The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Experimenting with young levain

citygirlbaker's picture
citygirlbaker

Experimenting with young levain

I know this is a controversial technique but wanted to give it a shot. 

Made this loaf with a young levain fed at 1:10:10.  The levain hadn't even doubled yet but easily passed the float test.  Levain smelled mild / sweet at time of use. 

I can't say there's much of a difference in the openness of the crumb, but it is definitely less acidic / tangy.  

Kmilligan's picture
Kmilligan

That looks like a nice crumb and a great oven spring. What do you bake them on?

citygirlbaker's picture
citygirlbaker

Thanks so much!

I baked this one in a Lodge Combo Cooker.  Bulk fermented for ~3.5 hours and did a final rise in the fridge for ~12 hours.  

I do have to say my loaf with a young levain seems smaller in size - I wonder why?

HansB's picture
HansB

I recently saw a video with Chad Robertson, he states that he's now using a two hour old levain.

citygirlbaker's picture
citygirlbaker

Two hours?!  In order to lower the sourness?  Can a loaf properly rise with such a young levain?!  

Abe's picture
Abe

And give the dough however long it needs then sure it can. The young levain is just to lower the sour. If you have a young levain with 20g mature starter then even if the levain is way below what we call mature then why shouldn't the final dough rise when that 20g starter would suffice alone if given time? Also we don't have the young levain ratios here. If the mature starter was 20g and the levain was 1:1:1 then 2 hours would be sufficient in taking away the tang plus give it a little extra leavening power if warm enough. I agree it sounds very quick but if it's the video I've seen then not all the info is given and it's difficult to call judgement however as long as a dough is given enough time it should do the job. 

P.s. a young levain is normally done in two stages...

  1. a normal starter feed and allowed to mature. 
  2. a quick feed at a lower ratio to take the tang away. 

It wouldn't be a one off 1:10:10 and caught early before it matures. Look up "double fed sweet levain" by Forkish which follows the same principle. 

citygirlbaker's picture
citygirlbaker

This is very helpful - thank you. 

My mature starter is fed at 1:1:1 and with this loaf, I fed 10g of this mature starter with 100g flour and 100g water.  Is the idea that if the mature "seed" starter is vigorous in and of itself, then the resulting levain could still have strong leavening power even if the levain is young?

Abe's picture
Abe

A starter build that has fully matured and it's leavening power is strong. Then there is a quick levain build which is not a huge feed but enough to take away the tang and can be ready in a short amount of time so it's effective but not as mature. When a levain, or starter, is fed there will be a range of maturity. From young and not very tangy to very mature and tangy. The first build builds up strength and will be left till full maturity however long it needs for the feed given. The second build is a lower ratio so it is ready to use sooner and caught while it's young. But it won't be 1:10:10 and used after two hours. 

albacore's picture
albacore

If you listen to the Jennifer Latham/Chad audiobook, she talks about an overnight levain followed by a morning booster levain at arouind 1:1 with a temp of about 29C. for about 3 hours.

It's a good way to make a mild but active levain.

Lance

Abe's picture
Abe

I'm not surprised it ferments quickly. Good terminology - a booster levain. 

Thank you Lance. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Very nice loaf with lovely scoring, very very attractive.

Benny

citygirlbaker's picture
citygirlbaker

Thank you Benny!

Kmilligan's picture
Kmilligan

Do you add moisture to the bread at the beginning of the bake? Could have left it to proof on counter after shaping before fridging to get a little more oven spring. 

citygirlbaker's picture
citygirlbaker

Thank you for this!  

At which point at the beginning of the bake do you recommend adding moisture?  Spritzing water on top of the dough before scoring?  

Noted re: proof on counter.  I do let it proof a little bit before throwing the dough in the fridge, but next time I'll wait until I see a bit of rise before refrigerating.