Levain — second try

Levain — second try
Originally uploaded by anselm23.

Levain, the holy of holies of French country bread, is made by
harvesting yeast from organic grapes eight to ten days before you
begin baking. Once baked, it yields a chef, or starter, which is used to make successive versions of the same bread. Mine is a little flatter than I intended. I did not renew the wild yeast with new yeast. I think that the bread itself still looks extraordinary. I wish I had retained more of the bubbly liquid that makes the chef, but it goes rancid fairly rapidly. In the meantime, I have six starters waiting for attention, in addition to this one — who provided a daughter of her own.

I haven’t tried it yet. But it is simply the most beautiful bread I have ever made.

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  1. I really want to take the cheesemaking classes with the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. this summer. Maybe Leah and I and you and Ted can go together?

  2. Andrew that is a fine looking bread!!! Very impressive!

    I have been bread baking many weekends recently and enjoying it a lot. Bob and I took 3 yeast bread making classes last year.

    In that class they mentioned that organic fruit based starters do tend to “overripen” like you described… apparently it’s harder to get it started, but you can make a starter with organic ground whole wheat ripened in open air that’s milder and can be refreshed and used over time.

    Another thing from those classes – if you haven’t heard these — you can get a “stronger” rise, e.g. to keep a free-form loaf from flattening too much by doing one of these things —
    – add diastatic malt powder (enzymes break down starch to make more sugar available to the yeasts)
    – add vital wheat gluten (additional protein to hold those bubbles more strongly), or
    – use some bread flour mixed with AP flour if you only used AP flour (again because it has more protein.)

    But this is all nitpicky stuff, because that bread looks really fantastic!!!!

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