Lively leaven

Right, this leaven… or rather these leavens as I’ve had several since I started making sourdough bread. Maybe that’s why I’ve never given any of them a name, unlike some bloggers.

The basic idea is simple : you mix flour and water (plus, depending on the recipe, a few raisins or some pineapple juice), and five or six days later the leaven is full of bubbles and raring to go.

Seth teased me : "But it’s a living thing! How can it be vegan?"

He didn’t let that spoil his enjoyment of the bread…

In theory at least, if you don’t make bread every day you can keep the leaven in the fridge for a few days, even several weeks. Two days before you want to use it, you take it out and start feeding it again with flour and water.

But that was the problem: my leavens had slumped into a hypothermic torpor and had no wish to be brought back to life. I was left with a grey sticky mass that smelled strongly of nail varnish remover: definitely an ex-leaven. Intimidated, I gave it less and less food so as not to overload its delicate digestion.

Then one day I decided to try something different. I kept just two tablespoons of the gloop and added 100 g (4 oz) of flour and 100 g of water.

To my surprise, a miracle took place. A few hours later, the leaven was bubbling away merrily. I’d been treating it like an invalid with no appetite when it was actually a strapping lad desperate for some hearty nosh.


That same leaven has stayed healthy for several months. It may even deserve a name: Lazarus perhaps?

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