The Fresh Loaf

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QUESTION: How to use SD starter in commercial yeast recipes?

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tigressbakes's picture
tigressbakes

QUESTION: How to use SD starter in commercial yeast recipes?

Hi,

OK this is probably a total newbie question but here goes...

It seems like many of you bake mostly or exclusively with sourdough. I am wondering, is there some kind of basic 'general rule' about using wild yeast instead of commercial yeast in non SD recipes? Or if not, I would love to get some experienced opinions on the best way to do this.

I do know that the fermentaton times in commerical yeast are pretty standard - and I am learning, at least with what little experience I've had with my sourdough starter so far that the fermenation times are a lot longer.

I was thinking that a good start would be to replace the 'sponge' or 'poolish' that is called for in a lot of commerical year recipes with the same amount of starter - (and of course omit any yeast that is called for anywhere else in the recipe).

Will this work?

 

I would love comments, suggestions, thoughts, and any input anyone has on this subject.

 

thanks!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Tigressbakes,

You can substitute 100% hydration starter for a poolish or build a biga-like starter to replace a biga by feeding a starter with more flour and less water to get a firm dough consistency, then let rise by double. Sometimes the results will be fairly different in flavor and in texture. You can then play with the percentage of starter in the recipe. Also, you can add a small amount of commercial yeast, like 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp to a typical 2 pound dough, if you want. That is a way to introduce SD flavor in the poolish or biga stage, but then rely on the commercial yeast to boost and speed up the dough fermentation.

My experience is that it takes longer, but not way, way longer to do the sourdough versions. I would say the ciabatta I did took about 1 to 1.5 hours extra in the bulk fermentation and again in the final proof.

My recent sourdough ciabatta blog entry is basically the BBA poolish ciabatta, but I use a lower percentage of "poolish" (i.e. starter) than the recipe calls for. The sourdough focaccia is similarly a BBA poolish focaccia with a lower percentage of poolish/starter.

It helps to match the type of flour when you build up the starter that will substitute for the poolish or biga in a yeast recipe.

It's definitely worth trying. Most recipes will at least work, just with somewhat different flavors and textures, but often will be very good in flavor at least, if not perfect in texture or time to rise and such.

Bill

tigressbakes's picture
tigressbakes

 Sourdough-guy your post is pretty powerful one to a newbie baker who is also a perfectionist:

"Mix your ingredients, add a leaven, wait til double, shape, wait til double and bake."

 At the end of the day, that is all it really is isn't it? 

After about 5 bricks/failures coming out of my oven the first few times I tried I am a bit wary of being so free-sylin' but I like what you are saying because an attitude like that will make me feel like a 'real' baker...now if I could just get a few good 'recipes' under my belt... ;-)

 

bwraith, your post is really helpful. It seems like it is pretty easy, and actually as I had suspected. That's a good point you made about using the same flour to build as the recipe calls for.  Question: Did you choose to put a lower percentage of "poolish" (starter) in both your ciabatta and focaccia due to flavor - it would have been too sour if you didn't? Do you find that is a general rule for you when you convert?

I know all sourdough starters are different as are all tastebuds, but all info is helpful to me at this point. If your are doing a lesser % of starter vs. poolish for another reason - other than flavor - that would be good to know also. How much less did you you find yourself doing for both of your breads?

 I am going to go check out your blog again! -

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Tigressbakes,

I haven't done that many conversions, so I'm not confident enough to state rules of thumb. I reduced the percentage in the sourdough ciabatta and focaccia recipes because the percentage of preferment was so high to begin with and I was noticing that if I went with the recipe percentages, the dough wouldn't rise well with the SD starter. I think you could think of it kind of like underfeeding the starter, when you only double the flour and add much less than double the water. I think the acid levels will start out very high, as well. I was able to make those SD recipes using the same percentages as the BBA if I added a spike of yeast - maybe 1 tsp of instant yeast in those recipes. Reinhart says he likes to use very high percentages relative to "common practice". The result was good flavor, but the crumb texture wasn't that good. You can see some photos of that approach in the "Ciabatta Challenge" thread. The recipe in the blog worked just fine for me, giving a very acceptable crust and crumb and a reasonable rise. However, I just notice that zolablue didn't feel she got the rise and oven spring she wanted out of it, so I'm not sure how to make the recipe completely reliable.

I'm not at all sure of this, but it might make sense to use a little less SD starter in most recipes, as the flavor of a poolish or biga refrigerated overnight would probably be more mild than a SD starter based preferment that is allowed to double and refrigerated overnight.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Converting a recipe to sourdough is very easy if you're weighing ingredients, somewhat touch and go if you're using volumetric measurements, but still possible.

Here's what I do:

First, I decide how much of the flour I want to be in the sourdough starter. If I'm doing a very long fermentation, say, 12+ hours, like when I converted the NYT / Sullivan St. No-Knead recipe, I'll use 5-10% of the flour in the sourdough. If I want a faster fermentation (4 hour bulk rise at room temp with a 2-2.5 hour final proof), I'll use 30%.

In rye recipes, I tend to go as high as 40%, which really speeds things up.

Anyway, once I know how much flour there will be the recipe, I decide how wet I want my starter to be. I keep my starter at 60% hydration, which means for every 10 grams of flour, I add 6 grams of water. I'd like to do 50%, because the math is easier, but I keep a whole wheat starter, and I just can't seem to incorporate all the flour with that amount of water. I like the flavor a stiff starter produces, I think it's less messy to deal with, and it keeps longer in the fridge the dryer it is. That said, I'll often convert my starter to 100% (which is equal weights of flour to water) when I'm converting a recipe, because the math is easier.

So, let's take the following recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread (ripped directly from breadnerd, with a bit of rounding for the gram weights)):

WHEAT BREAD

  • Water: 310 Grams
  • Milk: 250 grams
  • Eggs: 1 large egg or 60 grams
  • Brown Sugar: 80 grams
  • Honey 30 grams
  • Oil (or melted butter): 60 grams
  • Salt: 20 grams
  • Yeast: 20 grams
  • Wheat Flour: 595 grams
  • Bread Flour: 395 grams


Here's the steps you want to take: 1) Figure out the total flour in the recipe. It's a straight dough (i.e. no pre-ferment), so it's easy: 990 grams.
2) Figure out the total amount of water in the recipe. Again, it's a cinch because it's a straight dough. 310 grams. If there were a pre-ferment, you'd have to figure out how much water and flour are in it, since you'll replace any pre-ferment with sourdough starter. And if there's another liquid (like milk) you may need to include it as well, if there's not enough water to account for all the liquid you need to put into your starter.
3) Figure out how much flour should go into the starter.We decided on 30%, which comes to 297 grams. Let's round up to 300 grams to make it easy.
4) Figure out how much water should be in the starter. At 100% hydration for the starter, it's simple. 300 grams of water.
5) Add the water and flour in the starter together to figure out how much flour you need. It comes to 600 grams of starter.
6) Subtract the flour in the starter from the recipe. Here, we've got two kinds of flours. Since I use a whole-wheat starter, I'll subtract 300 grams from the 595 grams of whole wheat flour. That means we're left with 295 grams of whole wheat flour.
7) Subtract the water in the starter from the recipe. Well, that leaves us with just 10 grams of water. If I were actually baking this bread, I'd probably just add it to the milk and do 260 grams instead of 250, but let's keep it at 10 grams of water.
8) Rewrite your recipe. Omit the yeast and any pre-ferment, incorporate the starter and new flour / water amounts and, VOILA!

SOURDOUGH WHEAT BREAD

  • Water: 10 Grams
  • Milk: 250 grams
  • Eggs: 1 large or 60 grams
  • Brown Sugar: 80 grams
  • Honey 30 grams
  • Oil (or melted butter): 60 grams
  • Salt: 19 grams
  • Starter (at 100% hydration): 600 grams
  • Wheat Flour: 295 grams
  • Bread Flour: 395 grams


The bulk rise will take 3-4 hours at room temperature, while the final proof will take 1.5-2.5 hours. Follow all the other recipe instructions as written. Done!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

JMonkey,

Thanks for the conversion example. I think there is an egg or a half an egg in that recipe by breadnerd, mentioned later in his thread about that bread. I am surprised the dough isn't too dry, looking at the hydration percentages breadnerd posted, but I guess the honey, oil, and egg must be what makes it wet enough.

Bill

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Thanks Bill. Yep, it needs 1 large egg up above. When I make raisin bread, I find an egg adds quite a bit to the hydration, so I imagine that's what rounds it out.

I've also corrected the recipe, per Breadnerd's post, and sent the link directly to his Google spreadsheet.

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

I'm a little confused. I have no problem dealing with 310 grams of water.  Milk, however, is mostly water.  Why would you not include the 250 grams of milk in the calculations? 

 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Well, I'm only a month late replying (I just saw it today, I swear), but, yes, you're right about including milk and other liquids. But in a conversion, you only need to include them if there's not enough water in the originaly recipe to fully account for all the water you need in your starter.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I was looking at the SFBI (san fran baking inst.) web site this morning and noticed a "Tips" page. Here they address in a clear manner some of the issues we seem to be struggling with. I found a few very interesting nuggets as I read down the list. It would be worth while to take a few minutes and read them all for better understanding.

http://www.sfbi.com/bakers_tips.html

Eric