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How to Make Einkorn Sourdough Levain

How to Make Einkorn Sourdough Levain

Mastering Einkorn Sourdough Bread is a new collection of instructional videos, along with step-by-step recipes and photos that will coach you on your journey to becoming an experienced einkorn sourdough bread baker. In Lesson 1, Carla demonstrated how to create an einkorn sourdough starter. In Lesson 2, you will now learn how to make Einkorn Sourdough Levain.

Once your starter is strong and bubbling within 6 to 10 hours after refreshing, you are ready to bake bread. There are different ways to use your starter in baking bread:

  • Straight Sourdough Starter– this method adds a small piece of sourdough starter directly into the dough, usually about 60 g, for a long, slow rise. This method is preferred for making einkorn flatbreads and pizza, or for use in overnight breads. 
  • Sourdough Levain– a smaller piece of starter, about 30 g, is mixed with water and flour into a wet batter. Left to rise for 6 to 10 hours, it becomes very active and bubbly and will allow your bread to rise quicker than using straight starter. This method is preferred for many of our einkorn bread recipes, like sandwich loaves, French Boule, and bagels.

Einkorn Sourdough Levain

Making a sourdough levain is easy, you just have to get accustomed to the timing. Once you mix up your final bread dough, it will have to rise, be shaped, then rise again before going in the oven and cooling before slicing. The whole process will take at least 6 hours, but closer to 8 if your starter is new. Therefore, you will have to mix up the levain 6 to 10 hours prior. Prolonging rise times is not a bad thing, it can make better bread, so it is always better to plan on needing more time.

If you are having guests over for dinner and you would like fresh bread to slice at 6 pm, you should mix up the levain at night before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, mix up the dough and proceed with letting it rise. This is normally how I bake bread because it leaves me ample time during the day to watch the dough. You are also giving the levain a long time to rise, which is preferred to trying to rush the process along


  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) Einkorn Sourdough Starter (can be cold right out of the refrigerator or you can use starter that has been refreshed and left to rise for at least 6 hours)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 g) warm water, at 100°F
  • 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose einkorn flour or 1¼ cups (120 g) whole grain einkorn flour


  1. In glass container that you can seal tightly or in a medium bowl, mix the starter and water together with a fork, pressing on the starter until it dissolves. Add the flour and mix until the flour is dissolved. Seal tightly or cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a dark place for 6 to 10 hours.

The levain is ready to use when the batter looks very wet and you can see large bubbles on the surface. If your starter is new, this may take up to 24 hours. Do not bake bread if you do not see bubbling because your bread will not rise. If you still do not see bubbling after 24 hours, it means your starter is not strong enough. You can still bake bread by adding ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast to the mixture and letting it sit out for 3 to 4 hours more. Keep refreshing for a few days, then try again.

12 Responses to How to Make Einkorn Sourdough Levain

  1. cathy says:

    Great instructions and information, but the blog instructions say 120g of whole wheat flour and the video says 96g whole wheat flour if using whole wheat for the levin, does it matter?

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks. I love seeing these videos. I’m hoping to see links to specific recipes to use the levain in, and videos too. I’m a little confused about how to substitute the levain for recipes where it says to use sourdough starter.

  3. Julie says:

    (EDITED!)Good morning, I think my starter is close to belng ready to bake. Lots of bubbles on bottom of starter visible through underside of glass dish. I’d like to try the Artisian or no-knead overnight round loaves. I’d like to make a half recipe verses the larger boules that use 6 cups of flour. Would that be a successful test loaf or should I just go ahead and use the 6 cup as-written recipe?
    Also…I do not yet have a large cast iron pot…Just smaller ones. I read elsewhere that a covered casserole or an All-clad covered pot also works. Your thoughts? Thank you in advance for your advice and instructions.

    • jovial says:

      With a new starter, it is best to bake with a levain, so the artisan bread would be preferred over the overnight, which is made with straight sourdough. You could half the recipes, don’t cut back on the 25g in the levain, but half all of the water, flour and salt in both the levain and the dough. Bake for 30, instead of 40 minutes. This is your first loaf, so let the dough rise for 5 hours, shape the loaf, then let it rise for at least 2 more hours before baking.

  4. Lola Cusson says:

    Hell Carla

    in you video on how to make sourdough starter day 1to day 3 is very simple . it seems to me that starting form day 4 we are already getting red of the starter and just use 10 grams of starter 60grams of flour and 30 grams of water, I am confused are we suppose to get rid of the all the starter starting from day four and is day four already began to refresh?
    I made a mistake on day 5 by adding 45 gr of water;I did not want to get rid of the starter so today I restarted day five my flour was very dry I had to add 2tsp of warm water can I continue or should I start all over. I have been using the recipe in the book last yr. and the bread came out great.
    I came bout the video of einkorn flour last yr. and extremely exited about finding out that we can still eat wheat and be healthy.
    I grew up in Naples Italy I can still remember the days when my mother use to send me to pick up freshly baked Pane Integrale( giu’ al palazzo alla salumeria) Beautiful memories I was 17 when I came in this country Italy is in me How can I forget. God bless you
    Thank You

    I a disappointed I hope it will work

    • jovial says:

      From Day 5, you are refreshing with 10g of starter from the day before. The rest is not used for refreshing but you can add it to other doughs if you are baking yeasted einkorn bread while you are creating your starter. Make sure you use a baking scale and weigh everything. We’re happy you are enjoying einkorn wheat!

    • lola Cusson says:

      Ciao Carla
      I decided to continue from day 5 by repeating day 5 once again , continued to follow your method; to my surprise the sour dough has lots of bubbles, it is day 7. I am on my way to do some baking by the week end. Exited !Thank you.

  5. Susan says:

    I’m about to make my second batch of your bagels because the first batch was excellent! Question:
    Thinking of making them cranberry orange pecan. Will orange zest affect the dough? I wouldn’t want to use juice, but is the zest ok? And would you add it in when you first mix the dough, or when? I’m assuming that blending in the cranberries are no problem. I’m a little concerned about pecans on top burning, so when should I add them in?

    • jovial says:

      Glad the bagels turned out great for you. Add all of the ingredients when you mix the dough. The pecans will burn on the top because bagels are baked at really high temperatures, but after shaping you can gently push them into the dough.

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