The Fresh Loaf

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Reinhart's BBA wild yeast starter question

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mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Reinhart's BBA wild yeast starter question

My first attempt at an all wild yeast starter:

Today I began making the wild yeast starter from BBA p. 229 by scratch. I see the recipe calls for dark rye flour. All I have is Hodgson Mills Stone-Ground Rye Flour, which is pretty light. When I weighed out the flour then weighed out the water and added, it made a very wet mixture, not at all a stiff dough as the book states it should be at this step. I decided to add as much rye flour as I needed to make the dough stiff, but I have no idea if I messed it up by doing so. Is the problem with using the light rye vs. the dark rye specified? Or should I just proceed with it as is? I'd hate to mess this up as it takes so long to be ready to use.

 I also see on other posts about Reinhart's correction to the BBA starter recipe by adding pineapple juice, so I may need to start a new one anyhow using this or OJ.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Your flour will work just fine. The key elements here are that the flour is whole grain and that it is fresh. You can also switch to using juice with your next feeding if you want. I would highly recommend it. The juice helps to get things going quicker by lowering the pH. This also helps to prevent mold from growing or bad bacteria from taking over in the early stages before the yeast starts growing. Don't be surprised if around day 3 or 4 the mixture appears dead after it was previously bubbly. This is common because the first bubbles you see are not the yeast, but bacteria causing bubbles. Just keep up with the daily feedings and in about a week you will have your starter going. Good luck! 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Thanks for the feedback SourdoLady! So many variables and what seem like so many ways to ruin a starter attempt - I appreciate the help. I am glad I don't have to run out and find dark rye flour just yet, the nearest store likely to have it being about 30 miles away. Hopefully what I have is fresh as I just purchased it Friday. I'll feed the little guys some orange juice tomorrow morning.

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

As with Sourdolady, your flour will be fine, and you can use most any flour as a starter. I've used all-purpose, whole wheat, and now a combination of light rye and bread flour.

You can also add yeast bearing organisms too. I'm using grape skins from my own organic grapes, they make for a bubblier and stronger starter. I've had a Kefir whey starter and a Desem starter which is the whole bread too which I heartily recommend, here is a good place to start http://www.justhungry.com/2003/12/desem_day_0.html with Desem.

Best of luck with your new starter!

fotodevil's picture
fotodevil

About month ago, I tried the starter from BBA. I too only had Hodgson Mills rye, and it worked fine. I was seeing a significant increase in bulk by the second day (maybe I need to clean my house if that much yeast is active so quickly!). I was very happy with the results. I have since been feeding my starter/barm (what's the difference, anyways?) weekly with bread flour. At the last feeding I decided to spike it with a little more rye. I haven't tried it, but it looks good. And if not, I save the bit of starter from before the rye spike and froze it, just in case.

 

I haven't added any juice or grapes. Can anyone tell me if I should do this to help things? WIll it improve the flavor at all?

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

So, after following the recipe for wild yeast sourdough starter religiously, but adding OJ early on as ammended by Reinhart and others, I attempted to make a few batches of bread this past weekend when the starter was 6 days old: I tried the Pain Poilane recipe from BBA and the Country French Bread recipe from Glezer's Artisan Baking book (which worked GREAT for me previously with a starter spiked with commercial yeast BTW).

Oh my - what disasters! -  way too embarassed to post pictures...they all never rose, even after proofing for hours and hours, I also tried retarding some loaves overnight in the frig, then proofed again at room temp - still no rise...so I hoped for oven spring - nope, they came out of the oven looking and hefting like a bunch of curling stones...The interior was very gummy, one or two large holes and the rest solid gum (temp registered 205-208 on thermometer). The Pain Poilane was especially heavy and rather bad tasting...I guess the whole wheat flour I used was just too heavy and I was not able to sift out the bran to mimic a high extraction flour.

What did I do wrong? The starter looked bubbly before I made the final barm, but maybe not so active after that once it was refrigerated for 2 days. Is it simply too young and needs more feeding and time? Is my house much too cold for the starter to ferment (@ 60F)? Did I use too much salt in final dough and kill off the yeast before it could rise? Did I use too much flour making the dough too stiff? Maybe all of the above...who knows

Since then, and after looking over some other sourdough posts on this site I decided to ignore the books for now and go with my instinct...I saved a very small portion, renewed it with rye flour and am feeding it every day with equal parts rye and OJ to double the weight each time, keeping it at room temp, and monitoring it closely it to see if it rises to double, at which point it may then be ready? So far I have bubbles but it has not risen at all, but I'll keep feeding it every morning and see what happens. I also made a second version with white bread flour rather than rye to see who looks better by the end of the week. Oh well...hopefully practice will make perfect someday!

My only consolation this weekend was that I made 2 batches of the Pain a L'Ancienne from BBA (uses yeast) and it was absolutely delicious and very easy...the French in-laws promptly devoured it and demanded more...

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Hi Mountain Dog.Couple of questions and maybe some answers! But first, feeding the sourdough. If you're planning on baking wholewheat, I'd go for feeding the starter with white bread flour and water. The rye and OJ is OK for starting the starter - but once active, it needs only water and flour. (I personally don't like OJ in the starter either - just water and rye work fine)Also, you say that the starter  was "maybe not so active after ...refrigerated for 2 days". Did you feed it, leave until nice and active, feed again and then use when really active? If not, it needed refreshing before you made your bread dough.I don't know what quantity of bread you wanted to make, but usually you'd be aiming to have 30% of the weight of the final dough as active, recently fed (8 hours or so earlier) starter. I.e. if you want 1000 gram loaf, you'd be using 300 grams active starter. So you'd have taken about 30 grams refrigerated starter, fed with 40 grams flour and 40 grams water and covered it, leaving it out of the fridge, for about 12 hours - morning till evening, say. Then you'd take this amount of starter, add 100 grams flour and 100 grams water, mix, cover and leave ovenight - and there is you 300 grams of active starter.This should easily leaven a 1000 gram total loaf in about 5 - 8 hours even in a fairly cool room.Don't give up - when you get it, the results are great!!!
Andrew

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi Andrew_I,

Thanks! I think I see where I may have gone wrong. I did refrigerate the starter after day 4 (Thurs AM) as per the instructions in BBA, or maybe I misunderstood the instructions: it said to refrigerate for up to 3 days without feeding if not using right away. I wasn't planning on using until Sat AM so I left it in the frig. after Thurs. and did not feed. I didn't realize I needed to take it out of frig, feed, and ferment at room temp another 8-12 hrs before using, which makes perfect sense in looking back - that's probably where I went wrong...I probably took the book too literally at that point and didn't use common sense. I just used it right out of the fridge to make a levain and then a final dough 8 hours later.

From this point on I intend to just keep both barms at room temp in my pantry and feed them every morning when I feed the dogs and cat...is feeding once every 24 hours enough until the 8-12 hours before using where I'll do a more recent refresh? Or should I be feeding every 8-12 hours all week long? I'll switch to water after today but may keep a rye starter going along with the white for use in different recipes.

Thanks for the encouragement and hopfully I'll do better this coming weekend for my Christmas baking...if not I'll be sure to have some pain a l'ancienne baking as a backup.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Hi. Yes, feeding daily will be OK but personally I do find keeping them in the fridge is best. Feeding once a week or so is much less extravagant in the amount of flour used!! And you only need to "think" one day ahead - if you want to bake Thursday morning, take the amount of starter you wamt out of the fridge Tuesday evening and refresh it. Wednesday morning feed it with your flour and water and Wednesday evening make your dough up.Also, if you wanted to experiment more, why not keep one in the fridge and feed it once a week and the other in the pantry and feed it daily?  After about a fortnight I'm suure you'd have decided which method suits you!
Andrew

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Thanks again Andrew_I...after 4 days of daily feeding and discarding a lot of excess starter, I see your point about weekly feeding as long as I think ahead a day or two before baking. I'm also thinking that because this is a pretty new starter and they get better over time with each refreshment, daily feeding might be a good idea for a week or so until it really gets going, then I'll go down to weekly feedings. I will experiment with some of the excess and put some in the fridge to see how well it comes back after feeding. Thanks for all the tips! By the way, both the rye and white barms nearly rose to double from their morning feeding size by the time I got home from work last night, very bubbly...looking very good right now...will keep feeding and look forward to first dough building by Friday night. I guess a good rule of thumb is if the barm has not at least doubled in size 8-12 hours after last feeding, it's not ready. I also convinced my husband to let me turn up the kitchen heat to a balmy 62F for the sake of the yeasties...  ;-)

Happy Pre-fermenting for all of you busy elves who will be baking this weekend!

buh's picture
buh

Caroline--Keep us posted!! In the meantime I'm going to get BBA and make your recommended pain a l'ancienne. Thanks!

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi BUH, yes I finally had success after learning a lot from this site, you can see the results on my blog entry here for my active sourdough starters, resulting bread, and the pain a l'ancienne. Check out also the Columbia bread blog both here and at Breadnerd's here, Columbia's my current favorite recipe using sourdough starter.

Mountaindog (aka Terry)

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Your rule of thumb is about spot on - if the starter hasn't doubled, don't use it until it has!Happy baking!!

gloria mielke's picture
gloria mielke

Sick looking bread

I have made sourdough bread several times and baked them at 375 degress as the San Fransico starter book said.

They didn't brown at all even tho I left them in the oven an hour.  Also, absolutely no holes in the crumb even tho I made the Autolyse method to produce holes.

Anyone know what I did wrong or what to do right?  Also, I made a very wet dough one time and a stiffer dough the next and both ended up the same.  Very pale as if they weren't baked at all.

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

I took out my stiff starter yesterday and refreshed it with a combination of AP white and rye.  I work at night so I let it sit and came home to a nicely risen starter.  I put 100 gms back in the frig for next time and have started the sourdough rye from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  It is the first loaf I am doing from her book.  I usually stick to my Handelmann book.  Has anyone else done this bread and how did it turn out?  I am thinking about letting the starter ferment out on the counter for 2 hours and then put it in the refrigerator until tomorrow morning. I deviated from her basic build as I ran out of the AP flour.  I did 228g of AP white (all I had left until later) and 72g of mediun rye with 150g of water and 75g of the refreshed starter.  I felt it was a little too dry due to the additional rye so I added just a touch more of water until it was slightly tacky.  I will have to see how it ferments and might just keep going and not do the refrigerator rise.  Any suggestions?  The starter is about 4 months old and I have used it to do a nice Pain au Levain several times.  Seems the more I play, the better my bread gets. All suggestions and/or comments welcome.

Rena in Delaware