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rubato456's picture

need advice on maggie glezer sourdough starter

October 3, 2008 - 6:18am -- rubato456

i need somee advice on the maggie glezer sourdough starter. i am at the part where i have firmeed up the starter and it is a round ball. she says after one day of fermentation like this it will not have risen at all but will be very gooey. she says to refresh and continue.....well the dough doesn't seem any different than a firm round ball like it was yesterday, not gooey at all. should i refresh or wait another day?

canuck's picture
canuck

So, since the last post (which was quite some time ago), we moved back to Canada after three years of living in Africa.  I had a really good sourdough starter going in Zambia, it was reliable and very active, and I didn't want to just dump it.   I looked around and found some pages which described how to dry starter for transport, so that's what I did.  Here are the steps:

 1) I shmeared (thats a technical term,ha) a thin layer of starter all over a piece of baking paper, which I put on a cookie sheet.  In a couple of days it was pretty dried out and started lifting off the baking paper.  I let it dry out another day and then it was really dry and coming off the baking paper in big flakes.

 2) I took all the flakes, put them in a zip-lock bag and crunched them up into something that was close to powder.  it was a little a chunky, but still fine.

3)  I packed the zip-lock into our baggage and hoped for the best.  With all the airline paranoia I was a bit worried about explaining a bag full of white powder to the customs agent.  "Well, it is organic, and I use it...to..um....bake."  Sure, what will the sniffer dogs think? Luckily, nobody looked at our bags and the starter made it to Canada without any questions being asked. 

4) After we got home, I simply mixed the dried out started with some water and some flour in a covered container and let it sit.  At first, nothing happened, but after a few days a few bubbles appeared,  I then fed the starter some more and let it sit, and it became more active.  A couple more feed and refresh cylcles and it was going good as new.

 So, now we have Zambian starter in Canada.  I've used it a couple of times and it works great, so I'm pretty happy.  I'm no yeast scientist, I wonder if there are that many different strains of yeast that something that started in Africa would be very different than a starter started in Canada, from the "kind of yeast" point of view.  Anyone care to venture a guess?

 

 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Here is my crack at terminology that is commonly used in bread baking. It's a start, with a hope that with some comments these will be corrected and added on to.

Poolish - A French term. Uses commercial yeast. An aged mixture that is made up of equal amounts of water and flour, by weight, and a small (tiny) amount of yeast. (1)

Biga - An Italian term. Uses commercial yeast. An aged mixture that is made up of water and flour, which may but do not have to be of equal amount. A tiny amount of yeast is also added to this mixture.A Poolish is really just a form of Biga. A Sponge is the English term for Biga. (1)

Starter - An English/American term. An aged mixture that is usually maintained in a very small amount, that is used to start or seed a larger mixture that is then called a preferment. A starter made from commercial yeast is called a straight dough starter and a starter made of wild yeast is called a sourdough starter.

Pate Fermente - A French term. A small piece of dough reserved from the previous batch of bread. This is the only preferment that may contain salt in it.

Preferment -  An English/American term. An aged mixture whose primary purpose is to impart a maximum amount of flavor to the resulting bread. This mixture is allowed to fully ferment before (pre-) being added to the final dough mix. Examples are: Sponge, Poolish and Biga.

Autolyse - A French term. A technique where gluten containing flour and water are mixed and aged for a desired amount of time to arrive at desired gluten development level and flavor characteristics. There are no other ingredients present except flour and water. And flour has to contain gluten.

Soaker -  An English/American term. An aged mixture whose primary purpose is to hydrate the dry ingredients that are to be used in the final dough. The dry ingredients are gluten free.

High Extraction Flour - An English/American term. It is a flour that is between White and 100% Whole Wheat. It has a certain percentage of Bran and Germ removed.

Patent Flour - An English/American term. White Flour which was extracted from the central most part of the endosperm. Is considered to have the highest quality of gluten. (1)

Clear Flour -  An English/American term. White Flour which was extracted from the outer parts of the endosperm. Around the part where the Patent Flour was extracted from. (1)

Notes:

Difference between Starter, Sponge, Biga and Poolish. Well Poolish has equal amounts of water and flour. Biga and Sponge are the same to the best of my knowledge. A Starter is more clearly defined in a professional bakery environment where a small amount of left over preferment is reserved to be used in the next preferment. The amount of preferment mixed contains a small excess that is fully fermented. Then the small excess is extracted to be used in the following preferment, and the current preferment is added to the dough for the current batch of bread.

---------------------------------------

(1) Source J. Hamelman "Bread"

 

Edit 09/14/2008

Today I saw a FAQ page so I thought I'd link to it from here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/faqs

DannyDC's picture

Could it be the Chloramines?

August 27, 2008 - 9:19am -- DannyDC

Hello All,

This is my first post and my first natural yeast starter. I spent a good few hours reading all the posts to make sure I had a good understanding of what to do before I began. I was excited about the idea of making my own natural yeast starter, but unfortunately, it has not turned out as I had hoped. It has been a full week now since I began, and I have yet to get a rise out of my starter. Below I will explain in detail the process that I used.

yves's picture
yves

Well, I went a little crazy with kitchen equipment over the past couple of weeks. I finally found myself a pizza stone (two actually), as well as proofing baskets, and a mixer! Yes i went crazy! And you have no idea how hard some of it was to find... I ended up getting the pizza stones while I was in Amsterdam on business! At an amazing kitchen store called Duikelman, if you ever visit Amsterdam and want to see a *really* nice kitchen goods store its worth the visit. Right alongside the museums and art galleries and other tourist attractions. ;-) But then I had to lug them on the train back to Germany! I really wasn't able to find a single store in my home town that sold them. Same went with the baskets actually, so i got myself a nice one for proofing boules at Duikelman but then of course once I got it I found a *really* cheap place to buy them close to home. After searching all kinds of place I finally found them in Metro (a wholesaler) of all places. With a bit of linen cloth I MacGyver'ed myself a couple of nice little proofing baskets.

All told this bread thing has set me back some nice dough (heh) in terms of proper equipment, but its fun, and my kitchen is the better off for it. The mixer is actually one of these multipurpose jobos that will come in useful in all sorts of ways. I cant count the number of times Ive skipped a recipe because making it without proper tools would just be too time consuming. Anyway, thats the way I'm justifying the purchase to myself when I start feeling guilty. :-)

The mixer is a big deal for me. Having used it only once, to make Norwich Sourdough, its already pretty clear that it will totally change making bread for me, making it easier to do right with much less mess. The pizza stone seems to have had some effect, but im not sure how much, possibly I havent heated it up long enough first, I want to test more.

Anyway, about Norwich Sourdough.. The Norwich Sourdough I did as my inaugeral attempt with the mixer was easily the nicest sourdough ive managed to do so far. Perfect shape and rise, beautiful crumb and crust, and very easy to follow directions. One of these days Ill get myself set up to post pictures :-)

I would heartily recommend my fellow novice bakers to try the Norwich Sourdough recipe. It worked out great for me! So good im going to try it again after I finish this post. :-) One thing she doesnt include is a formula but instead only the recipe. Of course thats pretty easy to calculate from here recipe. Here it is:

%75 : 900 flour
%10 : 120 rye
%50 : 600 water
%30 : 360 starter 1:1
%1.92 : 23g NaCl

Flour = 900 + 120 + (360/2) = 1200
Water = 600 + (360/2) = 780

Hydration = 780/1200 = %65
Total = Flour + Water + NaCL = 2003g

Do look at the original page tho. The author has some important instructions there that you should read, and frankly the blog is worthy of a bookmark for any baker's browser. The author has lots of nice recipes and good style and touch for explaining a recipe. I think her site is great.

The other interesting thing Ive learned recently regarded diastatic malt. I fed a bit to my starter to give a it a bit of a kick last night when I was doubling it for todays Norwich Sourdough recipe. It went crazy! Instead of just doubling it trippled or more. Just insane. Maybe i used too much. But obviously the sourdough *really* liked it. :-) I think if you think your sourdough is sluggish a little dose of diastatic malt might be the thing to perk it up. So to speak :-)

Actually, since my last blog my starter situation has changed somewhat, and I guess I could stabilized. I got annoyed at maintaining two starters and mixed them together. The result is quite nice, no issues there, and since I dont need to keep two cultures separate anymore I have a free jar, so ive started a process of swapping.

Each day I feed it in its current jar, and then afterwards pour it into the new jar and put the old jar in the dishwasher for cleaning. That way no splatters or mess gets on the side of the new jar. I then use a piece of tape on the jar to mark how full the jar was post mixing, and then observe over the next 24 hours what happens, marking the highpoint (as shown by streaks on the glass or direct observation) also. Doing this over a few weeks Ive come to know the behaviour of my starter pretty well. It definitely has the capability of doubling or more in under 24 hours (more like 12) and it often appears to more than double. This says to me my starter is alive and well. Yay!

 

DeonS's picture

Question about starter

August 13, 2008 - 12:18pm -- DeonS

Hi!

I have a successful starter that has been in a preserve bottle (with a loose fitting lid) in the fridge for a while. When I opened it today I found that it had made a "skin" on top of the starter and it has a smell that reminds me of acetone (nail polish remover). (I haven't opened it for about 3 weeks.) I have scooped out the skin, given it a stir and it seems as if the acetone smell is dissipating. Is this normal? Or have I lost this one? I have left it out of the fridge to see what it looks like in the morning.

Regards,

Deon 

yves's picture
yves

Ive been looking into various recipes and explanations of creating a starter, and i thought id put a summary here.

--

Pretty well all of the recipes include a replication step like "divide in two, disposing of one half, and adding back a particular ratio mixture as a replacement". A very few have slightly different steps in the first few days but end up with this process at the end.

Additionally almost all recipes have the same general description for success: a mixture that when replicated displays a leavening effect (rises to about double its size) and a sort of "large bubble" foam on a consistant basis over several days. Notably many authors mention that it is common to see a false leavening effect caused by undesirable bacteria in the early phase of the process that then disappears after several days only to be replaced by the real leavening effect a few days later.

By far the most common recipe comes down to: take a 1:1 by weight mixture of flour and water and replicate every 24 hours until stable. Some recipes suggest 12 hours, and some require specific types of flour, with many recommending wholemeal or rye flour until the mixture is stable and then switching to AP afterwards. Most suggest that the unit be a cup of water. Also a number suggest using a 1:2 mixture (1 cup flour to 1 cup water is about 1:2 flour to water by weight),

Occasionally a few additives are suggested:

Acidic additives: These usually include some kind of acidic juice, with pineapple or orangejuice in the initial steps. The idea is that the juice lowers the ph preventing undesirable bacteria from growing but providing a good environment for wild yeast while at the same time providing sugars for the wild yeast to feed on. Vinegar is also suggested occasionally for similar reasons.

There are a much lower number suggesting using milk products. In this case the intention seems to be to encourage lactobascili, and also possibly the same justification as for the acidic additives.

Diastatic malt is also sometimes recommended with a tiny amount being added in the initial steps, also people that use AP flour will be unknowingly including tiny amounts of this as it usually added by the miller. The intention of this seems to be to provide sugar to the wild yeast, but enzymatically from the starch from the flour. Sometimes sweetener is suggested for similar reasons.

A few sources seem to suggest that you can manufacture wild yeast from commerical yeast, or that commerical bakers yeast will revert to wild.

One or two seem to suggest using things like unmilled rye or barly, or using the skins of wild or field grown grapes.

---

When i decided to make a starter I had access to a commerical starter "Seitenbacher(c) Natur Saurteig" that is widely available in grocery stores where I live in Germany.

Since I thought that was kind of cheating I decided I would make two, one a replication starting from some left over dough from a batch i made with the starter, and one with raw material. Aside from the fact that one included a small part of the dough I did exactly the same thing with both: replicating of a blanced blend of rye and wholemeal flour mixed at 1:1 with water with the base weight being 200 grams. I was very careful not to contaminate the wild one with the commerical, always working with the wild one first. On the third day I added a tiny amount (0.1 of a gram or so) of diastatic malt after I replicated (i didnt have any to add on the first day), And by the 8th day i had stability. The two behave somewhat differently with the wild one being a little slower to rise, but rising further in the oven, and they make a nice loaf mixed together. :-)

My opinion of this is that Im not all that convinced by the additives, with the exception of the diastatic malt. For the juices the reason is that I think its hard to control how acidic the formulation goes, and that citrus frust have their own associated bacteria and yeasts, which are probably not as appropriate as the yeasts we see living naturally on grain. (I will say though that I have seen one particularly cogent argument, incidentally posted here, in favour of using juice.)

For the milk i think its just generally a bad idea, some of the bascili in milk can kill you and also most milk you can buy is pasteurized anyway, and i think that the bascili we want grow naturally on the grain and on our hands and other places. We dont need it from milk. Sweetener I think is a bad idea. In general they are preservatives,

My feeling is that one wants to encourage the wild stuff on the grain to replicate and that introducing things that are totally foreign wont help. Diastatic malt is an exception because it is a substance that does naturally occur in wheat and other grains and so adding a bit more doesnt drastically change things. Also its effect is slower, something that i think is important, providing a steady supply of sugar over time instead of a huge amount at the start which tapers off over time, something which doesnt seem to me to be inclined to make for a stable environment, and after all one thing we are looking for is a stable environment.

Anyway, Im no expert, form your own opinions. But most importantly try it, it isnt very hard. :-)

 

 

funkdenomotron's picture
funkdenomotron

Greetings! Wanted to create a blog, and give a bit of history and aspirations. I have looked over this site a few times and finally decided to join. I am 31, I have been baking for almost 2 years. I was an army brat, and grew up in Frankfurt and Stutgartt. I first started with pretzels, and have come up with a realy good simple recipe that can be made with packaged yeast or starter. I live in south florida now though, and I'm not so sure the wild yeast here is quite up to snuff. Perhaps the heat and humidity play a role, the first batch and second batch yield a good bread, but the starter then tends to sour too much and turn into a grey lump of bla. I am also quite the avid ametuer chef, and take pride in measuring nothing. This is not a skill that is transferrring well to baking breads. I have been trying to bake a good baguette. Traditionally I have started with my yeast and warm water, then add slowly the flour, of course type depends on what I want, until I get a good dough. But there are books that say to measure and add all at once. There are books that say to knead vigorously for 8 min. There are books that say to knead lightly for 15 min. Some say to add the salt last, some immediatley. Some want a cold rise, some want a warm rise. Some want 3 rises, some want 1. To spray or not to spray? So I will be interested in some recipes and techniques, and I will try and figure out what i am doing when i make pretzels and post. Aufwiedersehen!      

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