• Good Food Guy

Sourdough Levain/Starter

Sourdough Starter is cultivation of wild yeast for bakes. This is the most traditional way to create own starter and has been in the baking scene as early as 5000BC.

For great bakes and fermentation, levain is a must to get active yeast culture. Once your levain is set, you can maintain it as long as you take care of it. Levain is starter or sourdough starter.

For me, I got curious about sourdough bake at home since last year and the curiousity just kept building up to the point of trying my hand at it! There are some great resources online with detailed step by step instructions. But since there is huge amount of free flowing information, it is but obvious to get confused and just not look at this beautiful process of creating your own levain. It happened to me but then i would say, it only made me cross the bridge as i reached there :)


This piece of information I am sharing about creating your own levain is from a non baker point of view. At the end I got the desired result and I hope this helps you all to also try your hands at cultivating your own starter. All you need is flour, water, 5mins a day and LOTS of patience. And the effort pays off!


Of all the countless resources I referred to online, Patrick Ryan (www.ilovecooking.ie) and Chef Billy Parisi (www.billyparisi.com) were phenomenal with their detailed instructions on getting past the 7 days of sourdough making journey. Of course one need to understand the technique and use own logic to get things rolling. Just as I did. I did have my share of failure on my first attempt but that didn’t discourage me at all. It instead made to understand my environment and what I need to turn simple flour and water into a magical living healthy bacteria called as “sourdough Starter”


Before you start, invest into a good quality jar that has a breathable lid. The levain grows as it matures, so you need to have a good decent 1lt to 1.2lt volume jar. I failed in my first attempt as I got a wrong jar that didn’t work well.


For my starter, I have used wholemeal flour and bread flour on first 2 days and then it has been only wholemeal. You can use the same method and quantity if using all purpose flour. I found morning hours as the best to start with the starter. Just before I turn on my coffee machine, I used to discard and feed the starter, and carry on with my agenda for the day and meet my starter after 24hrs.


So let me take you through my 7 days of fantastic journey


(I had to change jars during the process to accommodate the starter rise)


Day 1 - 6am

25gm unbleached white flour and 25gm wholemeal flour

50g room temperature water


  1. In a tall glass jar add room temperature water and flour. Mix well. No dry bits.

  2. Do not airlock the jar at anytime. Keep it breathable. Leave it inside oven or any warm place for 24hrs.

Day 2 - 6am

25gm unbleached white flour and 25gm wholemeal flour

50g water

It is unlikely there will be any activity today.


  1. To the sourdough starter add room temperature water. Mix. Add flour mix. Clean up the sides. Level the flour. Mark the level to gauge the rise. Leave in oven for 24hrs

Day 3 - 6am (just one type of flour)

100gm wholemeal flour

100gm water


  1. There will a rise today when you see it in the morning

  2. Discard 100gm of the starter.

  3. To the remaining starter, add water and mix. Add flour and mix. Repeat the cleaning of bottle, leveling the layer, marking level and letting it rise in oven for 24hrs

Day 4 - 6am

100gm wholemeal flour

100gm water

  1. Discard 150gm of the starter.

  2. To the remaining starter, add the water & mix. Add flour & mix

  3. Cover and leave overnight in the oven. The starter should start to smell pleasantly sour with small bubbles appearing on the surface.

Day 5 - 6am

150gm wholemeal flour

150gm room temperature water

Throw away 200gm of the starter.


  1. To the remaining starter, add flour and mix in with the 150gm water.

  2. Cover and leave overnight. The starter should appear active and full of bubbles.


Day 6 - 6am (note the fermenting time and flour)

200gm wholemeal flour

200gm room temperature water

The starter should be quite active now and be full of little bubbles and smell slightly fruity and pleasant aroma


  1. Discard 250gm of sourdough starter.

  2. To the remaining starter, add the 200gm flour to the starter and mix in the 200gm water.

  3. Cover and leave it for 12hrs


Today around 9pm, discard 200gm of the ripe starter

Stir in 200gm water. Mix. Add 200gm whole meal flour. Mix. And let it rise in the oven


Day 7 - 6am

The starter should now be very active and full of bubbles and is now ready to use to bake

Scoop a small piece from the top and gently drop it in a glass of water. The dough will float and indicates it is perfect and ready to bake


#sourdough #levain #sourdoughstarter #homebaking #breadstarter #sourdoughbaking #bakercharmz #homebaking

500 views2 comments

©2020 goodfoodguy.com