The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some interesting observations about lievito madre

Abe's picture
Abe

Some interesting observations about lievito madre

For this last week I've been making and nurturing a lievito madre. Started last Tuesday evening and tonight (exactly a week later) it's fully matured and has just been prepped for the first bread trial. The process I've followed was basically my own however it's now being maintained more traditionally which I'll explain at the end of the post.

Tuesday night I made a piece of dough, just flour and water, of no specific measurements. Flattened it out into a disc and made an indentation. Poured some water into it and left it for 1.5 days after which it had absorbed most of the water and puffed up. 

From here on in at 24 hourly intervals I fed it: 1:2.5:5. 

Second feed puffed up really well too and from then onwards while it still moved in the right direction it was slower but dictated a feed once a day. 

While bubbles were evidently present the piece of dough, which was 50% hydration, soon spread out to fill the bottom of the container and rose. Bubbles never breaking the surface but underneath there was plenty however the inside was very gooey and broken down. 

Then all of a sudden it's whole behaviour has changed. I've started to feed it 1:0.5:1 (a more traditional LM maintenance feed since it has been showing more activity) and while this is a poorer feed and should be more prone to degradation of the dough it's actually making the dough stronger. It doesn't do anything spectacular like tripling in 4 hours but then again I'm using durum flour and haven't yet done 3 successive feeds 4 hours apart, however when it comes to feeding the dough has loads more bubbles inside and it's strong! When young the low hydration dough would soon spread to fill the container but now it puffs up and rises keeping its shape. While the inside of the dough is well fermented it's not gooey and sticky anymore. The aroma is more crisp and fruity at first giving way to more yeasty aroma if left to ferment for longer. 

My aim is to always build more then I need and keep the remainder in the fridge immersed in water. I don't wish to continually feed it, wrap it in cloth, tie it with string nor bathe it. Instead before baking I'll take it out and build it up with the traditional 1:0.5:1 feeds and always build extra to use next time. 

Can't tell you about the other properties yet but it's interesting so far and it's be good to have one liquid starter and another stiff starter maintained as a LM. 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Interesting Abe, I can't quite picture what you mean about indentation and water, do you have a picture?

Abe's picture
Abe

When I did a barley bread a long time ago. The instructions were very brief and simply explained to make a starter one should make a stiff piece of dough, flatten out into a disc and make an indentation. Pour a little water into that indentation and leave it forms few days. The dough begins to absorb the water, puff up and crack. That was it! It worked well with barley flour so I just decided on a whim to do this with durum flour. Once the initial fermentation had started I began to cultivate it the more, so called, traditional way.