Licoli, the liquid sourdough, and a little recap


Last episode of the series “leavening methods for baking”. We just missed one character that I am about to discuss in this post: the licoli.

After having heard about that here and there, I did a little research and find out that licoli is, simply, a liquid version of sourdough. Briefly, the equation can be picture as: licoli:sourdoug as poolish:biga .

Licoli is prepared as the regular sourdough: water and flour, with the difference that the hydration ratio is much higher. The batter is then exposed to air and let be colonized by bacteria (lactic and acetic) and wild yeasts populating the surroundings.

What is the advantage of licoli? Apparently (here I refer to those who work with it), it is easier to handle and maintain than the classic sourdough. Actually, by reading articles about sourdough and its maintenance, there is enough to scare even the bravest baker :P

Sourdough must be regularly fed with water and flour. Yeasts, as well as bacteria, replicate quickly and, very shortly, they run out of nutrients that become insufficient to support the entire population. But not just that. Sourdough must be washed from time to time to eliminate compounds that might give an unpleasant taste to the final product. “From time to time” is hard to quantify. Someone claims that sourdough must be washed monthly, other bi-monthly or even bi-weekly. Of course, extended washes might weaken the sourdough (but how often?), so careful with that...I told you that sourdough is not a standardized product! :P

In light of what said above, you clearly understand that the maintenance of sourdough is still a sort of “art” and that handling it requires a lot of practice. Licoli doesn’t require all those attentions. Of course, it must be fed regularly, but no washes, what a joy :)

So, what I am going to do with sourdough? Shall I make it or not? I am still debating about that...I am very curious to test it, but as I will have to make it from scratch, I hesitate. I will probably try licoli that seems easier to handle. Anyway, also biga and poolish allow obtaining decent baking products.

What do you think? Any suggestions? What I am going to do, shall I try natural yeast? :P

Meanwhile, I leave you with a recap table of the most common leavening methods:



(d)=direct method (i)=indirect method