The Healthy Bread – How To Bake Fermented Levain Bread

Jan, 02, 2017

By Fredrica Syren:

A couple of years ago my new years resolution was to start baking more bread and one of my favorite bread to eat is levain sourdough bread. Sourdough is hyped in Sweden where I’m from, and you find many versions of it everywhere – in restaurants, stores and bakeries. But it’s not like the San Francisco sourdough. It has a perfect crust but is soft inside with a great balance of sour, sweet and a little salt. Since moving here, I have promised myself I would learn to bake sourdough bread, also known as “levain.” Levain is a leavening agent used instead of commercial yeast. Levain bread is nutritionally better for you because the lactobacilli and ascorbic acid present help neutralize phytic acid, a substance occurring in bread that inhibits the body’s mineral absorption. Bread baked with a sourdough starter also stays fresh longer.

Last weekend I decided to a try it. I consider myself an avid baker and pretty good one, too. I use fermentation in my breads all the time, so I really thought this was going to be a walk in the park. Think again!!! It was very time consuming since the fermentation process takes days – read 3 – and you have to care for the levain morning and evening. It has to rise for 3 days in a warm place.

I told James on day 3 that it had better be the most amazing bread ever! And guess what? It was. OMG, it was so good. The whole family agreed it was the best. After we ate some of the bread with soup that night, my husband asked, ”So, was it hard to make? I mean really, really hard?” I knew where he was going with this and, yes, I will bake it again.

The base for fermented bread is wild yeast, also called “starter,” and I made one from this recipe. You mix water and flour together and let it sit out for a few days to let the fermentation process begin, while the exposure to air starts the bacteria and fungus growth. It takes 3-4 days for the starter yeast to be fermented, but then you have yeast for a couple of baking sessions. I used white spelt flour instead of white flour for my starter.

The recipe I followed for the levain bread was this one. I made all my starters and baked all the levain breads with white and whole wheat spelt flour.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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