The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Anyone Else Using Firm Retarded Starters?

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Anyone Else Using Firm Retarded Starters?

I keep a firm starter refrigerated between builds.  It's allowed to at least double in bulk under refrigeration before use as a poolish in the next batch.  Refrigerated development period is four to five days.  Leavening action is slower than most sourdough starters but the resulting bread is exceptionally flavored.


I'm wondering if anyone else has experience in this technique as it seems to have a related but separate set of rules.


+Wild-Yeast

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

1)  What temperature is your refrigerator?  


2)  "as a poolish" or mixed into a poolish?  A poolish also contains some added yeast and I know most to be runny and not firm.   


3)  Is this poolish a mixture of sourdough with added yeast?


4) What takes 4 -5 days, the starter or the poolish?


Mini

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Hi Mini, 


Fridge: 38 dF (~3.3 dC).


Poolish:  Dough mix plus retarded ferment.  Approximatel 3/8 to 5/8 respectively.


Starter is 4-5 days.  Poolish is 12 hours.


+Wild-Yeast

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you take part of your 12 hour old poolish, thicken it and it sits as a large firm starter for 4 - 5 days.  The 12 hour poolish will be mixed with more dough ingredients and allowed to bulk rise.


I believe your method requires lots of room in the refrigerator.  Is this correct?


Mini


 


 

rainwater's picture
rainwater

...and what do you mean by firm starter.  I keep my starter at @75% hydration.


This is firm enough to be able to mix on the table top with some kneading.  I feed mine once a week unless I use it during the week.  I always save a pound, and feed with  flour and water combined to equal two pounds at @75% hydration.  This gives me three pounds of starter.  After feeding, It rises on the counter until doubled/tripled....then I knead it briefly and put in the refrigerator until I need it. 


I feel like my starter is a moderately slow riser, but my oven spring is good; my bread usually springs up more than out-which I like. 


Sometimes, I like to try some "instant yeast" recipes.  Since I know how much flour and water is in one pound of my starter, I subtract these totals from the recipe and use the other ingredients according to the recipe....including the instant yeast.  I've had good results with this method.  Sort of a hybrid starter/instant yeasted bread....good flavor and good texture.  Here is my latest hybrid ciabatta.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(Reply to below statement) 


So the starter has only one hour of counter time after being fed and refrigerated again. The starter spends almost its entire life in the refrigerated environment.


At first I thought your refrigerator might be set warmer than the average to explain why this feeding method is working.


Mini


 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The starter is divided into two portions, one of which goes into the poolish and the other portion is used to refresh the starter culture.  The culture is refreshed with water and flour, kneaded, formed and tensionded before being placed in a 1 Liter airtight plastic container.  It is left to ferment for 1 hour at room temperature before being placed under refrigeration.  I don't use baker's percentages as I usually just go by sensory perception of the dough.  The dough is marginally on the "dry" side being slightly "tacky" to the touch. The dough is then retarded in a Pam sprayed, 2 Quart, restaurant grade, plastic container (doesn't require that much space in the refridgerator). This will make two 1.5 lb loaves of bread.


+Wild-Yeast

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Hi Mini,


That's correct.  The starter spends most of its life winter bound in the fridge.  It takes approximately three days for it to show signs of fermentation.  By day five it's beginning to bulge the lid of the container and it's time to start the build cycle once again.


Rainwater, how long do you ferment it on the counter?  The method I use only allows one hour room temperature ferment before refrigeration.  The ciabattas look ready for a little Italian bean dip and a glass of chianti.


+Wild-Yeast


P.S.  The dough mix for the poolish as stated above is in error.  It should be 3/8 starter to 5/8 dough mix.