The Fresh Loaf

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how to incorporate the firm starter...cutting it in 10 pieces...and ???

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trailrunner's picture

how to incorporate the firm starter...cutting it in 10 pieces...and ???

So the recipe says to remove the firm starter from the fridge...cut it into 10 pieces in mixer w/ dough hook...add salt and water....mix low 2 min...autolyse 5 min...mix low 2 min...mix med high 30 sec...remove and shape into ball...back in fridge. Now I did all of that and it worked like a charm...dough is perfect....except there are tiny lumps all through it from the starter. So now what ? c

gaaarp's picture

Did you let your firm starter come to room temperature?  It will mix in easier that way.  Let it sit out for about an hour after you cut it into pieces.  Actually, I don't cut mine up anymore.  I get it out of the fridge and let it sit for an hour or so.  Then I tear it into pieces as I add it to the flour and salt in the bowl. 

I've also found that a good old hand kneading, even for a few minutes, will incorporate the starter pretty well.  I sometimes use the strecth-and-fold method for my breads, but I discovered that with sourdough, the pieces don't seem to get mixed in unless I knead the dough a bit.

What I usually do is mix and autolyse the dough, then take it out of the bowl and knead for a few mintues, just until the starter is well incorporated.  From there I rest the dough and use the stretch-and-fold method.

trailrunner's picture

No I am following the recipe. More fool I. I am not sure that even if I had waited an hour that it would mix in better. It looked fine and the dough looked fine till I took it out of the bowl and was doing the 30sec hand knead/shape for retard step. That is when I realixed there are tiny tiny "dumplings" for lack of a better description in the dough. Will they break down doyathink? It is supposed to retard till tomorrow. This is a no-knead bread recipe..." I am testing this ...wink wink". So not sure what to do. I have another different firm starter in fridge for tomorrow. It is supposed to be the same exact steps but has ww flour in it. I am tempted to put the starter in the water and let it soak. I had another recipe that I did that for and the dough was perfect. Keep the suggestions coming...I really don't want to throw it out. c

leemid's picture

Not to malign a recipe I haven't seen, but if it doesn't work when you follow it...? I try to follow a new recipe the first time to test it before fiddling with it, but only once if it gives me problems. Or I just look for another. There are certainly a plethora of successful recipes on this site, and bakers how have successfully used them.

I agree with trailrunner. But let me ask, is the starter fully developed when you take it out of the fridge? If you put it in there after a refresh before it had time to fully develop, you need to take it out and let it do so. When it is fully risen, it will be amply supple and easy to incorporate. I also mix the dough flour and water together for an autolyse, but stretch the developed starter over the top of it in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and give it an hour. Then when I turn it out I knead the two together and there is easy and full incorporation. There is also much less of the wet-dough handling problem because initially I am only handling the starter. Then on the stretch-and-folds done later the whole thing has begun to handle much easier. I started this process by accident, but it sure works well each week for me.

That's my story,



mountaindog's picture

Trailrunner - I know the recipe tells you to cut up the firm starter or levain and knead it into the dough, however I have found it much easier to instead add all of the warm water intended for the final dough into the firm starter to dissolve it first (in separate bowl). If the starter or levain-build has fermented enough, it will break down in the warm water fairly easily. You willl still have some solids there, but they will mix into the final dough much easier after being soaked in the warm water. I usually dissolve the starter in the water, stir it as best as I can, and let it sit and soak while I mix the rest of the flour, salt, whatever in the mixing bowl. then I stir the watered starter again and add it to the flour for the final mix.  I never seem to have any unmixed pieces of dough when I do it this way. Hope that helps.  MD

ermabom's picture

This is exactly what I do. I take all the liquid in the recipe and add it to the starter and dissolve it with my hands. Then I mis up all the dry ingredients, stir the liquid starter and add it to the dry stuff. Much easier than trying to mix firm starter into dough. 

Russ's picture

I do it similarly, but I also usually use a stick blender to mix the starter into the water. From the results you've gotten I guess it's not really necessary, but since I wasn't sure I felt better getting it thoroughly mixed.


trailrunner's picture

Lee I am trying to follow the recipe...not my instincts..can't say more. Yes my starter was perfect and this was the stiff starter/levain made from my wild yeast and let to ferment for 48 hrs. It is good for 3 days. It was beautiful and puffy and perfect. Anyway this is not a kneadable dough recipe or I would have done as you suggested.


MD  - yep that is what I knew I should have done. Have done before...will do tomorrow. so much for following recipe. :)  THANK YOU all. c

holds99's picture

who's the author?  I'm not familiar with adding salt to a starter if you're trying to get it cranking. 

Anyway, FWIW...what I do is take the starter, using scissors, cut it into small pieces about the size of a pea/bean and, using wire hand whisk/whip and the mixer bowl, vigorously whisk it into the water until it's completely incorporated/dissolved in the water before beginning to add the flour for the build. 

The only way I can think of to do this using the mixer is to use the mixer's wire whisk and do the same wire whisk drill that I mentioned previously.  From my experience, you are very unlikely to break up the starter and get it thorougly mixed with the water using the less than a few hours.