Syllabus: Bread Program - FPB130 - Levains and Starters: Techniques and Applications | The French Pastry School

Syllabus: Bread Program - FPB130 - Levains and Starters: Techniques and Applications

FPB130 - Levains and Starters: Techniques and Applications

Course Description:

This teaches students how to start and use their own natural pre-ferments (levain). They explore the differences between a stiff and a liquid levain.  The time-saving and organizational benefits of using different levain and starter techniques are taught (e.g., slow proofing, bulk fermentation, controlled fermentation). Students learn multiple methods for organizing work flow and schedules to optimize production time. They focus on mastering advanced shaping techniques as they create the renowned Pains Français au Levain, sourdough breads, ciabatta, and rustic bread.


Students the Course is Expected to Serve:

This course is a necessary component to completing the 10-week L’Art de la Boulangerie – The Artisanal Bread Baking Program.


Pre-requisites and Co-requisites:

Principals of Boulangerie; Fundamentals of French Breads; Pre-fermets: Poolish and Sponges; Levains and Starters: Techniques and Applications; Specialty Whole Grains and Organic Breads; Specialty Breads from France and around the World; Breakfast Pastries and Viennoiseries; Advanced Breakfast Pastries and Viennoiseries; Sweet and Savory Pies and Tarts; Capstone Course: Applications and Bread Showpieces


Training Objectives:

  • The student will learn how to make and use natural pre-ferments (levain).
  • The student will learn the differences between a stiff and a liquid levain, and how each type affects the final characteristics of a bread product, including taste, texture, and appearance of crumb and crust.
  • The student will learn time-saving and organizational benefits of using different levain and starter techniques (e.g., slow proofing, bulk fermentation, controlled fermentation).
  • The student will learn how to organize and optimize work flow and schedule while working with different types of breads and pre-ferments.
  • The student will learn advanced shaping techniques to create Pains Français au Levain, sourdough breads, ciabatta, and rustic breads.


Student Learning Outcomes:

  • The student will be able to make and use natural pre-ferments (levain) to create breads that meet saleable production standards.
  • The student will be able to explain the differences between a stiff and a liquid levain, and how each type affects the final characteristics of the product, including taste, texture, and appearance of crumb and crust.
  • The student will demonstrate proficiency in applying time-saving and organizational benefits of using different levain and starter techniques (e.g., slow proofing, bulk fermentation, controlled fermentation).
  • The student will demonstrate proficiency in organizing and optimizing work space, work flow, and schedule while creating different types of pre-ferments and breads.
  • The student will evidence advanced shaping techniques while creating Pains Français au Levain, sourdough breads, ciabatta, and rustic breads that meet saleable production standards.


Course Outline:

  • Making natural pre-ferments (levain). (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Characteristics and uses of stiff and liquid levains. (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Time-saving and organizational benefits of slow proofing methods, bulk fermentation, and controlled fermentation.(3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Choosing and using multiple methods to optimize work time, and applying these methods toward working with different types of breads and pre-ferments. (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)
  • Using advanced shaping techniques to createPains Françaisau Levain, sourdough breads, ciabatta, and rustic breads. (3 hours lecture; 5 hours lab)


Methods of Instruction*:

  • Lectures
  • Whole-group discussions facilitated by the chef instructor
  • Technique and recipe demonstrations by the chef instructor
  • Chef instructor-supervised production of recipes by students


Methods of Evaluation*:

  • Appropriate and accurate responses to instructor’s questions during demonstrations and class discussions
  • Chef instructor observations during recipe production


*Further explanation of the Methods of Instruction and Evaluation across the program may be found at the end of this catalog.