Inspired by William Alexander‘s new book 52 LOAVES, One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning and a Perfect Crust, I am in my third week of learning how to bake bread from a natural starter, called levain.
This week, I fed and aerated my levain daily. For four days, I added equal amounts of flour and unchlorinated water and stirred it as often as I remembered. William Alexander suggests that it be whipped every few hours; I stuck with the less scientific “whenever I walk through the kitchen” for my schedule.
Last week’s thick glob of “I’m not so sure I did this right” has grown to a stirrable, rising, and bubbling starter for future loaves of bread. Now that my levain has been created, it is ready for use. However, it will continue to develop flavor over the next few weeks.
To keep my levain at the ready to form the starter of bread, it is stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. For the next few weeks, I’ll feed it twice a week, by stirring thoroughly, discarding about 250 grams of the levain and replacing it with 125 grams each of water and flour. (Who knew that raising my own yeast would require more care and attention than my pet betta?)
Next on my agenda, BAKING! Be sure to check in next week to find out how the bread turns out!