Author Topic: my levain  (Read 2547 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
my levain
« on: August 16, 2012, 08:30:22 PM »
After some reading on the internetz, I decided that I wanted to try to make/grow a levain.  I started on Monday, and the recipe I found was something like 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of water, mix it, and let it sit for 24 hours.  I should add that I was using only all-purpose flour, as per the recipe.

There wasn't too much activity, maybe a few bubbles.  I took out half as per the instructions, and added one cup of flour and a half cup of water.  I moved it from the counter to the top of the fridge, thinking maybe a little bit of warmth wouldn't hurt.

That night, the starter was to the top of the container (a 4 cup pyrex).  I was pretty excited!  I took out half, and added a half cup of water and a cup of flour.  The next morning I put a cover on it, although it was only partially on.  I was a little concerned that the top of the starter was a little crusty from drying out.  

I've taken out half, added stuff to it twice now (after 12 hour intervals), and although there are some surface bubbles, it hasn't really risen at all.  

Should I be concerned?  I realize this will take time, but I was just wondering what any of you might think.

Thanks!

Andy
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 08:35:52 PM by kramer73 »


Offline anton-luigi

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 159
Re: my levain
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 12:10:50 PM »
Well,  there are no real "hard and fast" rules in this scenario.  Basically you are hoping to grow something out of the flour you started with.  "what" you started with is a mystery,  you have no idea what was already sitting there waiting to grow.  Therefore you have no idea if,  and how long it will take to grow out,  it all depends on the yeast that was present ,  or whichever one has the ability to "overgrow" something else in the culture and dominate.  This is all fun,  and interesting to see what happens,  but in the end,  it seems much easier and more fruitful to just purchase a known sourdough culture and go from there.

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2628
Re: my levain
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 12:20:48 PM »
Also, if there are just surface bubbles it means that the levain is very liquid. Take the entire mixture and add enough flour to double it (don't discard anything). Add enough water to make a very soft dough. It should not be to the point of pourable, but just under. Let it sit, covered completely (sealed if possible), on the counter until it doubles. It may take a day, or two. If it doesn't, start over.

If it doubles, discard almost all of the mixture leaving a tablespoon or two in the bottom. Feed it with flour and water, about 3 tablespoons flour and enough water to get to the soft dough state, and let that double (or triple). Feed again, and you have your culture.

John

cornicione54

  • Guest
Re: my levain
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 12:35:46 PM »
Gosh I'm sorry I hadn't read this sooner, Andy. You've probably been hanging on to your levain wondering what the hell to do for the last few days!

Creating your own starter/levain can be as simple or as complicated as you like in terms of understanding what's going on. If it's any help - the behaviour you describe in your starter is completely within norms. That spike of activity you saw on the second day was a bacterial spurt and not indicative of your starter's leavening ability in the long run.

Keep feeding it, equal weight water and flour. Don't feed it too much each time. It's crucial in the early stages to get the starter to the right acidity for any potential yeast to start multiplying.

Also, and I realise it's kind of late in the day to be giving this advice: wholegrain flours are your friend. In particular: whole rye flour is, in my experience, the most reliable means to create a starter from scratch.  

Anyway, I hope that was of some help to you. Best of luck with your starter and to echo others comments here:- if it doesn't work out, you can always opt for a starter from sourdo.com  :)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 12:54:55 PM by cornicione54 »

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 07:37:41 PM »
oh, that's ok.  I got some rye flour last weekend and though I could jump-start what I had, but it didn't really change at all, and I admit that I got a little frustrated and gave up on it.

I started a new rye flour only starter today, so we'll see how that goes!  Thanks for the comments!!

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 09:22:00 PM »
ok, I'm back in the game!

This morning I took 4 oz of my starter and added 2 oz of flour and 1 oz of water.  I had it sit at room temp until 7 pm (approx 12 hours), and then added 8 oz of flour and 5 oz of water.  I mixed that in my mixer about 3 min), but it never really formed a ball.  I then added a tsp of salt and 1 1/2 TB of olive oil.  I mixed that for 10 min.  It still seemed loose, so I added 1.5 oz of flour to see if that would change it at all.  It didn't, so I put it in an lightly oiled ziploc bag and threw it in the fridge.  It's going to sit in there for 2 days. 

Is everything going to be ok, or will I have to add more flour later?

I'm using this recipe from Serious Eats:  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/12/starter-along-sourdough-pizza.html

thanks for any help!

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11660
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: my levain
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2012, 09:59:23 PM »
ok, I'm back in the game!

This morning I took 4 oz of my starter and added 2 oz of flour and 1 oz of water.  I had it sit at room temp until 7 pm (approx 12 hours), and then added 8 oz of flour and 5 oz of water.  I mixed that in my mixer about 3 min), but it never really formed a ball.  I then added a tsp of salt and 1 1/2 TB of olive oil.  I mixed that for 10 min.  It still seemed loose, so I added 1.5 oz of flour to see if that would change it at all.  It didn't, so I put it in an lightly oiled ziploc bag and threw it in the fridge.  It's going to sit in there for 2 days. 

Is everything going to be ok, or will I have to add more flour later?

I'm using this recipe from Serious Eats:  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/12/starter-along-sourdough-pizza.html

thanks for any help!


Nothing about that recipe makes sense to me. For one thing, thatís a ton of starter Ė when you add the flour and water to the starter and let it rest 12 hours, youíre basically making more starter.  Youíre in essence adding 7oz starter to 9.5oz flour (8.0 + 1.5). If your starter has much enzymatic activity, it doesnít surprise me that dissolved the gluten in your dough. Iím quite sure any of mine would at those quantities. By comparison, for 9.5oz flour, I would add 0.14oz starter.  I donít think things will get better in the fridge, and they will probably get worse. If you are going to add more flour and try to get it to come together, I would add it now.

Good luck. For the future, that's not a recipe I'd reccomend. IMHO, refrigerated fermentation is not the way to go with sourdough. In my experience, small quantities of culture and a couple days fermentation at room temperature will develop more flavor and perform better in the oven.

CL

I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2012, 10:31:18 PM »
hmmm.   Well, I'll take it out of the fridge and let it sit for a couple of days. 

I guess I'll see what happens!

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11660
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: my levain
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2012, 10:36:53 PM »
hmmm.   Well, I'll take it out of the fridge and let it sit for a couple of days. 

I guess I'll see what happens!

No - that's not what I meant. It will go crazy - way too much starter to go to room temp now for any length of time. I was suggesting that if you were going to add more flour and try to make it into a usable dough, you should do so now and then go back into the fridge with it - as opposed to try to make a dough out of it later. Then, the next time, look for a recipe that uses less starter and room temperature rise.

CL
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline pizzaneer

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1477
  • Location: Nirvana
  • Pizza and zen more pizza
Re: my levain
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2012, 10:46:21 PM »
Give up on it and make English muffins out of it.  See this excellent post:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20781.msg207586.html#msg207586

Then start over with a commercial starter, and follow their directions. 
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.


cornicione54

  • Guest
Re: my levain
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2012, 11:00:43 PM »
Give up on it and make English muffins out of it.  See this excellent post:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20781.msg207586.html#msg207586

Then start over with a commercial starter, and follow their directions. 

???
C'mon. Just because the dough recipe is suspect doesn't mean the starter is no good. 

@Kramer73
Since you've made the dough, it'll be worth finding out how it handles/bakes. However for future pizza doughs, you might want to refer to other recipes here on the forums which use considerably less levain in the final dough.


Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2012, 12:18:52 PM »
yep, I'm just going to keep trucking through this recipe and see what happens!

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2012, 12:53:32 PM »
alright, so after 2 days of sitting in the fridge (during which time the dough pretty much doubled), I took it out and let it sit for 2 hours at room temp.  The dough again doubled.  It was pretty nice to handle, although it did tear once near one of the corners.  Bake time was about 11 minutes at 500.  I think my only regret was not baking the crust a little first, and then topping it.  Otherwise it was pretty good!!

I think I'll start incorporating white flour now.  Although I used white flour with the above crust, I think the taste could have been a little better (although I'm not sure if it was because of the rye).

I'll also try to use one of the recipes here :)

cornicione54

  • Guest
Re: my levain
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2012, 01:08:10 PM »
alright, so after 2 days of sitting in the fridge (during which time the dough pretty much doubled), I took it out and let it sit for 2 hours at room temp.  The dough again doubled.  It was pretty nice to handle, although it did tear once near one of the corners.  Bake time was about 11 minutes at 500.  I think my only regret was not baking the crust a little first, and then topping it.  Otherwise it was pretty good!!

I think I'll start incorporating white flour now.  Although I used white flour with the above crust, I think the taste could have been a little better (although I'm not sure if it was because of the rye).

I'll also try to use one of the recipes here :)
Congrats! Good to hear your levain is working.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 11660
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: my levain
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2012, 01:14:02 PM »
I think I'll start incorporating white flour now.  Although I used white flour with the above crust, I think the taste could have been a little better (although I'm not sure if it was because of the rye).

How much of the total flour in the formula was rye?
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2012, 04:55:35 PM »
How much of the total flour in the formula was rye?

The only rye flour was the rye flour in the starter.  I'm not really great at math :(

On a sad note, I noticed the surface of the starter was kinda white last night.  I fed it again, but when I came home from work today, I saw the same thing.  I may have seen some fur as well.

I took a large amount of the starter out (focusing on the stuff on top), and kept a small amount in a new clean jar.  We'll see if the white stuff comes back, in which case I may have to start over, I think.

cornicione54

  • Guest
Re: my levain
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2012, 05:23:55 PM »
The only rye flour was the rye flour in the starter.  I'm not really great at math :(

On a sad note, I noticed the surface of the starter was kinda white last night.  I fed it again, but when I came home from work today, I saw the same thing.  I may have seen some fur as well.

I took a large amount of the starter out (focusing on the stuff on top), and kept a small amount in a new clean jar.  We'll see if the white stuff comes back, in which case I may have to start over, I think.

Don't worry too much about fur. Just scrape it off. No need to make drastic decisions yet.  How much flour and water are you feeding the starter?


Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2012, 05:59:56 PM »
Don't worry too much about fur. Just scrape it off. No need to make drastic decisions yet.  How much flour and water are you feeding the starter?



1 oz flour (rye) and 1 oz water. 

cornicione54

  • Guest
Re: my levain
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2012, 06:05:39 PM »
1 oz flour (rye) and 1 oz water. 

and how much (old) starter is that feeding? (ie how much are you retaining)

Offline kramer73

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 99
Re: my levain
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2012, 11:36:59 PM »
starting tonight, it is feeding approx. 5 oz. of starter.  I didn't weigh it when I added it to a clean jar, but I have a jar that is basically the same (working in a lab, I know that jars/beakers don't weigh the same even if they look the same).



 

pizzapan