The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to this starter business...

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MrVagabond's picture
MrVagabond

New to this starter business...

I recently made my first starter using the Sourdolady technique from the handbook. However, now that I want to use it in a recipe, I'm unsure as to the type of starter I have. I don't know the hydration percentage or how to properly use it in a recipe, say... this one... Overnight Sourdough Pizza Crust. Thanks for the advice in advance. I'm excited to start using the starter.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'm new to the starter business too, so this answer might not be correct. Others, please feel free to correct me!


I keep my starter in the refrigerator. When I'm ready to use it, I take a piece of it, and mix that piece with water and flour.


The way I figure it is that if I need a 100% hydrated starter, I will use a 1:1:1 ratio (starter:flour:water).


So I mix that up and let it sit on the counter until it doubles, put it back in the refrigerator, and use it the next day by combining it with the other ingredients for the final dough.


--Pamela

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

that the measurements are weights, not volumes.  In other words, 1 ounce of water and 1 ounce of flour combined produce a 100% hydration mixture.  Same thing goes in metric measurements, which are actually easier to deal with.  In bakers' math, the flour weight in a formula or recipe is always 100%, whether it is 30 grams or 30 pounds.  The weight of water or other liquid ingredients (and, yes, I am over-simplifying a little) is compared to the weight of the flour and expressed as a percentage of the flour's weight.


A really stiff bagel dough may be at or below the 50% hydration level.  A really gloopy ciabatta or focaccia might be pushing, or even exceed, the 100% hydration level.  


If you measure by volumes, all bets are off when trying to calculate hydration levels.  For instance, you might be very careful to sift or fluff the flour before carefully and gently measuring out a cup of the stuff.  I might be scooper who packs in as much as the cup can hold.  Your cup would weigh, maybe, 4 ounces or so.  Mine would weigh 5 or more.  Both of us could then mix our cup of flour with a cup of water and think that we have a 100% hydration dough (1 cup water divided by 1 cup flour = 100%).  In reality, that cup of water weighs 8 ounces (close enough).  In bakers' math, your dough would be closer to 200% hydration and mine would be in the neighborhood of 160%, both wildly different than our volume-based assumption of 100%.


Paul

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Weights! That goes without saying. I weigh everything in grams, even liquids. I know that the liquid weights aren't totally accurate, but the recipes I'm working with have already taken that into account.


--Pamela