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Have been trying Ken Forkish recipes. Q about consistency of starter:

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Theresse's picture
Theresse

Have been trying Ken Forkish recipes. Q about consistency of starter:

I've gotten into my own rhythm I guess you could say - starting last December I think - of refreshing and reviving my own sourdough starter.  I have a loosey goosey method of adding about the same amount of flour as there is starter, or a bit more in most cases, and then a bit less water.  I stir it up until it's a thick goup, but wetter then a dough, if that makes sense.

I may be misunderstanding/misreading Ken's book, but for some reason the whole wide world seems to suggest making/refreshing SS the way I do it (or close to) whereas he says to use a LOT more flour.  It seems like such a waste because of course he wants you to go back down to about a 1/2 cup after tossing the rest - or 1/3 cup (forgetting that detail at the moment).

When making a levain recipe using no dry yeast, can I use my sourdough starter the way I like it/make it, and do every other little thing exactly as his recipes call for?  Or do I really have to make a super thick starter that's more like a dough I'm guessing?  Well I guess I'll find out tomorrow since I used my starter in tonight's recipe which is fermenting now.  But I guess I'd also like to understand why it matters (in theory at least), regardless of outcome.

Thank you!

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

It sounds like Forkish prefers a stiff starter, probably in the 50 - 60% range. There was a thread on wetter vs. drier starters recently: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/38724/starters-battertype-and-thicktype

There seems to be a lot of people who favor stiffer starters, though I still like the ease of maintaining a 100% hydration one.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Thank you Cerevisiae! Will check out that link now.  Your answer was quite helpful just as it was even.  So far, it seems that my starter worked - in fact - oops I'd better get down there and do something with it before it collapses! 

108 breads's picture
108 breads

To me, 100 percent starter means very little in the way of calculations. My starter is roughly 100 percent as I never weigh what goes into it anymore; I rely on thickness and texture. Be led by your own preferences and needs. The wisdom you will acquire in producing a good bread or two a week will be worlds apart from the recommendations of someone like Forkish, whose baking experience is based on a big bakery operation.

As for feeding a starter, I never throw away starter when I feed. Generally, I use up almost all of mine with each loaf and then I build up the starter again for the next loaf.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

I've been doing the same - I no longer measure but just eyeball the amounts of flour and water to refresh the starter with.  Same with temp of water.  Ok so now I understand that 100% hydrations means equal amounts.  Didn't get that before.  Clearly I didn't read every single page of Forkish's book.  I skipped the starter chapter just cause I've already been doing it for a while but I can see I would have learned something.

I almost never throw away starter either.  I haven't gotten to the point of using almost all in a loaf yet (that seems so advanced - so full of confidence, haha) but I'm getting lower every day and it's funny how proud of myself I feel for just taking that little step.  I always have a backup starter and I often use the discard in pancakes and waffles.  Yesterday I made pancakes with it but there were about 6 pancakes' worth of batter left out for a couple of hours (oops - I just remembered there was an egg in there!).  Today I used that batter and it was so much more sour tasting and REALLY good cause I made a very crepe-like batter - not too thick or overly-fluffy.  So delicious with jam and coffee. :)

Note: I majorly ranted to you (not in a bad way) about using one's senses and being a sensory person in general.  Then I copied/deleted and I'm going to put it in another thread cause I'm wondering how other people feel about what's happening to the world - how we're losing touch with some pretty important things and how important I think having hobbies is - at all ages.  The title of the post/thread will be something like "staying human" or "do any of you consider yourselves more 'sensory' than the average person."

Thanks!

 

Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

I too am baffled about the amount of discarded by-product that results from following Ken Forkish's formulae. I have been using his formulae, but I scale the starter and levain back to just what I need, minimizing the discard, and haven't been having any problems with my outcomes.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Good to know, Les!

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

I agree completely with Les. Forkish's amount are truly wasteful, and I wrote that to him in a comments section for his book when it first came out. Forkish is such a thorough and thoughtful guy that I suppose he has a reason for it, but I cannot imagine what it is. The increased amounts do not affect flavor, as far as I can tell -- and isn't that the only reason to do it? 

Anyway, I have scaled back the starter to very normal, very-low-waste, amounts, and all the formulas work fine for me.

108 breads's picture
108 breads

Theresse, Put in a reply to this thread to let us know when you have posted your thoughts about using one's senses and include a title. Curious to read your rant. - Sheryl

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

makes about 3-4 times the amount of levain he needs for a recipe and then tosses 1/4 into the dough he is making and the other 3/4ths of it in the trash while claiming is it 'spent fuel':-) That of course means that the part he used for the bread is also spent fuel since it is exactly the same thing. 

if you want to be as wasteful and foolish as Forkish and chain yourself to maintaining a liquid, white starter on the counter, I'm OK with that as a bread libertarian  - no skin off m nose.  But, the entire world doesn't do this - not even close to it.  Much of the world realizes Forkish is a little bit nuts when it comes to starters and we just ignore him.

I maintain a small 120 g when first built, stiff 66% hydration  rye sour starter in the fridge and bake out of it every week with no maintenance whatsoever.  I used the last of it 2 days ago, 8 week later, to build this week's levain and refresh the bit of it left back up to 120 g for fridge storage then net 6-8 weeks.

Some folks have it down to a science and don't even maintain a starter per se at all.  They just hold back some of the dough after ferment for next week bake or build a tiny bit more levain than they need and store 20 g of it for the next  bake.

No need to follow the Forkish or Tartine way of maintaining a starter.

Theresse's picture
Theresse

Thanks - that makes me feel better!  I'd like to ask him why he does that.  I live in the same city so maybe someday I'll bump into him (it's a small city) and ask him WTH.  ;)

I like the idea of keeping the same starter alive for decades.  I know it's not always practical to do that but I love that idea - or to pass it on to the kids or what have you.  So it's a very loose goal - meaning if I abandon it, I abandon it.  I wish I'd known my grandma kept a sourdough starter.  My mom told me that recently and I didn't have any reason to know that as a kid.  I'd love to be able to say mine came from her.  Ah well - long gone now!

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

in SF in 1973 and it is over 40 years old - but not really.  Yeast only live 26 reproduction cycles and then die about 2- 3 days usually.  LAB actually eat the dead ones.  So the starter I had ways back when is nothing like the starter I have today.  Each new batch of flour I feed it has different wee beasties in it so the culture changes.   It has literally been all over the world and the US and fed every kind of flour and liquid imaginable.  Its been in Gilbert for 28 years now but even that doesn't mean much.    It's not at all the same starter it was 25, 20, 15, 10 or 5 years ago.  it isn't the same as it was a year ago or even 3 months ago,.

I think it more worthwhile to help the kids make their own starters to tend and baby and teach them to make great SD bread with their Mom as a  fun family hobby than give them a jar of micro organisms that are less than 26 reproductive cycles old that they have no ties to other than you - so I say no worries.

I bet there are much better things you remember about your Grandmother than a starter you never knew she had.  I knew my Grandmother had a SD starter and she even took care of mine several time for extended periods of time.  I think about her all the time but not once about her starter other than she made bread with it with my Mother and Aunts.  They had such a great time together doing it  - but it was white bread sometimes with a little WW in it  :-)

Happy baking

ExperimentalBaker's picture
ExperimentalBaker

My fridge has bottles of "spent fuel" that I don't want to throw away. Accumulated them when the starter was still young and I left it on the counter. Now that it is in the fridge most of the week, there is no more "spent fuel". Planning for a waffles, pancakes, muffins party.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I keep a small amount of Forkish starter in my fridge, and down-calculated the amounts to feed, so that I end up with little more than I need for the bread I plan to bake. I never understood the rationale for all that waste. Do the same for Tartine breads.

Karin