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Author Topic: Stiff to Liquid Levain  (Read 3913 times)

Offline charliez

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Stiff to Liquid Levain
« on: February 06, 2012, 08:35:17 PM »
I have found several methods to transform liquid levain to a stiff one
(Hamelman book for example) but I am interested in converting a stiff levain
to a liquid levain.


I am nurturing a stiff levain following the recipe in Maggie Glazers book and
all is going fine but it is a pain in the arse to feed it each time.  I have read
that feeding a liquid levain is much more simpler because it is liquid and the
mixing is so much easier.

So... any pointer would be greatly appreciated...


Offline Paul

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Re: Stiff to Liquid Levain
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 10:53:50 PM »
Hi Carlos,

OK, here's the secret formula. Ready?

Add a lump of stiff starter to a small jar, maybe 10 grams. Add a set weight of water, let's say 20 grams. Mix with a fork to break up the lump into the water fairly well. Doesn't need to be perfect. Add 20 grams of your desired flour, mix to a thick paste texture. In effect, this is a 1:2:2 feed ratio so whatever you keep from the old batch you feed twice that weight in water and in flour.

And now you too are the proud owner of a 100% hydration starter.

OK, with the stiff ball in there now, it's not exactly 100% but in a couple more feeds (reduce to 10 g, add 20 g water, 20 g flour as above) you'll basically be at 100% in just a couple of turns.

Adjust the size of your new Mother starter so it's easy to build up to your "standard" amount needed to make your go-to bread.

For example, I did a lot of Hamelman breads and he normally wants 30 g of starter to build the overnight levain for pretty much all his recipes, which then gets built up to 349 g or whatever (I'm making that number up). By keeping my mother at 50 grams, when I reduce it back to 10 for a feed, I have 40 grams of excess, perfect for a batch of bread with a bit to spare (left on spoon, bowl, etc.).

Now looking at a random leaven bread out of Handmade, (Sweet rye bread) he wants 200g of rye starter. If I divide that amount by 5, I get 40g which is precisely what I'll have as excess from a feed. To that I'd then add 80 g rye flour and 80 g water and presto, I have my 200g of rye starter.

A little further, he wants just 100g of white starter for another loaf. Same deal, except I just need to use 20g of my excess and add 40g white flour + 40 g water.

Yes, I would use the same white starter for both a rye and a white loaf. If I was running a bakery, then I'm make a deal of keeping two different types. But for weekend baking, one starter, fed the right flour for the build-up is quite fine.
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Offline charliez

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Re: Stiff to Liquid Levain
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 11:53:39 AM »
Thanks Paul,

Everything is working fine per your instructions.

Now I am keeping two starters.  The liquid one with a 1:2:2 feeding and the stiff one with a 1:2:3 feeding.

They are both like 3 weeks old so they are not reacting too much.  They double in size in 12 hours.

I will convert the stiff one to  a rye starter later on just like the "boss" Hamelman does, so then I will be ready for his book challenge.

I just baked the Vermont Sourdough last weekend to try the stiff levain.  It was interesting.  The dough does not "lift" or raise too much as I expected (all my previous bakes were using commercial instant yeast).  But the bread came out interesting.  The crumb showed mainly small bubbles with a few bigger ones (I will upload pictures when I learn how to download from my camera) and the crust was hard (harder than I am used to) but tasty.

Oh well, just practicing before the real challenge starts...