The Fresh Loaf

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Starter help

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MANNA's picture
MANNA

Starter help

I have been delving into starter chemistry for the last month. I have been working on developing my sour flavor. I did a demolter method from Hammelmans Bread and got a slight sour flavor. I have been maintaining my levain at 100% hydration and its super active. I use cold water and refresh it every 24 hours. Heres the problem. An hour after feeding it its growing, alot! 3-4 hours after feeding its peaked. In less than 12 hours its fallen flat on its face. This morning back to refresh height on the jar. When I feed it its very vigorous and makes great bread. Just its super active and not sour at all?? Even after sitting for 24 hours no sour smell and a slight alcohol smell. I may try Chads recommendation and inoculate 200grams with a tablespoon of starter and let it ripen and see if there is some sour to it? Any thoughts?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and longer times will help the sour somewhat but white flours at 100% hydration, fed every 24 hours on the counter won't give you much sour.  In fact that will give you least sour bread.   Since labs and yeast reproduce at the same rates at room temperatures by the time the levain or bread has peeked you have the least amount of Labs.  Rye and WW for flour, cold temperatures 36F and long retarding of levains and starters at low hydration 60-66%  make for sour bread especially if you final proof at 86 - 88F.

At 36 F and 88 F Labs reproduce 3 times faster than yeast so you build your 66% Re an WW hydration starter at 88 F and then retard the  starter at 36 F for 2 days.  You then  inoculate and cultivate your levain using a small seed of starter, say 10 g, at 88 F on the counter using a 3 stage build and right after the 3rd feeding you retard the levain for 2 days at 36 F.  Then take the levain out of the fridge and let it finish doubling - that is when you use it to make bread,  Do all your counter work at 88 F if you can and then retard the dough for 24 hours at 36 F before final proof at 88 F

This will give you the most sour bread your starter can produce.

Happy Baking

CJtheDeuce's picture
CJtheDeuce

I printed that explanation out. I occasionally want very sour bread & this condensed description will be handy [ being that I gave up on my brain storing info long ago hard copy is good]. I already maintain a 100% hydration Rye stater in the fridge that I feed once a week. Makes good bread but not a lot of sour flavor.

Thanks

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

66% hydration and don't feed it.  I only bake 1 or 2 loaves of (1,000g) bread a week and now, after refreshing,  keep only 80 g of starter in the fridge.  If I use 15 g of starter per bake, after 2 weeks and 4 bakes, I am left with 20 g of starter.  I use 10 g to make another 80 g of refreshed starter and 10 g to make a loaf of bread.  Build the starter the same way you would a levain.

Take the 10 G of seed that is 4 g of water and 6 g of flour, and add 5 g each of flour and water.  After 2 hours at 88 F add 15 g each of flour and water.  Let the now 50 g of starter (24 g of water and 26 g of flour) double on the counter AT 88 F - this should take about 2-4 hours.  In 80 g of 66% hydration starter the flour amount is 48 g.  (80/1.66) and the water is 32g. So the last feeding is 22 g of flour and 8 g of water.  Let this sit at 88F until it rises 25% and then refrigerate it.  It will easily last 2 weeks but I refresh it when it gets down to 20 g  using half that amount for the starter refresh.

For a levain just double the feeding amounts and refrigerate it for 24 hours than take it out of the fridge and let it finish the doubling from 25 to 100% after the retard.  This will give you 150 g of levain plenty enough for 1,000g loaf of bread.  i just thin it out to 100% hydration right before I add it to the autoyse to make the mixing easier.

I call this the sour, easy as pie, no muss, no fuss, no feeding, no waste starter method :-)

Happy baking

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that i am so old that my brain is full.  In order for me to remember something new i have to forget something old,  Sadly, I have no control over what i remember new and what i have to forget if i do remember the new.  I told her that if I ever forget that she is my daughter or what her name is, just remind me and i will forget something else like how old she is and when she was born :-)

 

 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

I got a starter from Friends of Carl, because I'm just a newbie and I didn't think I could get one going, and it made good sour flavor for a few weeks, and I was refreshing twice daily with bleached AP. Then, it lost its sourness, and I tried lots of different methods to get some sourness back. Nothing worked at all. Finally, I bought some King Arthur Whole Wheat unbleached flour, and for a while, fed my starter with only that. The sourness came back in a week or so (can't remember exactly, but not long) and now I feed my starter about 25% WW, 75% cheap bleached AP, and 100% water. It stays plenty sour for me, although it was a lot more sour when I used 100% WW.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

If you ever get the science mastered, please report back and let me know. I thought I was fairly smart, until I tried my hand at sourdough baking.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

has been the subject of more biology experiments by scientists than any bother organism. The symbiotic relationship of Lbas and yeast in a SD culture is less researched but the science is pretty well known and understood. See my forum post on More than you ever wanted to know about Labs and yeast

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/32637/more-you-want-know-about-labs-and-yeast

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the starter the way you have.  It is a good worker with lots of yeast.  Don't mess with it's schedule.  You may want to reduce the size of it.  

When looking for sour, work with a portion of the starter, building the starter amount as suggested to see what works for you to increase the bacteria amount.  Then use it in conjunction with a recipe.  Often the recipe helps you build the starter for the right amount of flavor.

The idea is to separate the concepts of maintaining a starter with building the starter for baking.  (1) Keep a "mother" with a stable maintenance procedure and (2) use part of it for experimenting & baking.   The culture remains the same but the handling and recipes can vary.  You probably noticed that a detmolder method goes thru temperature changes and fermentation speeds to build sour tasting flavors in the end product.  Therein lies the answer.  

Once a certain population of yeast is reached in the starter, the fermentation is slowed down or warmed up to increase the bacteria amounts.  This can be done a number of ways.  Some bacteria when under stress produce more acids to secure their living environment.  We want to stress them, stress our little critters and force them to deliver more flavour.  We do that by taking food away, giving more food, slowing down their metabolism or speeding it up.  The right combination paired with the right bacterium in the right moment yields the desired flavour.  That is the tricky part.  

It can be even more fun when we all have slightly different mixed colonies of cultures.  What works for some cultures, doesn't work for others or may take longer.  It is not as simple as one type of yeast and one kind of bacterium, there are many varieties of living organisms in the sourdough culture but they tend to work and influence each other with some of them becoming dominant.  Change the way you maintain your culture, you may tip the natural growth process too far in one direction and loose your favorite flavor, then again, you may discover another.  Take notes.

Once you discover what gives you the flavor you desire, you may eventually end up changing your maintenance  schedule on your mother sourdough culture.  Always good to make some back-up  samples to go back to if you accidentally go too far with maintenance or experimenting.  

I suggest doing that now with some of the starter and then continue exploring.  It can be as simple as taking a tablespoon of starter and adding enough flour to make a very stiff or crumbly dough.  Shape into a compact ball and roll in flour, tuck into a plastic bag, label and refrigerate or (old method) drop into a corner of the flour bag.    Starter can also be dried by spreading thin on some baking parchment or plastic wrap and allowed to air dry.  Break up and keep in a cool dark dry place.  That way you can relax during your experimenting knowing that not all is lost if your starter suddenly gets thrown out,  contaminated or completely used up. 

MANNA's picture
MANNA

Thanks for all the advice everyone. Im going to try mixing a stiffer culture for baking while maintaining my current one. When using Hammelmans demolter process I did get some sour flavor. He states the first step grows yeast (120% hydration). The second step (70% hydration) gets the sour going. Then the last step (100% hydration) is the full sour/ripening stage before mixing the dough.

As you can see from the pics below my starter is very healthy and active.

Refresh after 24 hours at room temp (78 degrees F)

 

One hour later

This was last night and by this morning it had fallen back to the refresh level. I will keep you updated on my progress with getting a nice sour flavor. Dabrownman thanks for the feedback. Im going to give your method a-go.

Here is a sweet-potato bread made from the starter I refreshed in the pics. Instead of throwing some out why not bake with it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but your breads are looking pretty good!    

I'm guessing you mean one of the Detmolder methods, namely a 3 step build.  

The name comes from Detmold, Germany the city where the method was developed.  The ending "er" means "from"  Detmolder, from Detmold.  

I would guess if it was developed in Hamburg, we'd be calling it "the Hamburger 3 stage."  I can imagine the fun! :)

MANNA's picture
MANNA

You got it Mini, the detmolder method. It worked great. I just want to develop some sour tang and no go through a 3 day process to bake a loaf of bread.