My Levain, the Other Baby in the House

 

They roll their eyes but wolf down the steaming loaves hot from the oven........

 

 

What is Levain?

In 2011, I harvested my own yeast, turned it into a starter, and now I use it every time I bake bread. The starter is called "levain," a gluey, pungent conconction that demands feeding with doses of flour and water a couple times a week.  Sometimes I have to take it on vacation with us or get a babysitter to watch over it. "Imagine we're on the Champs-Elyesees in a mobile bakery," I tell my complaining family when the yeasty smell gets nauseating. 

I even smuggled my levain into Costa Rica when I went there with my family for six months.  I wanted to try try baking on the equator. The first time I fired up the oven in our Costa Rican kitchen, a power line came down nearby and shorted out all electricity. No bread for us that day.