I haven’t posted many bread baking blogs lately…I’ve just been too busy! But here’s what I am working on: I recently started cultivating a classic sourdough starter. It has been bubbling away for about 3 weeks now, and I plan to make some sourdough breads with it soon. I also just started making a rye-wheat based levain, or pre-ferment. A rye levain is an essential ingredient in many French and European breads. In case you’re wondering, rye flour has a higher proportion of wild yeast spores, and preparing a levain creates an ecosystem containing active yeast cultures, such as L. sanfranciscensis.
Levain and sourdough are considered cousins. Sourdough uses all-purpose flour, and maintains a pure white color. Rye levain is darker in color, and the amount used in recipes doesn’t necessarily give bread that “sourdough” taste, but it does provide leavening power. About 40% of the recipes in the FCI book use a rye levain.
I’ll post several blogs here in the upcoming weeks once I am able to experiment with the sourdough and levain preparations. And don’t worry – casual home bakers don’t typically need to start their own pre-ferments to enjoy baking bread. You normally just need some instant dry yeast. I just want to try some breads that have been previously off-limits for the home baker.