Manual grinder used by Gérard to mill flour for his levain (Can be found online at Lehman's Hardware - ref. 30347120, about $50)For the levain formula, please click here. To start making a levain à la Gérard, assemble all the ingredients (all-purpose flour, grain blend, salt, malt) and utensils (plastic scraper, parchment paper for weighed ingredients, thermometer, mill, bowl, plastic dough bucket, paper tape, pen), then weigh and aerate the all-purpose flour (unbleached) so that it is later more readily suffused with water:
Weigh the salt and the malt and set them on a piece of parchment paper near the bowl where the flours will be mixed with the water. Mill the grain blend (for proportions, again please refer to the formula). Gérard insists on the importance of waiting until the last possible minute to mill the grains, in order to preserve the maximum number of wild yeast cells present in the grain. These cells are very volatile and disappear fast.
Gérard explains that a tension must be created on the skin of the starter. Gérard says that the starter is ready when it begins to shine and becomes tacky.
When the starter is bouncy and the imprint of a finger remains visible, roll it into a ball, dust it with flour, flatten it into a disk which will fit at the bottom of the chosen container. For these proportions of flour and water, the disk should have a diameter of at least 7", so the container needs to be selected accordingly. Cover with another layer of the same mixture (the disc of starter must be entirely buried), close the lid tightly, stick a paper tape on it and jot down the date, the time and the temperature of the starter.
Let ferment for about 22 hours at 79ºF/26ºC. Related posts: