Traditional French type sourdough bread is made with a preferment (levain) step, using a combination of yeast and bacteria. The traditional approach begins with a spontaneous starter or “chef”. The chef is prepared by mixing flour and sometimes other ingredients with water and allowing the diluted mixture to spontaneously ferment. After some time, usually more than 24 hours, the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria from the ingredients or ambient air multiply and begin producing organic acid and carbon dioxide gas (as well as other characteristic aromas). Once gas production has stopped, flour is added to form a thick dough, and fermentation continues. After the dough has increased to two to four times its original volume, the chef is ready to use. This process generally requires approximately three to four days of fermentation. The levain or sourdough is then prepared from the chef by adding more flour and water to form a larger dough. Consequently, the levain is maintained or “refreshed” by blending back a portion with flour and water to keep it alive and active. Fermentation time varies with temperature, from about 6 hours at 30°C (86°F) to 12 hours at 20°C (68°F). A liquid levain is sometimes also used, containing about equal amounts of flour and water.
Florapan® starter cultures can be used to eliminate the tedious and lengthy chef step and go directly to the final levain, avoiding the complex back-slopping process. With Florapan® starter cultures, a sourdough or levain can be produced in a single fermentation step.
Florapan® starter cultures contain specially selected strains of bacteria or yeast, or a combination, so that fermentation flavor and timing are more predictable during sourdough fermentation. Results are then constant and stable among different productions. Florapan® Starter cultures are available in dry form and have a long shelf life (18 months at 4°C).
Lallemand also offers a range of Florapan® aromatic yeasts selected from wine or beer environment in order to propose more aromatic preferments to differentiate your final product. The selected yeasts are able to reveal your flour aromas and the result is a bread rich in differentiated aromas that keeps the freshness and preservation.
The Lallemand Baking range of products for bakery cultures includes: