The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Levain Maintenance

nhorwat's picture

Levain Maintenance

I've started baking Domique Ansel croissant recipe and he has instructions for starting a levain. They turned out pretty good and I'd like to keep the levain going. I'm unsure if I need to do it every day or if I can refrigerate it, etc.

He started with 50 g each of flour and water. Leave sit room temp 24 hours. Add 50 g each flour and water day 2, sti 24 hours and on day three add 100 g each flour and water. Day 4 Remove 20% levain and day 5 it should be ready to use.

If I understand correctly this would be considered a 100% hydration starter?

I've tried to do a bit of reading and since the day I used it, I've discarded all but 100 g of the levain and added 100 g each of flour and water and let it sit 24 hours. I'm not sure though now if that was the correct thing to do. I've always kept it at room temp. I'd love to be able to keep it in the refridgerator and maybe not feed it daily, but I didn't know if that would work. I think I'd be making croissants only about 1 time per month. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions? Thanks.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

From which you build a levain. I like to think of my starter as a petri dish where I store the yeasts and bacteria. Keep a small amount in the fridge. The flour and hydration is not important. Maintain your starter how you wish but at this stage don't worry too much about it and don't over think it. Just make sure it's alive and healthy. Don't be a slave to your starter and keep it in the fridge.  

When it comes to making bread, take off a little of the starter and build that up into a levain. Now you are interested in flour and hydration. It's basically an off shoot bespoke starter built specifically for the recipe you're following. 

When your starter runs low then take it out of the fridge, give it some tlc, build it up again and return it to the fridge. No need to keep too much. I typically build 80-100g which will last about two weeks.  

Maintaining your starter this way is less wasteful, easy to manage and one starter suits all.