The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Butter Sandwich

Rajan Shankara's picture
Rajan Shankara

Butter Sandwich

...just kidding, there's no butter sandwich. But, I baked another loaf this morning. I made A LOT of starter for some reason, and went on a long weekend. The levain was put in the fridge and three days later it was a pile of bubbly mush. 

"I'm tired of believing I need to ferment sourdough with a fresh levain.." I thought to myself. So, I decided to bake a loaf of bread with 3 day old, cold levain—without refreshing it one little bit. 


I stuck with a safe 75% hydration recipe of mine and trusted my beast of a starter. 

First image is always sideways...?


450g flour (5% buckwheat)

324g water

10g salt

150g levain...yup. My recipe called for 81g (18%) but I had so much extra—and it was cold and unfed—I decided to throw in an ungodly amount in the name of science. (33%) Percents for total dough formula...I think. 

Hydration ended up at 76%. 


The next stages went well, and I gave it a nice long BF, from 1:45pm to 7pm with one hour in the fridge because I wasn't home. 

Shaped at 8:30pm, thrown in a basket and cold retard for 12 hrs. 


Mucho happy with the bake. I woke up, preheated to 450F for a few minutes (our oven is incredibly fast) and plopped that sucker onto the dutch oven and closed the lid. The dough was like a soft airy pillow, held shape very well and was incredibly light. 


The final product ended up being so light and airy that it is hard to cut without holding on for dear life. Great earthy flavor thanks to the buckwheat, not too sour considering a third of the weight was levain!

So, does anything matter? Do "rules" of baking apply? Yes and No. My bakery believes in science, but also intuition, and feeling what is right and when is right. Talk to your dough, make sure it's happy and ready for the next step regardless of what a recipe says the timeline should be. And, if you have a strong starter, you might be able to get away without feeding it for 3 days, throwing it cold into some dough, and baking a damn good loaf. 


Happy Baking, and most importantly...Relax!



yozzause's picture

Hi Rajan  that looks like a mighty fine loaf that you have produced there,  and i like your approach  3:2:1 is often the ratio i give people that are starting their s/d journey and probably come back on the water till they know they can handle it, your total hydration would be close to that if you say 66% water and then allow for the  the water part of the 100% hydration starter. Did you find the buckwheat thirsty and did it affect the stickiness of the dough at all?  i do think it looks really light and airey and nice even distribution of the holes in the crumb. Well Done i say and i have always believed our starters can take a little neglect and still perform very well, in the past i have found that if i want to achieve more sour that's the way to do it.  I do like the crouching Bunny shape in the  third photo. im sure you will have fun with your son in the future exploring the shapes that occur. How long now before you are admitted to the dads club?

Benito's picture

Beautiful bake and nice crumb Rajan.  Oh and by the way, there isn’t enough butter on your sandwich!😛


Breadifornia's picture

Nice bake! I think that "relax!" should be part of every recipe.  Good to know that starter straight from the fridge can do good things :)

Hotbake's picture

Oh I love that kind of even fluffy crumb! Need more butter tho haha