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How do I get my new starter ready to bake, have I screwed up?

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cfiiman's picture
cfiiman

How do I get my new starter ready to bake, have I screwed up?

Hi all,

My 2 starters have been going for a week and are both doing wonderful.  In the beginning they were not pleasant smelling and I believe the bad bacteria was causing the "action" I was seeing.  Then days 3-5 nothing, just dead, then from day 6 on they have been smelling like fine wine/yeast, it is wonderful, and they both peak after feeding in less than 4 hours.  I know they may still not be old enough to depart a wonderful flavor yet on breads but I was thinking I would try one out on pancakes.  So that got me thinking and researching how do I turn my 150g starters into enough to bake with and have some left over?  I have searched and searched but can't really find an answer that doesn't leave me a little confused.  I simply just decided I wanted 2 cups to bake with today so I added a cup of flour and equal part of water by weight to a new bowl.  Then I stirred in my whole starter (150g.) and mixed it up and covered it.  Then I got a feeling of "uh oh, did I do that right" and am still not sure, so I have a few questions if you experts could let me know:

1. Is there any rule to how much I can increase my starter by (could I have made 100 cups if I wanted instead of just 2)?  

2. Will I now have a starter that is just much bigger or is it not as good as what I had before b/c it is diluted?  

3. When it rises and falls is it then considered all starter?  

4. Have I screwed all my hard work up?

Thanks for any guidance.

cfiiman's picture
cfiiman

Just an update, don't think I ruined anything b/c it has already doubled all the quantity that used in 2 hours!  I would still like to know about any "rules" to following when increasing the size of the starter for baking though :)  The starter smells wonderful too.

phaz's picture
phaz

that's exactly how my white flour starter went,  to the day!  and I did make a loaf when I'd was young.  no problem rising, and very sour,  to me anyway.  but I don't go for a super strong sour. I like it to creep up on the back of the palette,  kind of sneaks up on ya. no rules as to how much, or how little starter you want to make. I make enough for the bake, and leave a little left to feed and build up again for the next bake. basically, the more food you add, the longer it will take to get the same concentrations of bugs. most try to keep the amounts small to reduce waste, bit you can add as much as you want. you'll have a boat loaf of starter pretty quick though. when it rises and falls, you should have a maximum of bugs. the rise is from bugs feeding, and the fall is from bugs about out of food. the longer you wait after the fall, the more the chance bugs will die off. you want to use a starter when it's at its peak, the time of highest rise, to just after the fall. this ensures the highest concentration of active buggers for the food that was available. and nope, you didn't mess anything up! even though it sounds like you added a lot of food, a young starter is very hungry, it may take a tad longer to use up all that food. just wait for the peak and try making a loaf. it should be good and will only get better over the next few weeks. happy baking! 

holds99's picture
holds99

On a post about Chad Robertson's method, I recently answered some questions from Les Nightingill as to how I do a double sourdough build that may be of help.  Here's a link:

 http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/34425/tartine-levain-rise-time#comment-264625

Howard

cfiiman's picture
cfiiman

thanks for the replies, well I made the pancakes according to a recipe I found, they were very good but way sour lol.  Not sure I like the batter being 100% starter but that is what many of them called for so I did it that way.  Can I try using it for bread or should I wait another week?

phaz's picture
phaz

 this young a starter,  bread will be very sour. in another week or so it will balance out,  then you can control the sour with fermentation times and methods.

cfiiman's picture
cfiiman

Great thanks, guess I'll wait then, but I could always use the practice getting a nice artisan bread lol.  So is what I did just adding the whole starter to a new bowl and then putting in the amount I needed for baking an acceptable method of increasing the starter?  When it started rising I just used what I needed after stirring the whole mixture up and then put the rest back into a clean container as my "starter" again.  I'm thinking maybe there is a better way, like dividing the starter and only using the divided amount maybe, or does it matter at all?  Guess I was just worried about diluting it with the introduction of a lot more flour/water than normal, but I'm not sure it matters b/c the amount I had left and put back is going bananas lol.

phaz's picture
phaz

that's basically it. you just add more food till you get the among you need. for example, you start with 1oz starter, and need 5 oz for a bake in 3 days. you would add 2 oz food each day and on the 3rd day you have 7oz total. use 5 oz and you're left with 2 oz to feed each day for the next bake. that's what most, including me, do. General rule is, more food you add, the longer it takes for the starter to reach max concentration of bugs, which is when it's at its peak. any amount of food is diluting the starter really. but eventually the bugs multiply to use the available food and the magic balance returns. young starters are hungry beats. they will go through food like crazy. but like the sour, this will calm down once it matures. you're almost there!