The Fresh Loaf

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First attempt at sourdough starter

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Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

First attempt at sourdough starter

This is my very first attempt at a starter.  I used the KA Flour Baker's companion book for my formula.  I followed it to the letter using a rye flour/water/molasses beginning.   4 oz water, 3 1/2 oz rye flour and 1/8 tsp molasses.  On Day 2 I discarded half and added 4 oz water and 3 1/2oz rye flour.  Day 3,4,5,6 I discarded half, added 4 oz water and 4 1/4 oz (1 cup) all purpose flour. I did this twice each day.

On Day 7, I took 1/2 cup (4 oz) starter, 8 oz water and 8 oz all purpose flour and mixed.

All the water I used was at 80 degrees.  Room temp was 60 degrees at night, 65-70 during day.  (Cold here in MN!) 

Per the recipe, it should have doubled in size after that last feeding, and it did not.  It smells ok, no funny colors, it bubbles and seems ok, but is lacking in volume.  Is it ok?  Do I feed it more often? Less often?  Use less starter? Stir more often?

The above starter was after another feeding of 1:2:2 and 20 hours post feeding.  Not even close to double.

Help!

Lisa

placebo's picture
placebo

Why is it so brown if you've been feeding it with AP flour?

You might want to slow down on the feedings, and go back to a 2:1:1 ratio until the starter takes off. It looks like the yeast haven't awakened yet.

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

It is really a cream color.  It is not brown in real life.  I stirred it and there are a lot more bubbles now, but still not much volume.  I will skip a feeding and reassess tomorrow.

placebo's picture
placebo

I'm guessing it's on the verge of starting up. Finding a warm place for it overnight will help.

You can cut down on the amount of starter you're keeping, at least until it gets going. Keeping a lot while it's developing is just a waste of flour. I'd try maintaining perhaps two ounces. Once it starts up, it's easy enough to increase the volume to what amount you need.

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

I agree with placebo that it looks on the verge of starting up.  A 100% hydration starter could have varied consistency depending on the types of flour used.  All purpose flour, with a lower protein content, would tend to be on the thinner side.  If your starter has a pancake batter-like consistency, then it may be too thin to rise.  In that case, you will see lots of activity in the form of bubbles, but little in the way of height increase.  But stick with it - you're almost there.

-Brad

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

So double all times.   Don't feed every day, feed every other day.   Stop feeding and wait a two days but still keep stirring the mixture.  Seven days would be 14 real days.

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

Not sure how to flip photo, but thought I'd share the pic of my starter as of noon today.  All I did was leave it alone and give it a stir.  It appears to be responding.  I will try feeding out again tonight with some bread flour and see what happens.  I'd love to bake with it on Wednesday.   Thanks for the advice!

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

So, I decided to take a chance and try my starter out.  Not knowing if it was strong enough, I knew I'd be experimenting.  I used KA recipe for Pain au Levain BUT I didn't want to stay up all night to make it.  So...instead of bulk fermentation at room temp, I put it in the refrigerator overnight after doing 3 stretch and folds.  In the a.m., I took it out and immediately shaped them and proofed at room temp for 4 hours.  It didn't rise much and they are on the small size.  I baked in a Dutch oven.  The boule on the right, I scored.  First attempt at that and I was not bold enough to get it deep enough I think.  The one on the left was baked seam size up as Ken Forkish has done.  I like the appearance so far.  I can report back later with appearance of the crumb.  I have not sliced into it yet.   I suspect the starter is mature now but I think this will have a bit of a learning curve.  The dough was 450 gm of 100% hydration starter, 600 gms all purpose flour, 85 gms whole wheat flour, 400 grams water and 2 1/2tsp salt.  Dough was definitely more stiff than I was used to but I didn't know what kind of a rise to expect with a new starter.  Lady Goo-Goo (my starter) appears to be doing well and I think we made it through the hard part. Thanks for the advice!

Lisa

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

Not sure why my pics occasionally turn sideways but I don't know how to fix it.  Here is the crumb of the loaf from today.  Not too bad for a first effort.  Tasted really yummy.  Not too sour, which was fine by me. I am going to taste the other loaf tomorrow and see if I can tell any difference.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Good color too!  

Add a little more water when you think it's too dry raising the water to 420g.  That one change might be all that's needed, it will speed up the fermenting times just a little and so will your aging starter.  I would try that first without the fridge retarding so you get a good feel for the dough from mix to bake.  Oops, now that's two changes...  My bad.  One change at a time...   Drop the retard first and compare.  Then with the third batch up the water and compare.  Take good notes so you can see how they compare to the first bake.   You can also repeat the first bake, everything the same and see how the starter has been changing the dough.   

How's the starter maintenance going?

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

The starter is much more consistently rising.  I am feeding daily. Today, I am planning to pop it in the fridge as I won't be baking for over a week, so I fed it last night and it should be able to store now.  I like the idea off keeping things the same and trying to change one thing at a time.  I was going to try a different recipe, but I may learn more by mastering this one's unique characteristics.  

The dough wasn't too dry, but rather stiffer, as my previous breads were higher hydration doughs, so it was just different.  I think a more mature starter and the lack of retarding will make a difference too.

Thanks for the suggestions.

 Lisa

Netvet007's picture
Netvet007

So I made the same recipe without the overnight retard and with my now very hefty starter.  Wow.  Turned out beautifully and the crumb was perfect.  Taste was awesome.  Even my scoring is improving.  I think I am getting the hang of things.  Way better rise this time too.

Can't wait to start expanding my repertoire.  I ordered a linen couche and a baguette flipping board and will try baguettes next. 

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)