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Help me understand "builds".

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MarkS's picture
MarkS

Help me understand "builds".

Peter Reinhart touched on this briefly in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but did not elaborate.

I am working on a sourdough recipe. I want a 350 gram leaven in the final dough, so I am starting with 50 grams of 100% starter.

If I understand the meaning, my leaven has three builds with a fourth when added to the final dough, as follows:

First build: 50 grams of starter, plus 15 grams of flour to bring it to 60% hydration. Ferment overnight at room temp.

Second build: 100 grams flour plus 59 grams water, and ferment again at room temp.

Third build: 70 grams of flour plus 56 grams of water and ferment.

The final build will be adding it to the final dough. This, to me, seems what is meant by "build". Is this correct, and if so, what purpose is there in doing this as opposed to just adding the correct amount of flour and water to bring it to 350 grams and letting it ferment?

BobS's picture
BobS

In particular the section on 'Refreshment': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourdough

BobS's picture
BobS

In particular the section on 'Refreshment': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourdough

MarkS's picture
MarkS

I understand about starter feedings, and that is what I am doing. In Peter's book, he mentions that his sourdough recipe is a 3-build recipe, starter to firm starter to final dough, but he also mentions how some people do up to 6 "builds". He doesn't elaborate what the entails or why it would be done.

Julie McLeod's picture
Julie McLeod

I, too, would like to know why it's recommended that the volume of leaven is increased in stages rather than building to the correct amount in one step.  Good question!

mariana's picture
mariana

You are asking good questions, Mark. 

Build is leaven. I.e. 3 build recipe is "work from 3 leavens", an old French method of developing sourdough leaven to inoculate bread dough. Each leaven inoculated the following leaven. 6 builds is something akin to series of refreshments of sourdough starter to inoculate dough for panettone. 

Remember that when you manipulate cultures it is better to change just one parameter at a time to let microbes adjust gradually. Also, feeding is mostly expressed in proportions of flour in starter and flour in feed, because flour is where food is, flour determines the number of microbes in dough. 

Thus your first build (first leaven which later inoculates the 2nd leaven) is

25g flour in starter + 15g of flour in feed - very small feeding 5:3 with change in hydration from 100% to 60%

this will increase acidity of the starter and shift the kind of acidity towards acetic, not lactic

your second build

40g of flour in starter + 100g flour in feed - feeding 2:5, with stable hydration at 60%

this will keep the acidity of the starter level and develop gluten in it. This is a very generous feeding, it will stimulate yeast development in it. 

your third build

140g of flour + 70g of flour, hydration stable, feeding 2:1

this will concentrate flavour, increade acid load, and bring yeast and lactobacilli back to proper balance of 1:100, strengthen gluten

The numbers are approximate, of course, because with time microorganisms digest  nutrients and consume 'flour', so the recipe adjusts water, accounting for the 'loss of flour' due to microbial activity. 

Why not add the 'correct' amount of flour and water in one step? 

25g flour + 185g flour; feeding 1:7.25 with shift in hydration from 100 to 60% and acidity (TTA) from about 8-10 to 2-3 

- this changes way too many parameters at once: hydration, acidity, proportion of flour in starter and feed, number of microorganisms in starter and in flour and massively encourages yeast reproduction due to plenty of sugar in plenty of fresh flour.

I.e. the starter becomes yeasty, contaminated by bacteria and wild yeasts (undesirable yeasts) from flour, and the flavor and acidity shift drastically. If you let it ferment for a long time to build flavor and acidity, as in three build method, this will compromise gluten which in turn will damage the dough. It's complicated : ) 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

very much appreciated and crystal clear.  

Mini

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

concise explanation of why a 3 stage levain build works the way it does and have some more questions.about it.  What a fascinating subject!

Thus your first build (first leaven which later inoculates the 2nd leaven) is

25g flour in starter + 15g of flour in feed - very small feeding 5:3 with change in hydration from 100% to 60%

this will increase acidity of the starter and shift the kind of acidity towards acetic, not lactic

Why does changing hydration, in this case lower from 100% to 60%, change the acid type that the LAB produce when given a small amount of food to eat from lactic to acetic?  Does the yeast reproduction rate lag the reproduction rate of LAB for a while after feeding -  like they do for the first 10 days when creating a new SD culture from scratch and this also contributes to increasing the acidity of the starter? 

40g of flour in starter + 100g flour in feed - feeding 2:5, with stable hydration at 60%

this will keep the acidity of the starter level and develop gluten in it. This is a very generous feeding, it will stimulate yeast development in it.

After feeding the ph of the levain goes up to over 6 from the 3.5  that it was prior to feeding. 4 hours later it is about 5 and 4 hours later about 4 again and at 12 hours it is 3.5 ph.  So what you are saying is that 12 hours after feeding the acid level in the levain is back to where it started before the feeding?

Not only will it stimulate yeast development but LAB development as well - and since LAB outproduce yeast at every temperature from 36 F to 93 F LAB will be increasing faster than yeast too?

140g of flour + 70g of flour, hydration stable, feeding 2:1

this will concentrate flavour, increade acid load, and bring yeast and lactobacilli back to proper balance of 1:100, strengthen gluten

I can understand that acid load would be increased.  12 hours after this feeding the ph would be back around 3.5 again and LAB have been outproducing yeast during each of the previous feedings.   So why is 1:100 the proper balance for yeast to LAB in a levain as opposed to 1;1,000 or 1:500?

Thanking you in advance and Happy Baking 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi dabrownman, 

you are asking a lot of questions : ) and some of them are based on assumptions that are not universally true. 

I am not a specialist, so take my answers with the grain of salt, OK? 

- Why does changing hydration, in this case lower from 100% to 60%, change the acid type that the LAB produce when given a small amount of food to eat from lactic to acetic? 

- It doesn't change the acid type that the LAB produce. It shifts the proportion of acetic acid to lactic acid that LAB produce. I.e. in warm liquid batter LAB produce much more lactic than acetic acid. In cool stiff dough LAB augment production of acetic acid and the proportion of lactic acid to acetic acid changes. Since in the recipe the hydration went down and temperature is below 25C/ 77F, i.e. 'cool' from the point of view of sourdough bacteria, we are dealing now with stiff cool sourdough instead of a batter. 

It is not a matter of amount of food either. It is more related to two other parameters: oxygenation (i.e. kneading stiff dough traps air) and fructose content of flour. Fructose and oxygen trigger more acceleration in acetic acid production than in lactic acid production. 

 

- Does the yeast reproduction rate lag the reproduction rate of LAB for a while after feeding -  like they do for the first 10 days when creating a new SD culture from scratch

- I don't know about lag in yeast reproduction... or about 10 days. Starters can be created from scratch in 24 hours, or in 48 hours. Hardly any lag, really. 

At room temperature (21.0-23.5C) yeast outpaces LAB, reproduces much faster : ) 

- 12 hours after feeding the acid level in the levain is back to where it started before the feeding?

- I don't know what you mean by the acid level.

pH measures how sour the starter is, i.e. how strong are the acids in the dough. Some starters are mildly sour, others are very sour to taste (have lower pH). TTA measures quantity of ALL acids, strong acids and weak acids in dough, i.e. TTA measures acid content. pH is pretty much irrelevant in the sourdough management. So I meant acid content , otherwise known as acid load. 

- since LAB outproduce yeast at every temperature from 36 F to 93 F LAB will be increasing faster than yeast too?

- maybe what you say is correct for some species of LAB and yeast, but generally the opposite is true (see chart above for reproduction rates) and charter below for activity rates.

There is a point ( about 22C) at which LAB become more active than yeast. It is easier to perceive the chart below as 'there is a range of temperatures, 21-24C,  in which LAB and yeast are more or less at the same level of activity":

same in degrees Fahrenheit

- why is 1:100 the proper balance for yeast to LAB in a levain as opposed to 1:1,000 or 1:500?

- sourdough yeast depends on LAB, they are in symbiotic relationship. LAB digests starches and leaves some of the sugar for yeast to eat. Yeast provide LAB with crucial nutrients and vitamins needed for LAB metabolism. Mutually convenient relationship.  It takes 100 cells of LAB to feed one yeast cell, so to speak.

If there are 1000 LAB cells per each cell of yeast, there is something going on with the starter, maybe the temperature is too high for the yeast to grow, or pH is too low, or something else. 

best wishes, 

mariana

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

I don't understand what you mean by "flour in starter"?

Can you explain in each build how much Starter/Flour/Water?  Thats how I understand it with the ratio of 3

Thank you!

mariana's picture
mariana

The amounts of starter, flour and water are indicated in the very first posting in this discussion, i.e. where MarkS writes:

 

"I want a 350 gram leaven in the final dough, so I am starting with 50 grams of 100% starter.

First build: 50 grams of starter, plus 15 grams of flour to bring it to 60% hydration. Ferment overnight at room temp.

Second build:[to the first build add] 100 grams flour plus 59 grams water, and ferment again at room temp. 

Third build:[to the second build add] 70 grams of flour plus 56 grams of water and ferment."

 

 

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Got it, Thanks!

lizzy0523's picture
lizzy0523

I'm new too, but basically I think of each "build" as a new opportunity to tweak and customize the dough's flavor and texture. If you just did one build, you would get to the end of the proofing period and if it wasn't right, well you just have to live with it. The builds allow the dough to go through different stages of fermentation (like mariana says above) in a way that you can control and monitor better. My understanding is that serious bakers will be able to change the dough at each build to get to their perfect dough; so they might stretch the process out to as many builds as they need until they hit that sweet spot. I don't have the ability to really see things that need changing as I build, but the process will hopefully help me learn! 

BobS's picture
BobS

Hamelman's 'Bread' discusses not building too fast in general terms, but aside from the Three-Stage Detmolder breads, his sourdough breads have a single levain build, at least in my first edition. 

He innoculates white levain at 20% and rye levain at 5%.  

What I take away from this is that I only need multistage builds when the innoculation percentage woul be below those amounts, or for Detmolder breads. 

Unless I want to mess around:)

Gingi's picture
Gingi

Mariana (what a buetiful name!) - I have some questions:

According to your ratios... when taking out a "mother" that has been growing in the fridge the first feed should be 5:3 (mother:flour) the second 2:5 and the last 1:10?

When feeding you are NOT keeping the 100% hydration consistency?

Another unrelated question I have is - when re-building a mother - what are the ratios your suggest (we can discuss it via PM if you want).

Also, where did you get these graphs? they look great!

Thanks.

 

   
mariana's picture
mariana

Gingi, 

the ratios are not mine, but from the first posting in this discussion. It seems that they are from Peter Reinhart's book. 

But if I had to build, I would start with active starter, not with a starter from the fridge. Peter's recipes are building flavor and special taste in breads. And when we are talking about builds we indeed talk about three steps in building quality of leaven for a particular bread, not three steps of activating dormant leaven. 

How to activate a starter which is kept refrigerated, should be indicated in the recipe for your starter. I.e. different starters usually come with different methods of activation. Some are kept liquid, some are kept stiff, some - dry (mixed with flour), some - floating in water, etc. Each kind of  starter and method of preserving its quality in time requires special method of re-activation and building necessary amounts and flavors from it. 

5:3 is not 'mother':flour, it's how much flour in the 'mother' relative to the amount of flour in the fresh food you add to her. If you have 5g of flour in your mother (plus several grams of water) you would add 3 g of flour when feeding her (with or without water)

Hydration doesn't mean consistency. It's the amount of water you blend with the flour. It can give you a range of consistencies, depending on water absorption of your flour. 

 

Graphs are from the Internet : )  The grey one, for example, is from http://www.egullet.com

 It has been discussed here already

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1871/good-egullet-sourdough-article

MarkS's picture
MarkS

How do you quote on this board? O.o

"the ratios are not mine, but from the first posting in this discussion. It seems that they are from Peter Reinhart's book"

I am working on the recipe myself and it is not based on Peter's book. I brought his book up because it is both where I had first learned of builds and the source of my confusion regarding builds. Sorry for the confusion!

The flour and water percentages I posted in my original post are based on my desire to build the starter from a 100% starter to 60% and from 50 grams to 350 grams. They were based on quick and rough calculations.

Thanks for all of the info! Keep it coming! This has already been very enlightening!

ml's picture
ml

"we are talking about builds we indeed talk about three steps in building quality of leaven for a particular bread, not three steps of activating dormant leaven". 

 It seems that we are building a dormant levain to an active one. Then, many bakers take a very small % of the active levain and feed one large amount of flour & water, to get the levain for the dough. Yes?
dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

for the dough levain.  I start out with 5-20 g of starter from the fridge and size it to match about 10-20% of the total dough flour and water  depending on how long i want to retard the dough. 

ml's picture
ml

How would you build for a FWSY, or Tartine, where they use about 15-50g starter to 200-400g flour/h20 for the final build?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

800 g loaf depending n how much time I have and how sour I want it.  I have a 125 g rye66% hydration  starter in the fridge that is built the same way with the exception of the last water amount.  I keep it in the fridge for 4 weeks, without feeding,  taking a bit each week to make a loaf of bread .  In 4 weeks it is powerfully sour but  it needs to be refreshed back o 125 G  by then.

I don't usually bake a mild sour white bread like FWSY  or Tartine and prefer more substantial SD breads that are much more sour than the typical  SFSD and have 30-60% whole grains

Levain BuildFirstFirst 2nd2nd 3rd3rd  Lcvain
DoughStarterBuild Build  Build Build  Build Build % of
AmountAmountFlourWaterTotalFlourWaterTotalFlourWaterTotalTotal
8003661411113622228010.0%
80048821171754333312015.0%
8006111128222272444416020.0%
8007141434282890555520025.0%
80081717413333108666624030.0%

If you want more levain, just pick the one that is half of your amount needed and double everything.  These all end up around 100% hydration.

Here is the Starter build

  1st 1st 2nd2nd 3rd3rd 
Stockseedflourwatertotalflourwatertotalflourwatertotal
 101010302020704015125
 0000000000
 0000000000

 I should not that all of these buulds for stock starter or levain are done at  83-93 F with the higher number producing more sour.

ml's picture
ml

Thanks for the details!

So, I know a baker that builds his stiff levain with 69% inoculant over 5 days, & uses 100% levain in formula. Pretty sour.

He also makes a 125% levain with 20% inoculant & 50% levain in formula. Pretty mild.

Some of my best breads have been with the 1-2-3 method, sometimes with bits & pieces of levains.

So, most bakers say that the flavor comes from the levain, & then the fermentation.

Do you have an opinion on how much difference it makes to use 20%  levain that was built 1:1:1, for example, as opposed to 20% levain built 1:10:10?

mariana's picture
mariana

- we are building a dormant levain to an active one

- It seems to be a matter of terminology. Levain is not dormant. It is by definition active and ripe.

Levain comes from French tradition in sourdough baking. They distinguish between chef and levain. Chef is simply microbial culture (bacteria+yeast). Levain is sponge, i.e. prefermented dough, which will become part of the bread dough itself.

I.e. in chef the most important quality is its microbes, healthy active microbes. In levain the quality of its dough is of paramount importance, because it is loaded with acids, with fragrance, has well developed gluten, and must be of good eating quality

So chef is you 'starter', something that should be activated, if it was dormant (cold, refrigerated, or dried, etc. ) Activation of your starter , of your microbial culture, can take hours or days, it depends how damaged it was in the process of dormancy. 

Once the starter/chef is active, i.e its microbial population is balanced and works at top speed, you use it to inoculate leaven/sponge and then sponge will become part of your dough. This way the substandard quality of dough in the starter/chef is not important, because with it only a tiny portion of flour and water will make its way into the final bread dough. 

So in modern times, French and Germans work with sourdough cultures pretty much in the same way they work with pure yeast: different ways to create direct dough or sponge-dough systems, including the ancient ones, such as work from two or three sponges (a.k.a detmolder process in German baking, travail a trois levains in French baking, and series of bigas to build pannetone dough in Italian baking), i.e. a series of preferments is created all becoming part of the future bread dough. 

- many bakers take a very small % of the active levain and feed one large amount of flour & water, to get the levain for the dough.

- many bakers do indeed. : )  At least we can see that way of creating sponges being frequently discussed on the Internet forums. A portion of levain from previous baking is used as a chef, i.e. as a carrier of microbial culture, to inoculate bread sponge in the same way we use tiny amount of yeast, store bough or home-maid (raisin water, etc) to inoculate bread sponge or bread dough itself. 

And so it helps to distinguish between microbial culture which is propagated and kept more or less intact, even when dormant

starter- chef- lievito madre

and leaven, in which portion of bread dough ingredients (water, flour, etc) is inoculated with microbes from the chef/starter to create fragrant developed preferment which will become part of the next preferment or part of the bread dough itself. 

sponge/poolish - levain - biga

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Thanks for the well worded explanation of the multiple build technique.  In a nutshell it's a way to prep your levain to be at it's "tops" in whatever acidic state you desire (via feeds/hydration).  I just recently used a formula from a reputable baker my friend worked for and the final levain build was 2:1 (seed:flour) which seemed odd to me and I expected a rather mild loaf but that was not the case.  It had great depth of flavor and plenty of acidity.  

Something that I think wasn't mentioned was each of these builds generally speaking from what I have seen become gradually shorter.  So a 12 hour build, then 8, and final build peaks in 4-6 hours.  

Very informative and interesting

Josh

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Best thread of 2014 for me.

Very useful and informative.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

What an informative thread! I think I need to read over this a few times.