The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Have Starter but now what...

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CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Have Starter but now what...

I have the Starter from SourdoLady and her recipe and am ready to go with my first Sourdough Loaf but do not know how to go from the 1/4 : 1/4; 1/4 (flour, water, starter )to the next step of one full cup of Starter. Should I just have the next batch be....1/2, 1/2,1/2? How does one expand this stuff and what is the limit?  A week ago SourdoLady said she was changing computers and I never saw anymore posts by her.  Is she ok? We love you where ever you are SourdoLady...

Kate's picture
Kate

If I have a cup of starter I generally feed it a cup of flour and a little less than a cup of water - so about equal all around. See about how much you have and put in the same amount of flour, would be my suggestion. Every day before I feed my starter I dump off all but about a cup, except some days I don't and I have more than a cup, but I still feed it a cup of flour (and an equal weight of water) and it all works out. 

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Nice Kate, but it is not an answer to the question.  Please read the question....SourdoLady where are you???

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Countryboy - if you have some ripe starter, that's great. Now to increase the amount of starter from what you had been keeping all this time, just do not discard all of the old starter like you usually do.

 

For example, you currently have 1/4 cup of ripe starter. It is time to feed it. To do that you were probably saving a little more than a tablespoon of ripe/old starter, throwing the rest out, and feeding it another tablespoon of flour and another tablespoon of water each feeding, which would give you about 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup total (depending on how accurate your volume measurements were), right?

 

So to expand it, rather than discarding any of the starter, keep it all (1/4 cup total) and feed it with 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. You now have 3/4 cup of refreshed starter, and in about 4-8 hours that refreshed starter should be ripe again (you'll know if it doubles), depending on how warm your place is and how active the original starter was. If you need more than 3/4 cup for a recipe, you can refresh it with more than 1/4 cup each of flour and water, it just may take a little longer to double in size again, but probably not much. So take your 1/4 cup of ripe starter, and feed it 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour - now you have 1.25 cups of refreshed starter that will probably be ready to use in 6-10 hours or so. If you need at least 2 cups of starter for a recipe, take your 1/4 cup and feed it 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water, now you have 2.25 cups, and it will probably take longer to be ripe and doubled, maybe 12 hours, maybe 18. 

 

I think Jim (jm_chng) stated on another post that ideal refreshment to keep a starter healthy and well-fed was to use the ratio 1:6:6, so if you had 1 tablespoon starter, feed it 6 tablespoons flour and 6 tablespoons water. I'm not sure how long that would take to be ripe after feeding, so maybe Jim can chime in here. I usually refresh at the 1:1:1 ratio, but I also keep mine in the fridge so that seems to work for me. If I were using it more often and keeping it out more, I'd probably take Jim's advice and refresh at 1:2:2 or 1:4:4.

 

If possible, you should consider getting a digital scale with a tare function, it is so much easier to measure more accurately your ingredients than using volume measures. 

 

Hope that helps...good luck. 

jim2100's picture
jim2100

T H A N K S

This is just the answer I was trying to get. In fact I just started a post asking this question. Thanks for going into detail for those of us who are new to this subject and the terminology.

Now one other thought. With the feeding as you state here.

"I think Jim (jm_chng) stated on another post that ideal refreshment to keep a starter healthy and well-fed was to use the ratio 1:6:6, so if you had 1 tablespoon starter, feed it 6 tablespoons flour and 6 tablespoons water. I'm not sure how long that would take to be ripe after feeding, so maybe Jim can chime in here. I usually refresh at the 1:1:1 ratio, but I also keep mine in the fridge so that seems to work for me. If I were using it more often and keeping it out more, I'd probably take Jim's advice and refresh at 1:2:2 or 1:4:4."

refreshment to keep a starter healthy and well-fed was to use the ratio 1:6:6, so if you had 1 tablespoon starter, feed it 6 tablespoons flour and 6 tablespoons water.

Is this the regular feeding i.e. refreshment.

Or do I go back to the one Tlb. of each again in the fridge until I want to use it again and build it according to the above method?

Is this a better method of the regular feeding / refeshment, I Tlb. starter, six parts each flour and water?

I'll get it with your concise answer.

 

Hope I am making sense. I simply want to know

 

And, then do I go back to the three tablespoons in the fridge with a weekly feeding?

Thanks

Jim

 

 

 

 

I enjoy cooking with wine. On occasion I even include it in the recipe.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Jim - since I wrote that post above back in Jan. I began feeding my starter at the ratio 1:4:4 each time I took it out of the frig. for the week to bake with it. But keep in mind I also use weight measures, not volume, and equal weights flour to water will give you a batter-like starter. If you use volume measure and use those ratios you will get a stiffer starter, which is fine too, it's up to you what is easier.

 

I think what you are asking is that if you do not use the starter to bake with, and just want to maintain it, can you get away with a 1:1:1 feeding if it is kept in the fridge? I am not sure, as I have not been maintaining starters very long, so there are others here who can comment on that better than me. I have read that some people do just that, while others insist that maintaining at that ratio may cause the starter to degrade over time, and that feeding more food at 1:2:2 or 1:4:4 would be healthier for the starter. Right now I am sticking with the 1:4:4 feedings both for maintaining an unused starter and for refreshing a starter before baking with it, but if I learn of a better method over time as my starters age, that could change. I'm keeping an open mind! Good Luck...

Tess's picture
Tess

I feed one of my starters twice a day.  I take out 100 grams of starter, add 100 grams of flour, add 100 grams of warm water, and stir.  I like to weigh as this gives me consistant results. 

I use the excess to make biscuits, pancakes, etc.  I know this seems like a lot of starter waste, but I use Ed Woods' book and it takes 2 cups of starter for most of the breads I bake.  I also use the starter to bake cookies, cakes, and sweet breads.

The other 4 distinctly, different tasting starters are keep refrigerated and feed either weekly or monthly depending on liquid or sponge versions. 

Tess

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I'm here and I have posted a couple of times since I switched computers but I guess you didn't catch it. Thanks for missing me!

 

The feeding of the starter doesn't have to be so complicated. The main important things to do are to always dump out most of it before feeding because it is "waste" after the starter has consumed all the nutrients, and always feed no less than twice as much new food as you have old starter (even more is better). For instance, if you save 1/4 cup of old starter, feed 1/2 cup or more of flour. If you prefer to weigh you can, and you can do equal weights if you want a thicker starter.

 

The starter isn't fussy about being fed too much--in fact starters are very hungry beasts. They will thrive on being well fed. I would err on the side of feeding too much rather than too little. I don't measure or weigh anything when I feed my starters. I just dump in some water and then add enough flour until it is of the consistency that I like it. All this talk of ratios is just too confusing and not necessary. Good luck with your bread! I'll be waiting to hear how it turns out.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

The big day approacheth...will report results on Friday. 

Tess's picture
Tess

I am interested in taking a portion of my starter and converting it to Reinharts' French Levain.   Everyone has different thoughts on starters probably because each environment is different.  I am interested in yours.  Also is there any good recipe books using this technique other that his?  I hate to add another starter with just a couple of recipes to try and I rather not have to play with hydration ratio. Which type of starter would you suggest for the Levain conversion?  I have my home gown wild yeast one (Little Friends), an Alaskan, Australian, Northwestern, SF, and Carl's. Also, any comments on a Russian starter.  I am used to converting Little Friends based on what I would like to make by using a cup to a Herman, Rye, or Wheat based starter for special recipes.  Any links or hints would be appreciated.  I try to keep the other starters in original form by reconstituting from dry starter that was created when I first received each if a change is noted.

All but Little Friends is keep in dry, frozen, or liquid or sponge form in the refrigerator waiting for special recipes. I know it seems like a lot of starters at first view, but with scaled down size weekly liquid (1 TBSP.) or monthly sponge feedings it doesn't take much time to keep them going and I enjoy having a variey of flavor and proofing time choices.

Tess

 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I know this question is for SourdoLady, but, really, a French-style pain au levain is really just a mildly flavored sourdough bread that's 85 to 95 percent white flour, with the rest being whole rye or whole wheat. It's usually got a mild flavor, which you can accomplish by using a fairly large amount of ripe sourdough starter ... say, 30% of the flour in the starter ... and then kneading it up, letting it rise once, and then a final proof after shaping.

So, here's how I'd probably make a French levain (in weights, because that's how I think these days)

9.5 ounces or 270 grams ripe starter (wet at 100% hydration)
9.5 ounces or 270 grams of white flour
1.5 ounces or 45 grams rye or whole wheat flour
6.25 ounces or 170 grams water
1 1/8 tsp or 9 grams salt
As far as the starter you use, I'd use whatever's at hand or whatever's the mildest. The first rise will probably take about 3-4 hours and the final proof about 1.5 to 2 hours at 70-80 degrees F. Slash it and bake it at about 450 (with steam, if you've got it) for 35 - 40 minutes, probably.

Hope that helps!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

By the way, this will make one big honkin' loaf, or two smaller loaves, as you like. :-)

Tess's picture
Tess

JMonkey,

  I took a little time and made a firm sponge and using the recipe in Crust and Crumb, and used the liquid starter recipe you suggested.  The liquid starter produced a better bread all around, looks, texture, and taste.   The ‘firm sponge’ levain didn’t rise as well.  Part of that was my mistake.  I should have quit when the dough felt right instead of trying to incorporate most of the flour.  Either way, you were right.  It is just a mild starter bread.

 

Thanks again,

 

Tess

 

 

Tess's picture
Tess

 

JMonkey or anyone?

Do you use a rye starter for your pumpernickel? Good recipe using 'regular' starter?

Tess
JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Rye is a different beast altogether. When I make rye sourdoughs, I do use a rye starter, but you don't have to. You can easily take just a small bit of whatever starter you've got, and then build it up with rye.

 

I once tried a 90% rye, but it didn't turn out too well -- or maybe it did turn out well, and I didn't like it. Probably, I was in a hurry, and didn't let my rye starter get ripe enough. I usually stick to 40% rye with 60% whole wheat, which I like an awful lot. 

 

If you want to do rye, I strongly recommend picking up Hammelman's Bread. He's a rye fanatic and has all kinds of great recipes, including one for pumpernickel.

 

Also, there's lots of good information on rye breads at this link.

 

More than you'll ever need, I wager. :-) 

sadears's picture
sadears

What exactly is pumpernickel?  Is it a really dark rye? 

 

Steph

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> What exactly is pumpernickel? Is it a

> really dark rye?

 

Whew - you are opening a can of worms there!

 

Pumpernickel can range from a sweet dark rye (see RLB's Bread Bible) to a solid brick of cracked rye, left to ferment for 3 weeks and rising a whole millimeter or two in the pan. And everything in between.

 

The flours sold as pumpernickel in the US range all over the map as well. King Arthur's is just a coarser (and therefore darker) rye flour (which I think is what RLB expects in her recipes). Bob's Red Mill pumpernickel is rye berry fragments about 1/8 the length of the whole berry. This is what I would consider "cracked rye", except that BRM's "cracked rye" is whole berries that have been whacked with a stick a few times in the sack!

 

The two that I have been making are the sweet version from Bread Bible (although as I have made it more often I have removed the sweetner from the preferment) and the Danish Rye that was linked on the Bread News a few weeks ago. Ah, found it. Luckily my spouse had just received a large bottle of Belgian-style ale that was perfect for the Danish recipe. I only made 1/2, and used 20% bread flour. Surprisingly it did rise quite a bit overnight in the fridge. A slice about 3 mm thick should keep you going a day of hard labor.

 

sPh

sadears's picture
sadears

Sorry, didn't know I was opening a can of worms.  Thanks for the info.

 

Steph

sphealey's picture
sphealey

The fun part of course is trying them all!

 

sPh

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

In the U.S., pumpernickel has been used to describe basically any dark bread that has rye in it. In Germany, though, pumpernickel is a very specific kind of bread. It's made from coarse rye meal and rye chops (that's the rye berry chopped up, a lot like steel-cut oats), water, rye sourdough starter and salt -- no commercial yeast and no wheat. Then it bakes at a low temperature in a very moist environment for a long time -- 16 hours, give or take a few.

 

The end result is a dense, strongly aromatic bread with a powerful flavor. I've not made it myself, but Samartha Deva's site has pictures and info. 

Tess's picture
Tess

JMonkey,

  I like to use weighing also.  It doesn’t take that much more of my time and I get consistent results.

  Thanks for the information, recipe, and the prompt reply.  I have saved the link and will try it, possibly tomorrow.  I left a World Bread and Cheese bread ready to bake back at home from a motherdough started last night.

  By the way, I tried your waffle revelation recipe Sunday morning.  You were right on target about the pastry flour. 

  Since I feed twice daily I always have enough ‘raw’ starters on hand for some type of fresh baked goodies everyday.  For everyday baking  we are not picky about the level of sourness in the breads. 

  Tess

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Good luck with the pain au levain. Hope it turns out well! And glad to hear the waffles were good -- white whole wheat pastry flour is tasty stuff. When I substitute it for white flour in quickbreads, I honestly can't taste any difference at all.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Sounds like JMonkey answered your questions well. I see I am not the only one who has many starters. You asked about the Russian--I have it and it is a mild flavored fast riser.

Tess's picture
Tess

Would you recommend getting it to use for any special breads?  Would it be a good choice for sweet breads since it is mild flavored and fast?  I use the Alaskan and mine for one day bakes.  Would the Russian perform well in this area?  Do you find you choose this starter for any particular breads? 

Tess

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Yes, it is good for sweet breads and rolls. You said you already had Carl's 1847 and I think that they are very similar although I have never done a side-by-side test of their rising capabilities. I also have the Red Sea starter and I have used it many times for sweet breads as well. I think the Red Sea is my favorite, along with my homemade starter which I call "Montana Wheat". My Montana starter has outstanding flavor. The flavor depends so much on how you proof your starter and how long your dough ferments. Two people can get totally different results with the same starter.

Tess's picture
Tess

I haven’t done any comparing of any recipes except the Alaskan and mine.  You are right about the same starter in different hands resulting in two different bread flavors.  My Mom feeds hers by once a week by using the cup method and the same type of flour.   I feed mine twice a day and weigh because I change flour brands occasionally and they vary weight or maybe I am not very good at scooping a consistent amount. (Mom’s theory) I have began keeping a sponge also and feeding it once a day.  I like Ed Wood’s technique because I can just mix up motherdoughs and decide in the morning what I would like to bake that day.   

 

I also thought I would compare the Levain bread by baking bread with just the liquid starter recipe JMonkey suggested  and the firm starter on pg. 82  of the Crust and Crumb and see which one best suits our home.

 

I also wanted to ask you how you keep your starters and how you use them. Not many people I've talked to have more than a couple and usually they are a variation of the first so I haven’t had anyone to discuss this with in my area or the net.  You would understand that I like to keep the different ones around for the holidays and special occasion request because each one is special in some respect

 

I haven't tried using yeast with the sourdough as my starter doubles in two hours and triples in three at 80 degress proofing temperature.  I read somewhere on the net that it would help all wheat bread get a good rise.  Does it change the flavor any?  I have always add 1/3 white flour to my wheat bread.   

 

I feed all my starters with Organic flours but bake with unbleached flours.     

I would appreciate any advice.

 

Tess

 

 

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

I am using SourdoLady's recipe for a Spelt starter though I've had to modify it a little, less water to flour ratio. It followed the usual routine as my whole wheat starter did though it didn't blow the lid off the container on the fourth day as the WW did <gassy wheat>.

I know others on this list have used Spelt but has anyone done a pure starter? I know Spelt has a weaker gluten but higher protein and requires less water than wheat but it seems to demand far more attention.

Anyone? 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I've not used a spelt starter myself, but in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking">, they have a number of recipes that use spelt starters. I know that when they were putting the book together, they experimented with a boatload of grains, and they loved spelt, especially in sourdoughs. Spelt, they said, ferments very readily but, like you said, doesn't have the same strength as wheat.

When I get home tonight, I'll look it over and see what they have to say. I've been curious about spelt bread, myself. I'd be interested to hear how it comes out.

Squid's picture
Squid

I was just reading Ed Wood's book called Classic Sourdoughs and was very intrigued by the section on Spelt, being that my mom is wheat intolerant. He mentions to just substitute exactly the same ratio of spelt:wheat.

I think I'm going to make a sourdough starter for my mom since it seems to be the consensus that spelt makes a great sourdough. It's certainly a challenge with yeast so I'm very curious to see what happens. She'd be thrilled to eat a bread that doesn't have the consistency of a brick.

I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences with spelt and sourdough.