The Fresh Loaf

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Levain Ratio

fausto.branco's picture

Levain Ratio

Hi! My name is Fausto, I have made bread at home using Levain for a few years, always in a very homemade way, I stopped for a period and I'm coming back again with the breads and Levains, but I'm studying more, reviewing some recipes, proportions, procedures, etc.

I always used the 1:2:2 ratio in preparing the dough, of course, it always gets sourer.

I have doubts about some proportions that I have found in some books, but I cannot find the explanation of why.
1:2:2, 1:1:2, 1:2:3 to 1:4:4 or greater.

What are the characteristics of fermentation and flavor of bread when the proportion of flour and water in the preparation of Levain is increased?

Can you help me?

foodforthought's picture

You’re asking several questions, so I‘ll take a whack at ratios. The way I use ratios is to extend or shorten my levain build. I usually plan a 3-generation levain build over 36 hours. If my starter is really lively (which it has been lately), I will use  1:2:2 or 1:3:3 in order to get peak activity in 10-12 hours. So first generation will get 5 g starter, 10 g water and 10 g flour, gen 2 will add at least 50 g each water and flour, final generation will depend on where I want to land, which is usually at 300-350 g of levain.

If I need to speed up a generation I would maybe go 1:1:1 or even 1:.5:.5. Is this making sense?

Other people might use ratios to manage other properties of bread but for me it’s all about how much levain I want for my dough. For a 2 kg batch of dough, I generally will supplement 350 g of levain with 250-300 g of poolish or biga, so I’ll approach 1/3 pre-fermented flour in most recipes. Many people use a stricter adherence to formulas but I choose to avoid the discard problem by using all the levain I make. Works for me. People like my bread.

Hope this helps,