The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Olive levain

Bushturkey's picture

Olive levain

Olive levain just out of the oven

Olive levain just out of the oven

Olive levain - crumb

Olive levain - crumb

The recipe called for a liquid levain. The flavour was extraordinary. I didn't know the flavour of the levain can change as much as it did (going from stiff to liquid).

For a culture, I used left-over levain from the Pain au levain recipe (Hamelman's levain recipes always have an ounce or so of surplus levain in order to perpetuate the sourdough), which I made into a liquid levain (125% hydration). I found it was slower to start rising than my usual sourdough.

When I mixed the final dough, I tried to let the flour autolyse with the water. I found it a bit too dry, so i added a bit of extra water. When I then added the liquid levain I encountered two problems:

  1. The hydration was way too much (the recipe called for 65%, mine felt more like 80%!) and
  2. The dough had chunks of the stiffer flour/water mixture in a smooth batter-like dough.

I worked it and worked it, until I got the chunks ironed out and I added a bit of flour to make the dough less slack. Then I got worried that the extra flour I'm adding won't be as worked as the initial flour and I didn't know how this would affect the dough, so I stopped at some point, even though the dough still felt slack.

Even though my culture was active, the final dough seemed to take a long time to rise. It was at 69.8 F (close enough to 70). Even at 2.5 hours, there wasn't much rise in the dough. I was pressed for time, so instead of waiting longer I proceded with the foldings and dividing and shaping. I let the loaves rise in nylon baskets, dusted with rye flour. 

The loaves also took a long time to rise, and (something which I'm used to currently!), the dough stuck to the baskets when I up-turned them onto the baking tray to load into the oven.

The bread tasted good but, as you can see, the crumb is not as open as it could've been.

I've just refreshed my sourdough and I'll have another go. 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have to wonder where these two loaves came from...  That's amazing.   :)