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Need help with my Lievito Madre - first time panettone baker!

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

Need help with my Lievito Madre - first time panettone baker!

I started making three different LMs this week based on blog and instagram feeds I was reading. Two were dry LMs (not in a water bath) and these are working really well (one was from a liquid starter and one was from scratch using honey and water). I am using 13.5% high protein flour (from Central Milling) for all LMs. My water bath LM has been causing problems. On the first 12 hour period, the madre floated beautifully (I used 50 g liquid starter plus 100 g high protein flour and 35 g water). I fed it  after 12 hours (at 28C) with 100g flour and 35 g water (plus 50g of the madre), and it stopped floating. After 4 days, it still has not floated. The madre is very tough and hard to knead. With each feeding I use 50 g madre, plus 100 g flour and 35 g water. I read somewhere that the high-protein flour may be too refined, so yesterday I made a second batch in which I used 20 g artisan flour (11.5% protein) and 80 g high protein. It has been a little bit more successful in that it floated eventually, and is easier to knead. But it still isn't floating fully. I also read that the water may be a factor. I have well water, so I switched my original madre (made just with high protein flour) to bottled water. This morning, I also made a new madre from my liquid starter using only bottled water. And like my first batch, it also floated within one hour, but I have not yet fed it. So, in total, I have three water bath madres:

1. Original madre: floated during the first 12 hours, but not since. This morning I switched it to bottled water. I am on DAY FOUR now

2. Different flour ratio from the original madre: yesterday I made a separate LM using the original madre plus 80:20 high to medium protein content flour. I am still using my tap water for this one. This one partially floated last night, and is now on DAY 4 (but only 1 day in mixed flour)

3. New madre: started today in exactly the same way as before except only using bottled water

Can anybody give me some advice? I am very new to this!

Many many thanks,

Paula

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Hey Paula! I feel your pain. For the last month I have been working to establish a LM. I am burning through very expensive Italian flour. It is hard getting information. Most articles are written in Italian, but I’m sure you already know that :-)

What resources are you using for information?

Do you think your starter may be too dry? Looks like you are working with 35%. Maybe we can learn together. Mine are rising fairly well, but I am struggling to get them to triple in 4 hours. When Infirst amde it it quadrupled, but no longer.

Danny

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

Hi Danny, I am trying three different approaches:

1. I'm using the protocol from this website (which is made from scratch): https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/lievito-madre-recipe/

2. I'm using this recipe which starts with liquid starter: https://breadtopia.com/naturally-leavened-christmas-panettone/

3. for my bathed LM (starting from liquid culture), I have been following sourdough Sophia on instagram

The first two seem to be working well, but the third one is NOT working. I'm experimenting with different water and different flour ratios, but I'm wondering whether I should have not gone completely to high protein flour straight off?

For trouble shooting: https://allyoukneadisbread.com/troubleshooting-my-lievito-madre/

How are you approaching it?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Three Lievito Madres at one time! You are devoted... The flour company must love you :-)

The link you referenced, an Italian in my Kitchen has given me a beneficial tip! I have been placing my LM crossed and in a cloth lined bowl. It is impossible to determine the exact rise. The jar with a cracked lid is a simple idea, but I think it will be a great help for me. THANKS!

I have been reading and re-reading “All you Knead is Bread”. I've tries a number of her suggestions.

Here are some resources you may not have seen.
https://staffoflife.wordpress.com/natural-yeast-lievito-naturale/
https://italiasquisita.net/it/posts/il-rinfresco-del-lievito-madre

Anything by Eva of Bake-Street.com is fantastic! Check out her recipe section...
https://bake-street.com/en/how-to-make-stiff-sourdough-for-panettone/
https://bake-street.com/en/how-to-make-the-3-preparatory-refreshments/

I have pestered Michael Wilson over the years. We have become friends and he is working with me to sort out the LM.  Am happy to share anything I learn, but like you I am in the infants stage. I’ve blown through about 10 kilos of imported Italian flour and I’m not ready to quit.

Lets travel down this road together.

OH! Kristen of Full Proof Baking has published a PDF on LM. She will be editing the file to correct and better instruct in the near future. Those that have d/l it will be notified once the update is published. It can be downloaded using the link below. It is an informative article that I think you will enjoy.

Look for “Pasta Madre/Lievito Madre” link on this page.
https://gumroad.com/fullproofbaking

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

... I had seen some of these links, but certainly not all of them. These are very helpful, thank you. I will read this through overnight and come back with questions. My unbathed LMs are growing nicely, but it's just the water bath ones that are causing trouble!

Have you overcome the sinking issue?

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Never had a problem floating the LM.

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

Hi Danny, 

My LM is still not floating :~( .... I changed the water, and I also changed the flour ratio, but still no luck. Perhaps I should focus the cloth wrapping method?

Any thoughts?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Paula, did you get my PM? We can talk if you want.

It is my understanding that water ferment and binding is used for overnight storage and longer. The refresh is done at ~4 hr intervals at ~82F. So, for example - I do 2 refresh @ 82F for 4 hr and a bound storage @ ~63F that last overnight. Then start the process again the next day.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Paula, are you seeing any progress with your LM?

Mine is starting to get stronger, but still have a way to go. I’ve gone through ~10k of mostly Italian flour feeding these beast  :-) Yesterday I broke down and ordered 25 kilos of Caputo American so that I can ride this baby to victory.

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

It's definitely getting stronger, but it's taking several hours to float. My dry Lis are doing much better, especially the one that is cloth bound. I bought 50 lbs high-mountain flour, but I'm still not sure if this is the best to use. The problem is that I have so may different LM experiments going at once!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

One needs to be mentally stable to deal with a Lievito Madre, it could easily drive a person over the edge :-)

Mine is consistently growing to 2 1/4 and no more. I am thinking about starting over. What type of honey is best to use?

Guess what? I just bought 25k of Caputo Americana. It seems we are both dedicated to this venture.

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

I used regular "wild flower" honey, but one of the website links I have has a recipe for starting with "apple water". Another uses raisins. I don't know if there is a difference.

It's a passion or an obsession - not sure which!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I was able to build a viable starter in 3 days started by making an Apple Yeast Water. Never tried honey though. It seems fresh honey from a local bee keeper would be best. I may hit up my friend down the road.

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

Can I join this discussion as I'm also going down this path. .....

 

my starter has never failed me but I'm getting this weird feeling in my gut that something isn't quite right.

I had made a stiff starter out of my 100% starter 2 weeks ago. I'd fed it daily for two weeks and where I started with 1:1:.45 I ended up with 1:4:.45 after two weeks as it was just growing faster and faster. I gave it a sugar bath twice, honestly I cared for it better than a new born baby. I had all my ingredients laid out and I've read more websites, blogs, and watched so many youtube channels I thought I'd go cross eyed. I've made panettone in a professional bakery before, but that's with someone elses managed levain, not my own and mixed in a professional spiral mixer under the guidance of a master baker.
I didn't think I'd get stuck, but I was prepared for whatever could fail....I had planned to do my three quick back to back feeds saturday, make the first dough late saturday night and the second dough today. Everything went fine, my first dough got mixed and never rose in temperature above 24C, well under the recommended threshold. I used my KA professional and chilled my dough once during the mixing. 45 minutes on speed 1 and it was gorgeous, silky and not sticky at all. Put it to ferment overnight at 25C (my brilliant mind at midnight was afraid it would ferment too fast so I set my proofer lower) Well it's 18 hours later and my dough hasn't risen at all, like not even a tiny bit. There are some signs of fermentation going on, but my word....they are taking their time. Now I'm afraid if it rises at all, it's going to develop too much sourness....
So that's where I am....very tired and wishing I hadn't agreed to make panettone for everyones Christmas gifts this year.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Julie, you started feeding 1 to 1 and then went to 1 to 4? Is such a high feed ratio recommended? I’m new at this, but haven’t read that anywhere.

Believe me! I know exactly what you mean when you liken caring for the LM, as you would a baby... over the last month I’ve gone through over 10k of expensive Italian flour and still can’t maintain a 3x rise in 3.5-4 hours.

Please keep us posted of your progress.

Danny

If you have a list of resources you’ve used to learn Lievito Madre, please list them. English instructions have not been easy to come by. 

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

Danny,

I mostly followed Kristen's guide from gumroad.com which I know is basically a compilation of all the information she has researched. I only did two days at 1:4:.45 because every day it was growing faster and faster and faster.
I've also read pretty much every single page at : Translated page of www.lievitonaturale.org


I haven't used a lot of flour (Caputo Manitoba) because I've kept my feeds at something like 10gr : 20gr : 9gr
I really felt like my starter was ready yesterday, but I guess it wasn't.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I only did two days at 1:4:.45 because every day it was growing faster and faster and faster.
Go ahead - rub it in... <I am laughing out loud>

Mine starter out growing like crazy, but within a few days had quieted down. It is feed 3x daily for the last month or so, and no matter what I try it won’t rise past 2 1/4 in the allotted 4hr @ 82F.

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

Normally I'm pretty good at trouble shooting levain and bread issues....but I think at this point it's the blind leading the blind. ?

What method / site are you following?

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Michael Wilson has been working with me. Thank God for his patience :-)
https://staffoflife.wordpress.com/natural-yeast-lievito-naturale/

I am doing 2) 4 hour refresh @ 82F and an overnight cool storage for ~16 hr @ 63F (daily routine)
LM is bathed n sugar water solution after overnight storage.
All feeds are 50:25:50

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

I'm afraid that I cannot help because I'm newer than the two of you, but it gives me hope that it's not just me who struggles! Julie, if all looked well until your second dough, it seems to me that the yeast was doing just fine until at least the first dough, so could something have happened then? Did the temperature rise too far? (again, I am a total novice, so forgive the naive questions)

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

I never got to the second dough. ? The first dough only every rose maybe 10% in 36 hours.

paula_ithaca's picture
paula_ithaca

I read somewhere (I've looked at so many sites now, I can't remember where) that the order in which you add your ingredients is important - could that have been the problem with dough 1?

 

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

I don't know. I had trouble getting the mix going as it's so dry. I finally realized I needed to use the paddle in the beginning.
I left my first dough just to see if it would ever do anything and it's now 36 hours later and it's almost doubled and continuing to grow. ??? I don't know whether I will go on with the second dough or not.
I have just refreshed my starter to try again this weekend.