The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using starter out of the fridge

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whoops's picture
whoops

Using starter out of the fridge

HI all,

I feel pretty confident that the question I am going to ask has been asked, and answered, maybe even many times, and I have probably read the answer somewhere on this forum but for some reason my brain is not comprehending, so I am going to ask you all to bear with me, and pretty pretty please answer me again. So, I have a good starter. It smells nice and tangy, and even now, after taking it from the fridge where it has been for the last week to 10 days, left to its own little devices, it has nice bubbles and that lovely sourdough tangy smell. Tomorrow I want to try again to work with my recipe, but I am trying to figure out the proper (perhaps best is the better word) to get the starter ready. What I THINK I should do is: take one TBSP starter, mix with 1 cup water and some weight of flour...and whisk it all together, let it get all good air and then let it rise/double, get active. Now, the recipe calls for 1 cup of starter. As I think about this again, I think, no, that will give me MORE starter than I need. Part of what is throwing me is that the recipe is in volume (which I now know is not the best way to measure for bread, but there you go, it is what it is)but I have sort of set my mind to weight...so trying to figure out how to get 1 cup of starter from 1 TBSP of starter is just driving me crazy. It seems to me that the 1 cup of water will be absorbed by the 1 cup of flour and still be one cup..yet. there is a little teensy part of my brain  that says I am crazy for thinking this, yet can't find a reason why I am wrong. Honestly, I do not really need to know WHY I am wrong, just IF I am wrong. Our Central Air is still out, and it is only supposed to be in the low 80s this weekend, so I want to bake some bread while there is a chance that I will not cause the members of my family to have a heat stroke by remaining in the house while I bake bread!

Also, for some reason, when I was getting my starter going, I was convinced I read that I should use 1:1:1 ratios by weight of starter, water and flour at each feeding, and discarding half of the starter before mixing. This, I believed would give me a starter that was 100% hydration.  Did my mind make up these figures? Did I actually read something like this? ( I spent so many days reading through all the information, and also looking at some other sites, I forget where I saw what information!) Thank you in advance for all of you lovely people who know this stuff like- well, like I know how to talk to a demented old lady who thinks she has rubber bands tying up her intestines!

Sandy

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Starter and starter maintenance is as individual as people are. Listen to all the advice,follow some and discard other.

I have adapted my recipes to use a preferment similar to what you are suggesting.

THursday night-take starter out of refrig and discard/feed as appropriate (discard can be used,if desired, for pancakes,biscuits,etc). I keep a pint jar of starter that is only 1/4 filled so a small amount of discard and flour needed to feed is small.It doesn't waste the flour and break the food budget.

Friday AM-feed

Friday PM-take 2 tbsp now active starter,1 cup water,1 cup flour in a covered plastic container and let sit on counter overnight. Put the rest of the starter back in the refrig ready for next use or feed again for use the next day.

Sat AM- Mix bread dough using all pre-ferment (I have adapted my recipes).

I have also used milk in my preferment and also adjusted liquid amounts if there is less liquid in a recipe. I guess the concept is to use an activated starter to build an active preferment. It develops plenty of lift power and wonderful flavor in the final loaf. It also gets the main starter fed and ready for the next use.

As for the weigh or volume recipes-I did adapt my recipes to be both. It has proven useful when I want to scale up or down-maybe I want to do holiday baking or maybe just make 6 rolls instead of 12.That is when its really useful. Otherwise I do volume and adjust the dough as needed if I scoop heavy one time.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

...

how to get 1 cup of starter from 1 TBSP of starter is just driving me crazy. It seems to me that the 1 cup of water will be absorbed by the 1 cup of flour and still be one cup..yet. there is a little teensy part of my brain  that says I am crazy for thinking this, yet can't find a reason why I am wrong.

Think of it this way: If you add 1 cup of water to 1 cup of flour to 1 TBSP of starter - the total volume, or mass of all those three things put together will be 2 cups + 1 TBSP. A cup of flour is a cupful. A cup of water is a cupful. A tablespoon is a tablespoonful. Therefore you have 1 cup + 1 cup + 1 tblsp = 2 cups + 1 tblsp. Yes, the flour will absorb the water, but nothing disappears as it absorbs - so you will still have 2 cups of gunk + 1 tblsp ... do you see?

To take your 1 Tblsp of starter and turn it into a cupful, try a dummy run. Take your measuring cup and add 1 Tablespoon of flour. Then add 1 tablespoon of water.  Mix together. Keep going like that till the cup is full. That will give you an idea of how many tablespoons of flour you need and how many tablespoons of water to make a cupful.  Yes, you will still have a Tablespoon of starter to go into the mix of fresh flour and water but the whole idea is to make a little more than a cupful so you have some left over to keep back for the next batch of bread. 

Once you have calculated by physically measuring how many tablespoons of flour and water you need to fill a cup, then add 1 x extra tblspoon of flour and 1 x extra tablespoon of water to the sum. That will ensure you have enough gunk left over to keep as your starter for the future.

Have to say, however, life really is just so much easier if you can just convert recipes to weight measurements.

Anyhoo, hope this helps more than it confuses.

All at Sea

 

 

whoops's picture
whoops

That makes sooo much  sense. I am not sure why I couldn't figure that out last night, once you said it, I was like."DUH!" *sigh*

I do so want to convert to weight measurements, I just have not had the time to take my recipe and weigh things out, and then write it down so I remember. I am still struggling to get the breads not to be bricks at this point. Although, the last time, they turned out less brick like and more bread like. YAY.

So I have WAYYYYY too much starter (just doing the second feed so I can mix and let rest during the day, then fnal proof in fridge overnight) so I think I will make a double batch. I hate throwing out my starter, so I just took 40 gms out of the jar, added 80 gm flour and 80 gram water (I read somewhere about doing a 1:2:2 ratio when taking out of the fridge) which somehow left me with 185 grams this morning after it had doubled and then rested while I slept. So, I added 185 of flour and 185 of water and am waiting til it doubles then will start the bread.

I then weighed what was left in the jar and did a 1:1:1 feeding on that, whisked it up to give it good air, let it rest for about an hour and popped it back in the fridge.

We shall see how it goes. If I do not have good luck this time, I think I will keep the starter (I know it is good) and start over with trying a new recipe. The one I am using came from Gold Rush and I have to say I am not impressed.

Sandy

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

100% hydration is a 1:1 ratio by weight of flour:water.  People often feed their starters at the ratio of 1:1:1 by weight of starter:flour:water.  Eventually that will produce a 100% hydration starter, no matter what hydration level was of the original starter.

Flour weighs approximately half as much per volume as water, so that instructions for a 100% hydration starter using volumes often specify a 2:1 ratio by volume of flour:water.  Using a 1:1 volume ratio of flour:water would make a more batter-like starter.

One solution to your current problem would be to weigh one cup of your starter.  Then you can feed your starter by weight to keep it at 100% hydration, even though the recipe is expressed in volumes and you use a volume measure of starter in that recipe.

 

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... from MangoChutney - and very practical. And can't help but agree with you on that recipe - not the greatest for sure. There are so many recipes here that forum members have spelled out clearly and with no room for confusion, I'm sure you'll do better choosing one of those.

If you've got all this starter, why not have some experimental fun with it? One of the great things about playing around with starters is you get to understand just how much temperature, hydration, and type of flour affect the speed of ferment. If you did as I suggested, mixing up a cup of starter by alternate tablespoons of flour and water, you will indeed end up with something along the lines of a batter. (I was going to add about trying that same exercise with 2 x tblsp flour to 1 tblsp water, but thought one step at a time might be best).

But if you do another dummy run, by mixing up 2 tablespoons of flour to every 1 of water till you have a cupful, you will have a far stiffer mix. Then just add 1 tablespoon of your original starter to both the runny mix and the stiff one and you'll be able to see for yourself, how hydration levels affect the speed of fermentation. Set them both out at room temperature, side by side, and let 'em go, sister! 

Throwing out starter seems a terrible waste, doesn't it? But with experimentation you'll soon learn to just mix far less of it and minimise the discard.

Given how rapid and healthy a new starter can be made using live yoghurt (in place of water) and stoneground rye, I've not bothered keeping any starter at all of late. Just mix up a new batch 3 days before I want to bake, feed it after 24 hours, then after every 12 for the following two days and it does the job with gusto. But you'll probably feel that's another experiment for another day I suspect!

All at Sea

 

 

 

 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Another use of excess starter is making small batches of baked goods leavened with baking soda.  The sourdough supplies the acid.  I've made batches of four 3"-4" chocolate chip cookies, for instance.  I used my microwave/convection oven for that purpose, so I am not heating up a full-sized oven for just four cookies.  You can use it to make chocolate cake or banana bread, also, with additional flour and water added.  I have heard that it makes great pancakes and waffles also, but we don't eat those often in my house.  It's just acidified flour paste, for all of these purposes, but that's better than being garbage.

Oh, and using it as yeast with some flour, you can make a small thick-crust pizza.  That's more time consuming, though.

DeWitt's picture
DeWitt

One tablespoon is 1/2 ounce volume.  So there are 16 tablespoons/8 oz cup.  Three teaspoon make 1 tablespoon.  This is kind of fundamental kitchen stuff.  Of course those are level measures.  With a heaping spoonful, all bets are off.  Not to mention that the density of flour can vary wildly depending on whether it's freshly sifted or packed.  Which is why an investment in a digital kitchen scale for measuring mass is a good idea.