The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Frankenstein Starter

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Frankenstein Starter

So I set myself a challenge this week. Create a new starter and bake bread within a week. The bread I have in mind is a Hamelman recipe and he always uses (or often uses, atleast) a high hydration Levain of 125% hydration. So my new starter will be the same. I also think that logically it would be faster as a higher hydration starter ferments quicker. I also don't wish for cross contamination so I'm one step ahead and use new containers. Cutlery washed thoroughly a few times since I've last used them for baking. A clean slate, as it were. So here is the timescale so far...

Sunday early evening : mix together 50g boiled water (cooled) and 40g bread flour. Left on radiator for a few hours then into a cupboard overnight. Don't keep my radiator on through the night or when I'm at work. 

Monday morning : the beginnings of activity are present with small bubbles on top. I leave it for now. 

Monday evening : risen and smelling a bit funky. Leuconostoc. Add another 50g water and 40g bread flour. Back in top of heater for a few hours then into the cupbard. Fully expecting the quiet period now. 

Tuesday morning : risen again! and still smelling funky. Take off 90g and feed again 50g water and 40g bread flour. Into the cuoboard it goes. Tell myself it's just a continuation of the leuconostoc stage and it'll be quiet when I get home.

Tuesday night (tonight) : risen again and bubbling. Smell is still a bit funky but not as bad. Mixture is separating somewhat with water on the bottom. Get rid of most of it and feed 100g water and 80g flour. Mix. Smells more like yoghurt now. Better! Back on the heater it goes. Within 2 hours it's bubbling again and separating with top blown. Give it a good stir and could actually hear it fizz. Back on the heater. An hour later more bubbling and separating. Decided to discard most of it again! and just top up with flour to thicken it up. 45min later it has risen once again. Two big discards and feeds within 2 hours. No slowing down. Beginning to smell nicer too. 

What have I done right (or wrong!)? I'm almost thinking I've screwed up something and wondering if I've created a starter or something not as friendly. I shall keep at it but the beast is hungry. 

hreik's picture
hreik

I have not the foggiest idea, but I loved reading the narrative of Frankenstein starter.

hester

Lechem's picture
Lechem

It's angry but just misunderstood :)

Jacob Lockcuff's picture
Jacob Lockcuff

Sounds like the starter needs to go on a diet lol. It's starting to eat a little much!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I fed it last night. Peaked and fell by morning. So I found myself feeding it again at 5.20am. Gave it a flippin big feed so hopefully that'll tide it over till tonight. I'm still expecting that lull, I'm sure it's too good to be true.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Once you have worked with cultures in your kitchen, your workspace is generally colonized by the culture you worked with. When I was fermenting all manner of things (dairy-yogurts and kefir, vegetables-pickles,fruit  and kimchee), nothing ever spoiled in my kitchen-it just fermented. Mold activity was very low. It was noticeable. That being my experience, I'm not surprised you can make a fast starter in your kitchen as you are already colonized. Just keep feeding the beast!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

a safe haven for good bacteria and yeasts. instead of being up to two weeks away of making a starter I'm only a few days away. It's just so unusual that I was a bit surprised. We'll see how it's faring tonight.

Learn something new every day.

Thanks Clazar.

Vtg79's picture
Vtg79

Came across something while trying to understand high hydration starter/levain n why it helps bread ferment and proof quicker (the vermont recipe u shared). Not sure if this is the same reason your starter is so active..

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/44902/understanding-my-125-hydration-starter

Lechem's picture
Lechem

I think we have a few things going on here.

My favourable kitchen. Lot's of fermenting going on over the past few years so the very environment is favourable to a quicker fermentation.

Very wet starter which does speed things up even in a cooler kitchen. This and me keeping it really warm, even more so.

I have now thickened it up (as it kept on separating) and we'll see how it responds. Good information. Thank you.

hreik's picture
hreik

updates?  How's Frankie doing?

 

hester

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Frankie was never destined to be on going. Once the challenge was over Frankie was going to be amalgamated into my mother starter but now you've given him/her(?) a name...

Delayed Onset Quiet Period - but not quite!

Arrived home last night to find Frankie bubbling away on the bottom. Tried to look for signs of rising but wasn't sure. So I pushed ahead with another feed, a big one (did I overdo it?). Discarding and feeding so early in the morning is a bit inconvenient so I decided to whittle Frankie down a lot so I could feed come the next morning without the need to discard. So at 9pm I fed as follows... 10g starter + 20g water + 20g flour. Back on the radiator for a couple of hours and definitely the first signs of fermentation. Into the cupboard for the night , Frankie! not me :) 

At 5am (I'm an early riser) checked up on Frankie and... nothing besides for a few more bubbles on the surface. Smell was still yoghurt like but non of the cheesy smell as in the first few days. Pleasant but not the crisp smell like in a mature starter. A bit disappointed I decided that it was a 1:2:2 feed afterall and it's been 8 hours. Perhaps the big discard and a good feed shocked Frankie. So I planned on only stirring and skipping a feed. But Frankie being who he/she is hadn't given up all his/her secrets. When I stirred loads of bubbles came to the surface.

Definitely something going on here and despite the best option being to skip a feed I decided to give a half feed. So to the 50g starter I added 25g water + 25g flour.

What can I say, Frankie is eccentric. Perhaps a quiet period for him/her is less so then a normal starter which appears dead during this time.

I realised this morning that the recipe I have in mind actually incorporates a biga on top of a sourdough starter. It's the Durum flour recipe from Hamelman. To really pass this challenge I would need to do a 100% sourdough but I've set my heart on this recipe. Think i'll stick to it as an active starter is also needed for good results and I suppose it'll still be put to the test. Anyway, Frankie has 3 more days to pull through.

hreik's picture
hreik

narrative.  Keep her/him going!!!!!!!!!!  Well the narrative at least.  Good work.

hester

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

has he / she gone quiet again or rocking on?

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Frankie is doing strange things. Got home to find no rise but evidence that he's hungry. Funny thing is I don't think there was ever any rise but there was hooch on top and starter had gone very liquid. When stirred more bubbles appeared. All evidence of fermentation but not the usual bubbling up.

So Frankie was now 100g and I fed 50g water + 50g flour (10g whole rye, 40g bread flour). A poor feeding I know but want the usual signs before I go back to regular healthy feeds. This is Frankie's quiet period even if producing some signs of fermentation. After two hours there were some bubbles on top so I was hopeful. Come morning (8 hours later) there had been no rise and looked very quiet from the side of the container. However when I peered in there were loads of frothy bubbles on top, a lot more so than previously, and now smells like a starter. Not the yoghurt like smell of a young starter trying to take hold, like it has had up till now, but the more crisp lively smell of a mature starter, if you know what I mean. I think this is definitely progress. Did not feed this morning and just stirred.

Frankie now has two days to pull himself together.

I've decided on he as Frankenstein's monster was a he.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

look forward to seeing the bread you bake with Frankie ....

lots of fun!  happy baking Abe

Leslie

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Following the method for a firm starter from the Della Frattoria book.

It was a shame that I accidentally cooked Frankie (that does sound terrible) and I've learned my lesson that radiators can be too hot for starters. Keeping this one well away and it's doing just fine.

First feed was 100% hydration with 90% bread flour + 10% whole wheat. 24 hours later it had bubbled up.

Second feed was to reduce the hydration to 50% with 23% starter fed with the same ratio of flours. Within 8 hours it has at least doubled. Just two feeds 24 hours apart and it's doing very nicely.

For the next 8 feeds it'll be the same. 24 hours apart, 50% hydration, 23% starter, 90% bread flour + 10% whole wheat. After which Frankie Junior will be put to the test.