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Author Topic: Stiff vs liquid levain  (Read 2053 times)

Offline Zeb

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Stiff vs liquid levain
« on: October 21, 2010, 04:59:36 PM »
Jacqueline recently emailed me about Jeffrey Hamelman and the different levain styles he uses in 'Bread'.  I have to admit that I don't really have any clear idea why some recipes are written with a stiff levain and some with a liquid one.  Have I missed the part in the book where he explains this?  :hmm:

 I visited the Fresh Loaf to see if someone there knew the answer and there are lots of posts about it. One simply said that the stiff levains are what commercial bakers tend to use because it is more practical. Is that all there is to it? Does anyone have an easy-to-understand explanation of the different levains?  :D
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Offline Paul

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Re: Stiff vs liquid levain
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2010, 05:37:52 PM »
I have always just used the 100% hydration levain, except for one loaf recently where I added a few grams more flour to the levain build to make it "stiff". And we're talking about a tablespoon of levain here so even the adjustment was barely any extra flour.

Based on my gleaming of many FreshLoaf posts, I think  :hmm: that much of the point behind stiff levain is easier keeping (more food, longer fridge staying power) although there may also be a certain amount of flavour difference.

If I recall correctly - and that's a bit of a stretch - the stiffer texture promotes... well damn, now I can't recall which, but it's either one of the two lactos or the yeast. Helpful, no? But I may also be confusing this with warmer or cooler retarding... :soWrong:

So the bottom line is: I haven't seen any solid explanation about the differences either.

Mini Oven is a huge fan of stiff levain. Perhaps you can get a definitive response directly from her.

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I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

Offline Jacqueline

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Re: Stiff vs liquid levain
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2010, 11:16:06 PM »
Based on my two recent excursions into stiff-levain territory, all I can say so far is that there doesn't seem to make much difference to the final loaf, but the mixing is a heck of a lot harder!

However, it makes sense that a stiffer levain would be more controllable in hot weather, and for that reason I'll keep practicing with it. We get runs of week after week here in summer when the temperature is 35C and higher, and I do find the liquid levain runs away from me- you could refresh it every four hours if you were able to.

Thanks! Jacqueline