The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does dissolving levain in water hurt gluten?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Does dissolving levain in water hurt gluten?

Does dissolving levain in water hurt gluten?

My practice is to completely dissolve the levain into the dough water. Does this harm the gluten that is brought in from the levain?

Dan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

The gluten get developed after the levain and water are added to the dough flour.  No worries at all.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

And more so all the time this past year.  Whisk it right in.  Since I mix virtually everything by hand, I find that lower hydration levains can be sticky to work in or otherwise just plain difficult, so I take the easy way out and mix it in the water.

On the reverse side, working with a Hamelman-style 125% hydration levain, if I don't whisk it in first, then the initial mix of flour and water is too dry and can get clumpy.  Not a pleasant sight.

alan

Edit:

To be clear, the flour gets mixed into the levain and water immediately after whisking the levain into the water.  There is no lag time.  Anyone who has paid attention to my posts can clearly see that my results are indicative of success in doing this. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Let me make sure I communicate correctly. The gluten I am concerned with is the gluten in the levain. 

I think of gluten as a network of long strands that are formed, similar to a piece of fabric. When the levain is completely dissolved into the dough water, it seems these strands are broken down and no longer exist.

I almost always dissolve my levain in dough water, but techniques, such as Trevor’s and many others place the levain on top of the dough and knead to incorporate. When it comes to the integrity of gluten is the later method better?

I know this is a strange question, but the thought arose and I am curious to learn.

Thanks, Danny

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...it seems these strands are broken down and no longer exist."

They are broken down before they hit the water.  

Gluten strands that are not broken down will not dissolve in the water but make a rubbery or strand like glob.  

You can test fermentation progress this way too.  Say you put the levain in the water and it didn't dissolve.  What would that tell you?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Say you put the levain in the water and it didn't dissolve.  What would that tell you?”

Two guesses

  1. the levain wasn’t fermented enough - maybe a wet levain would break down regardless of the fermentation 
  2. the levain was a low hydration - the gluten in a low hydration levain would be extremely difficult to break down to a complete liquid

Watch are the test results teach? I am curious to learn :-)

Dan

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

very good!   :)  Number 1.    

About number 2.... A stiff levain would still break down when ready to incorporate.

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

Definitely not. I tried to find the video from puratos of separating out gluten from dough by rinsing it, but couldn't find. Here's one that is also good. This is a fun experiment!

Rinsing gluten out of dough

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Thanks Julie, in the past I have actually performed that test. The resulting gluten is somewhat like a rubber ball.

But that is not what happens when a 100% levain is dissolved in water. It turns into a frothy cream like liquid. Your reminder of washing gluten makes me wonder even more, what happens to the gluten in the levain?

Dan

wally's picture
wally

Short answer is no. Dissolving your levain in water actually makes it easier to spread its yeasties and to get all the levain out of the container.

Longer answer is that the gluten in the levain is largely broken down when it is ripe, but this in no way has a negative effect on the overall gluten development of the dough.

Larry