide mouth ball jar with the white plastic lid), at cool room (basement) temps 67-69F. Twice a day I basically scoop out "all" of what is there, except what is clinging to the bottom/sides, which is enough for the ~20g each of flour and water added (and I figure that the starter clinging to the jar = 5-7% of the added flour weight for each refreshment).  That is the routine.

Working backwards from my dough formulas...the morning before I mix, I figure out how much total levain I need in the evening (and for that, I generally use 15-17% of the total flour weight of each of the doughs I will be making, as my total levain weight). 

Next, I calculate the flour and water totals for the levain (at 100% hydration, that means splitting the total levain weight by 1/2), and then I multiply the total levain flour weight by .018 (yep, just under 2%) for my total starter weight. 

I then break that out to get my flour and water totals for the 100% hydration final starter "build" (and I have never liked thinking in terms of "builds", or even ratios, but rather percentages by flour weight, as that is how everything else gets calculated for me).

That final starter gets scaled and mixed, and ferments all day, then in the evening, it gets added to my levain, which gets mixed and ferments overnight, then portions go into each dough the next day (again, the total levain weight for each dough is 15-17% of the total flour weight of the final dough).

So I'm using pretty minuscule amounts of starter, even at low water and room temps (and at most 2 "builds")...which doesn't mean that will work for you, but gives some perspective on the range of possibilities.  Here is a snapshot of my levain prep spreadsheet for yestrerday's mix (all in grams):

Clear as mud, I'm sure!

[BTW, my bulk is about 3hrs...proof for an hour or two before overnight in the fridge]

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I will need to read your post more carefully when I gave more time (I am at pottery) but I wanted to thank you for posting!

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

i think ive been doing this wrong all this time...

i usually do a build for 4 days.

I start on monday morning with 1:1:1 and keep up the 1:1:1 (removing and adding flour and water twice a day) until friday morning when i make the final levain for the nights baking. Basically its a slow build ie removing half and adding double twice a day until friday morning. My rye starter is active but ive never got a great rise nor large aeration. Is that due to long slow build when i should be doing a 1:3:3? Is the yeast just tired by the end of the week?

The taste of the bread is mild (which i like)) my fementation time is at least 4 hours (its getting cold) and my proofing time around 1 3/4 hours. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

As with maintenance ones levain build will differ. Danni was asking about Trevor's method and was aiming for 3 builds using the 1:3:3 ratio each time. I simply showed how I'd work it out. That is fine if that's what you're after.

I don't have one particular method myself. It all depends on time, what I'm aiming for and how long it's been since my starter was fed last.

You like the results. Your starter is clearly working well. Your timings are very much in the normal range. Everything is fine.

If you're wondering about the pretext for this discussion then take a look at Trevor's post and book.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

because I realized last night that I have been seriouslly under feeding my builds and my breads still turn out reasonably well. I am really curious to see how things go with improved feeds. 

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

do you have the link to the post?

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

To his website and the book.

http://www.breadwerx.com/author/admin/

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

thanks

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

That makes me feel somewhat at ease from the comments I took it that large quicker builds are better for yeast strength whereas I gradually build everything up twice a day from Monday morning to thursday night before making levain on friday morning and then adding 20% to mix that night - always more flour and water going in on each feed than previous feed - a factor of 1:1.5...(I think my maths is right there...I refresh mother once a week from fridge

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

I know a number of you have been through this...but always, always, always...back to this great reference from D. Wink:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com//node/10375/lactic-acid-fermentation-sourdough

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

Bought Trevor’s book - fantastic as all his instructional videos have been - no nonsense, roo the point and very informative 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

of levain builds. My starter used to triple in four hours with my old way of doing things but with feeding it 1:1:1.2, 1:1.8:2.25, 1:2.5:3.19, it took 10 hours to double and then it rose just a smidgen more over the next two hours and then just sat there. It seems that if I kept it hungry, it would go crazy during that last build but with keeping it well fed, it got really lazy. 

The oven spring also was not what I expected but I can’t really blame it totally on the levain as I did more folds during the entire bulk rise.  It still took the usual 5 hours or so, the dough rose only 50% which is understandable when you degas it slightly with each sets of folds. I was also pretty gentle in my shaping so I might not have gotten enough tension on the dough for the final proof. 

And one more thing, I find that my sweet spot for proofing is 10-12 hours in the fridge and this was 14+ hours so lots of variables that may have added to a not so great loaf. I still have to cut it open to check out the crumb but the outside is nothing to write home about. I will have to redo this recipe using my previous methods and see if I get a better looking loaf. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

so I can’t comment on his thoughts about acid and crumb structure but I can my thoughts to this subject and hopefully not impart a lessened understanding of it at the same time.

First off, acid inhibits all enzymatic activity in dough not just the protease which break the protein bonds in gluten strands   Secondly, acid actually strengthens the gluten strands making it harder for the protein bonds to be broken.

An open crumb requires that some of the gluten strands to be broken so that larger holes can be formed.  Protease action and the breaking of the protein bonds that hold gluten together is required for an open crumb and acid works in two ways to stop this from happening.

It is also important to know that most of the protease in flour is found in the parts usually sifted out to make a white flour.  That is why protease action in the real sourdough baking world almost never works to break down the gluten strands in white bread to the point where it turns to goo in a normal bread making process.

So, there is little protease action in white bread to begin with and the acid in sourdough makes it slower to work and even tougher for the protease to break protein bonds.  So how do bakers get those big holes in white SD bread?  The main reasons, simply put, is time and the more the better. and less acid in the mix.  More time not only helps the flavor of the bread but also the crumb structure …..if big holes, like the ones found in SF SD is the goal.  Giving the protease more time to do its work in a less acid environment makes for bigger holes.

There are many ways to add time and less acid to the dough but the most important ones are to use, as Chad Robertson says, a fresh, many times refreshed levain where LAB populations are reduced.  Since LAB out reproduce yeast at all temperatures picking the one most favorable to yeast 80-84 F is best for levain building and the dough work that follows.  This keeps the acid load down but increases the yeast making for less time so there is a tradeoff.

The other way to lower the acid load and increase the time is to use a young levain but not very much of it - a small amount of levain is best for big holes.  Using 10% or less pre-fermented flour for the levain will make the dough much less acidic, for the longest time, allowing the protease to get their work done before the dough gets too acidic.  In my book, this is the most important thing to remember if you want an open crumb.

Today, SFSD is much less sour and has much larger holes than it did in the 60’s the 70’s when I first had the pleasure to tasting some.  The reason is because of the way levains are built, when they are used and the amount of levain utilized.

Whole grains and open crumb brings up another problem more important than having more protease to contend with than white bread.  Bran acts as a knife and cuts the gluten strands making for a dense crumb and this is the biggest problem.  But, this too can be handled by the SD baker very easily.

Just sift out the bran and make a bran levain.  Getting all the bran wettest the longest and letting the acid actually break it down will lessen its gluten cutting ability greatly.  You can also retard the levain to allow the acid to work on softening the bran even further.  The extra acid a bran levain creates will hinder the extra protease in whole grain from breaking down too many gluten forming protein bonds.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I have read your post several times to digest it and figure out how I can use it in practice. Things that I plan to implement based on your post are:

1. Put levain builds in my warm spot to favour the yeast growth.

2. Reduce my preferment flour to 10 % of total flour weight and change my levain to 100 % hydration. I presently use 13 % of an 80% hydration levain. This will actually make my calculations easier.

2. Sift out the bran and use that for the levain builds and feel free to retard the levain. The latter is something I haven't done before and will be of use since it will give me even more flexibility in my schedule. Question though: Do you let it return to room temperature before using or you use it right out of the fridge?

And now for the big surprise! Those loaves I baked this morning and was rather unhappy at the oven spring? Take a look at their crumb!

It's no Trevor Wilson type of crumb but I certainly didn't expect it to be this open!

Maybe the only screw up in my procedure was to not stick to my usual 10 to 12 hours proof time in the fridge. Although I read something in another post today that at 39 F, sourdough yeast comes to a screeching halt. My fridge is at 37 F! Then it shouldn't matter if the loaves are in there for 10 or 16 hours.... All I know is that I get better oven spring if I don't go over 12 hour retardation. Or maybe it is all in my imagination. Ha ha! I wonder what reducing the pre-fermented flour to 10% will do to my proofing times?

 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

Dabrownman's response sent me off looking and I ended up spending ages reading Debra Winks article... (bikeprof's link)  ideas are going round nd round inside my head - Trevor's book has had a huge impact and I am looking at everything I do.  My levain builds the day before baking are not strictly anything but start at 1:2:2 then whatever I think. yesterday I added another 2 (of the original amount) water and flour and it was really bubbling away before I did the build last night. Dabrownman makes me think again and Debra's post combined with a bake today, wow ! bulk ferment and proof much faster than I would have done in the past.  most of the bake was good, but not all. dough was too extensive!  back to the drawing board.  You seem to have nailed it - I bet it tastes great!

happy baking Danni, look forward to next one :)

Leslie

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

LAB our reproduce yeast at all temperatures but especially at high and low ones.  74 F seems to be the place where the LAB to yeas ratio is the lowest for reproduction so if you want to encourage yeast that that is the one to shoot for.  Lucy developed bran levain to do two things, increase the sour and open the crumb of whole grain breads.  The wee beasties love the wet, as Debra Wink told me, the LAB a bit more than yeast.  I bring everything to room tempertaure before using it in dough including retarded bran levains.

I was going to comment on your levain feeds that you mentioned originally. which seemed long and difficult   My starter builds and leavin feedings are designed to have both at peak performance in 3 feedings at the 12 hour mark.  I want to start with small starter amounts because I don't keep much using the NMNF way,

The NMNF starter is designed to have higher LAB to yeast ratio because I was sour and I want low yeast amounts to make fermenting and proofing go slower allowing better flavor to develop.  Starter and levain start small but increase at each stage and and we use the rule of 15, also invented by Lucy, to figure out how to do it.  All you have to know is how much levain you need.

If you need 150 g then you divide 150 by 15 and you get 10 g.  The starter amount is 10 g and the first feeding is 10 g each of flour and water.  The 2nd feeding, 4 hours later, is twice the first or 20 g each and the 3rd feeding, also 4 hours later, is 40 g each.  Magically the finished weight of the levain is 150 g. and it is at is peak and ready to be do is work in the dough  Now you can use it or retard it for 48 hours to really bring out the flavor.  That Lucy is one good baking apprentice 2nd class even though I rag on her all the time - she does have her moments!

I too do not like to retard shaped dough for longer than 12 hours because the spring and bloom suffers.,because it can over proofs in the fridge as I'm sleeping   If I am going to retard dough over that, like today, then I do it bulk, let it warm up for 2 hours, then shape and final proof the next morning to get the best results.  You can also retard shaped dough longer if you use less levain and don't do a long bulk ferment on the counter but it takes some experimentation.  Luckily, if it over proofs shaped in the fridge you can always just let it warm up for 10 minutes, shape it again and let it final proof - no harm no worries,  You do get better blisters when you bake cold dough and using a couche  for proofing to dry out the skin a bit.  It also scores easier that way too.

Baking is a trade off much of the time.  I still think that holes are mainly the result of using the right flour, the right time and proper handling mostly.  But we bake for taste and then for beauty .....when you get both then the world is right :-)

Happy baking Danni

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Can you (or Lucy) clarify for me the temperatures that favor bacteria? I've read many posts from Debra Wink that cause me to believe that higher temperatures actually favor LAB.  I'll include a few references but I know I've read others as well. I must be missing some of the nuances.

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/178293#comment-178293

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/181531#comment-181531

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/95232#comment-95232

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that shows the reproduction rates of LAB and yeast and the LAB to yeast ratio at each temperature

Reproduction Rates of LAB and YeastL/Y 
T(°F)T (°C)L. SF IL. SF IIYeastRatio
     36        20.0190.0160.0053.787
     39        40.0260.0220.0083.147
     43        60.0350.0310.0132.634
     46        80.0470.0430.0212.222
     61      160.1440.1500.1141.265
     64      180.1870.1980.1631.145
     68      200.2390.2590.2251.064
     72      220.3010.3320.2951.021
     75      240.3740.4160.3651.024
     79      260.4530.5080.4141.094
     82      280.5350.5980.4171.284
     86      300.6090.6720.3461.760
     90      320.6580.7060.2023.255
     93      340.6570.6710.05013.127

Temperatures below 46 F and above 88 F favoreLAB the most. and 68- 76 favor the yeast when it comes to the LAB to yeast ratio.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

or only L SF? I am in Sourdough project With Robert Dunn laboratory and there is no Lacto. san fran. in it apparently, just lots of Lactobacillus sp and several named ones etc.

Leslie

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

but since they are all very specific types that live in symbiotic relationships with each other in high acid environments that kill off others we assume that they are similar to some degree.  I have had may different starters and they have all worked the same and followed these temperature ranges fairly closely.  I have also never heard of any that didn't wither. 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

every bit of info helps.

Portus's picture
Portus

... I find the chart particularly useful in moments of panic!

https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/a-few-tips-on-dough-temperature/