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
- 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.