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Leaven Starting & Keeping

 I prefer to start a leaven with rye flour. Rye is the most inexpensive grain (beside barley) I keep on hand. The organisms living upon the grain are hardy and ready to eat. 

Start by mixing 1/4 cup water and enough flour to make a pancake batter texture mix. Leave out with a cloth to cover. The following day, add the same amount of flour and water. The next day, remove half, add the same amounts of each again and allow to ferment another 24 hours. After this second "feeding", the day after there should be bubbles. If not, start over. I usually switch to spelt when bubbling gets vigorous with the rye. You may continue using it to feed your leaven, if you don't wish to use the spent leaven as food...rye has a strong flavor so I prefer feeding mine spelt, since I make crepes, gravies and many more things with my spent leaven.

2017 - Ezekiel - יְחֶזְקֵ֨אל

If you keep your leaven out on the counter, you'll need to feed it once every 24 hours.

I like to feed mine in the afternoon, so that I can ferment dough overnight. If I want to make naan or pizza for dinner, in the morning (4-5 am) I remove 1/2 cup of the leaven from the jar, feeding in a new, separate jar, as an "offshoot". This way the additional feeding doesn't throw off the balance (increase appetite) of the main leaven.

Here is another method I've been using recently-- levain.

DAILY REFRESH (I feed around 4 pm so it is ripe around 7 for dough making):

Use 1/2 cup leaven, 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour.*

I like the consistency about like thick muffin batter. Too runny, and the flour ferments too fast. Too thick, and it does not mix in as easily.

If you would like to keep your leaven in the refrigerator, keep in mind that it needs a few days of feeding to come back to peak performance, before baking bread. This "weaker" leaven can be used for things like muffins, pancakes, crepes, gravy, pie crust, etc--anything that does not need a strong gluten.

I like using a quart mason jar, so I can easily see the measurement lines. 

*If you want to keep it on the counter, but not bake daily, you will accumulate a lot of excess "discard", which I call "spent" or "rendered" leaven. If that is the case, you may want to feed at the same proportion but smaller amounts: 1/4, 1/4 & 1/2, respectively. If you have a recipe that calls for 2+ cups of leaven, you would need to increase the amount you create with your feeding, 1 cup leaven, 1 cup water, 2 cups flour (you would need a very large jar to allow for rising!)

However, "spent leaven" is extremely useful, as a completely digestible grain product. I love making crepes, gravy, pancakes and many other things!


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