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Nov 13, 2012 05:23 AM


I recently attended a sourdough breadmaking class.
Not sure if i was having my leg pulled but was informed :
Starter dough AKA 'Levain' AKA 'Mother' which is also known as 'Bitch'? is this true?
You use the starter dough to make Stiff Levian
Stiff Levian is also known 'Steve' is this true?
You use Stiff Levian to make the sourdough bread

Im starting to feel a bit stupid and friends are laughing saying im gullible

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  1. I have to say I've never heard of either called "bitch" or "steve" - that said I also don't work in commercial bakeries. Commercial kitchens have a history of being slightly crass, so while it wouldn't surprise me, I just have never heard it before.

    1. I don't know about the names (and I wouldn't worry about them). Once you have a starter, you feed and refresh it regularly and when you want to make bread, you turn it either into a Poolish (fairly liquid) or a Biga (fairly stiff). Don't forget to keep some for next time and don't even worry about these names, they're all variations of the same thing.

      I kept all of my starters, mothers, and bigas very stiff, which makes for a mild-tasting bread.

      1. One of Anthony Bourdain's books refers to a baker he employed who called his starter "The Bitch". But I haven't ever heard it used as a general term.

        I have been told, however, that I should name my starter. Maybe that's why I struggle with it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: tacosandbeer

          Always, always, ALWAYS name your starter. If you don't you're doomed to failure.

          Meredith has been my faithful and loving started for over 3 years now. :)

          That's where the names come from.

          1. re: Zalbar

            I know I need to, but it hasn't spoken to me yet! I was hoping for a more organic evolution towards a name, instead of forcing something on him. (I do think it's a 'he'.)
            Of course, I also have human baby names to think of, so maybe in the next few months, inspiration will strike. Otherwise I'll have a houseful of nameless, hungry babies!

            1. re: tacosandbeer

              You can always call him Bob. Bob is a great generic.

              1. re: Zalbar

                But then what happens when he develops his own personality, and Bob doesn't fit? Do I scar him emotionally by changing it? I have visions of retaliation by way of refusing to rise or going all funky in the fridge between feedings. He's already a bit particular.

                1. re: Zalbar

                  If you remember the Monty Python skit.. Can we call you Bruce... that would work ...

          2. I haven't heard of specific types of starters having names of Bitch or Steve, but I know plenty of people who name their starters.

            My first was Nellie, as in Olsen from Little House on the Prairie. That was a snotty little starter that just didn't work out great at all. I killed her.

            My favourite was Houdini, so named because he bubbled so quickly after refreshing and with so much vigour that he regularly escaped the container I had him him.