The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Super Sourdough James Morton book - The Work Cycle

juanis's picture

Super Sourdough James Morton book - The Work Cycle

Hello everyone, I am a keen beginner baker and just bought the book from James Morton Super Sourdough. I will try the main recipe for Pain au Levain with the work schedule from page 73. It says on the first step: "mix half the recipe's flour and water, make a levain. Mix the other half together to autolyse. Leave both at room temperature. 

As the recipe includes flour, water, salt and sourdough starter, it is not clear if I should use the starter in the levain or it is just mixing the flour and water? It is not clearly explained..

Any suggestions would be welcome. 






idaveindy's picture

Welcome to TFL!

Many cookbook authors explain their procedures early on in their books, and don't repeat the nitty-gritty basics for each recipe.

But, many new cooks jump right in to a particular recipe without first reading the earlier "how to" chapters.

I don't have that book, but I would suspect that somewhere in pages 1 through 72, he explains how he wants his readers  to "make a levain."    Generally speaking, a levain consists of: starter, plus water, plus flour.  But timing is also critical to success. 

There should be some instructions on starters and levains, and how to tell when your starter is "ready" to make a levain, and how to tell when your levain is "ready" to make the bread in a given recipe.  

And be advised, there is no one universal rule about when a levain is ready to make bread. It depends on the recipe or the author's system.

Good luck, amigo!  And bon appétit.

justkeepswimming's picture

I just recently purchased that book as well. The index in this book is better than some, and I have been enjoying reading some of the chapters leading up to his recipes. It's giving me a better understanding of how he does things as I start looking at the recipes.

Best I can see so far, the work flow on pg 73 summarizes some of the info on previous pages. If you look in pages 10, 46, and 81-82, he gives more details about building a levain.

Let us know how your bake turns out!


juanis's picture

Thanks for the comments! I had a look at the previous pages and the definition of Levain in the book, and indeed the levain is made using the starter, plus flour and water. But in the "work schedule cycle" I think he forgets to mention to use the starter to make the levain. I do not see much point of using a levain with half the quantities and autolyse with the other half of the ingredients, but I guess it's a technique for a faster prove.