The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough with a SUPER wet starter

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Sourdough with a SUPER wet starter

A comment from Joe Fisher in this lesson I put together got me thinking about trying a really wet starter to see how it turned out. I usually make my sourdough with a 50% hydration starter (1 part water to 2 parts flour) which makes a really stiff starter. What if I reversed it? What if I had a starter at 200% (2 parts water to 1 part flour)?

Well, I tried it. On Wednesday, I converted part of my stiff starter to a 200% hydration starter and fed it about three times before making bread.

The result?

It was still sour, but a different kind of sour. Less tart, more smooth. I liked it. Now, it's possible that my starter hadn't fully adjusted to the super wet environment and I had some stiff starter microbes hanging out, I dunno. But I'm beginning to think that time and temperature may be much more important to the sourness of one's bread than the starter itself.

Anyway, I'm still keeping my starter stiff. Less chance of a spill in my cramped fridge, and it's easier to give away as a solid dough that a liquid. Fun experiment though!

Comments

Melana's picture
Melana

This lesson was really helpful. I keep my starter in a more liquid form. I'm not really sure how to incorporate a more doughy starter. Would I add it to my finished uncooked dough product and knead it in? I have always scooped in the wet starter with my other wet products. My starter is 1yr 4mo old & I feed it once a month.
Do you generally add additional yeast?
Do you feel the wetter dough is creating a better loaf? I read about this in Floyds 10 steps.
After the 2nd rise, how do you shape the dough for pans without degassing too much??

Lots of questions!

Thanks
Melana

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

This lesson was really helpful.

Well thanks!
I keep my starter in a more liquid form. I'm not really sure how to incorporate a more doughy starter. Would I add it to my finished uncooked dough product and knead it in?

Treat a solid starter just the same way you'd treat a biga. Break it up into about a dozen pieces or so, add it to the dough after the autolyse (with a poolish or a wet starter, you have to add it to the autolyse because, otherwise, there's not enough liquid to soak the flour)and then knead it all up. It should become incorporated pretty well.

Do you generally add additional yeast?

I usually don't, though I have made some "hybrid" recipes that call for yeast. Adding commercial yeast speeds things up a lot, but also reduces the sourdough flavor.

Do you feel the wetter dough is creating a better loaf? I read about this in Floyds 10 steps.

Depends. Wetter dough will give you bigger, more irregularly shaped holes and more oven spring. It also intensifies the flavor. But for sandwich bread, I usually don't want big holes, and prefer to have a more even textured crumb.

When I'm making hearth bread, I usually go wetter.

After the 2nd rise, how do you shape the dough for pans without degassing too much??

I don't worry about degassing too much when I'm making sandwich loaves. You want to retain as much gas as possible if you want bread with an open crumb, like French baguettes or sourrdough rounds. But for sandwich bread, I just degass as much as possible, though I do so gently. I don't want to rip the gluten network.

Lots of questions!

Lots of answers! (I hope!) Good luck with your bread!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

I agree with pretty much everything JMonkey said; some very solid advice there. Here are my opinions on the subject:

This lesson was really helpful. I keep my starter in a more liquid form. I'm not really sure how to incorporate a more doughy starter. Would I add it to my finished uncooked dough product and knead it in? I have always scooped in the wet starter with my other wet products. My starter is 1yr 4mo old & I feed it once a month.
While I keep my mother starter (barm) in a wet form - like a poolish - the day before making the bread I will feed it in such a way that it becomes a fairly stiff starter, adding flour and only enough water to make a soft French bread texture. Let it proof about 4 hours, then refrigerate overnight. If I'm in a hurry, I will use it immediately after the 4 hour proof. Works fine. The only time I have used the barm directly from the jar is when I replaced the poolish in a formula with the barm. You can just go 1:1 in that case, although I usually don't keep enough of a volume of starter on hand for that to be feasible.
Do you generally add additional yeast?
Sometimes. If I'm modifying a formula that uses commercial yeast to use a starter instead, I will 'spike' the dough with yeast to give me the same ferment times. If I want a really sour tang, I'll skip the yeast and go with longer ferments.
Do you feel the wetter dough is creating a better loaf? I read about this in Floyds 10 steps.
Just like JMonkey says: for sandwich breads, a stiffer dough will give you that soft texture that makes sandwich bread so much fun. If I want an open, chewy crumb (ciabatta, French bread, pugliese) I'll go for a very wet dough. Here's what my last pugliese dough looked like (note the sheets of gluten):

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That'll give you a crumb like this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

After the 2nd rise, how do you shape the dough for pans without degassing too much??
Like JMonkey said, you don't have to treat it with kid gloves. They are going to get degassed a bit, just don't get out the rolling pin and you should be fine :)

Hope that helped,

-Joe

Melana's picture
Melana

Thank you both! I will try the wet dough this weekend. Both of your answers really clarified a my questins. I have an Austrian recipe with sourdough starter & rye in the bowl rising now-has doubled in about 6 hours-I folded it added pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds which I didn't have when I got started and now think I should refridgerate for the nite-can't decide whether to shape now or in the morning?? Any one have any suggestions??

Thanks to you all!

Melana

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

By all means, shape it now, cover it with plastic wrap, and then let it rise overnight in the fridge. It may not be fully risen in the morning. If not, just let it sit out, covered, for a couple of hours.

It will really improve the flavor!

Melana's picture
Melana

My dough is cracking as it rises. Not enough gluten? Now it's hardly rising - it's at room temp! It's basically a sourdough rye with some spices and seeds. Should I remake a new recipe and incorporate this old one? it's very hot and humid here in the east-maybe too much?? Any help?
Thanks
Melana

Melana's picture
Melana

I created a new rapid rise rye dough w/extra yeast and some high gluten flour. I added the same spices and seeds and incorporated into old dough. I alson kneaded a little longer. It has risen perfectly! I read a little fom minioven's entries (oat & oj starter) and it gave me a few ideas!