The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Impvoving the loaf with Sourdough Starter--Help needed

Janknitz's picture

Impvoving the loaf with Sourdough Starter--Help needed

I hope I don't double post--my first try seems lost.

I like to make King Arthur's Multi-Grain Loaf ( ) but it is still a bit heavy and stales quickly.  Dan Leopard suggests using sourdough starter along with the yeast to help the loaf stay moist and enhance the flavor.  He suggests that you add 150 g starter for every 500 g of flour in the recipe (approx. 30%).

Does that mean ADDING 150 g starter to the recipe for every 500g of flour or does it mean REPLACING 150 grams for every 500 g. flour.  My inclination is the latter.  In the above recipe, for example, there are 14 oz of flours in the recipe.  4.2 oz is 30%, so I would add 4.2 oz of starter, replacing 2.1 g. flour and 2.1 g. water.  But is that right, or should I just be adding 4.2 g. starter to the recipe as it stands????

My other question is that this recipe calls for "Whole Grain Bread Improver".  I make my own by adding vital wheat gluten plus a little vinegar.  Do I still need to do this if I'm adding sourdough starter, or does the starter replace the "improver"???  My inclination is to continue to add the vital wheat gluten to help the structure, but the vinegar to acidify it won't be necessary.

Opinions please?????



rainwater's picture

When I substitute starter (my starter is 75% hydration), it's because I'm using the starter that I would dispose represents flour and water to me.  Using baker's math, which is discussed in "Bread Baker's Apprentice", I figure a close approximation of how much flour and water is in my 75% hydration starter.  I subtract this from the totals of water and flour in whatever recipe I'm using. 

I really like King Arthur flour and their products, but I've never used any of their recipes.  Several of the recipes seem to be formulated to use their products, such as "whole grain enhancer".  I'm sure this works, but I prefer to work with simple flours.....I am very interested in the use of vinegar in the doughs though.  I wish I knew more about this vinegar addition to dough.

Janknitz's picture

My starter is 100% hydration, so replacing equal amounts of flour and water is what I was planning. 

It just didn't make sense for me to mail order the KA dough improver, so I looked up the ingredients and learned that it was basically vital wheat gluten and ascetic acid.  It definitely needed the improver because it's a heavy loaf with many grains so I replaced it with gluten and vinegar--because I didn't have any ascetic acid on hand.  That seemed to work well enough.

The question is, do I still need to add either the vital wheat gluten or the vinegar if I'm using the sourdough starter for basically the same purpose?  My guess is that the gluten would still help, but the vinegar would be superfluous or perhaps even bad for the bread. 

sojourner's picture

If Dan (or anyone else who knows breadmaking) said ADD <etc, etc>, then that's what I would do. If he'd meant replace, then I'd assume he'd have said so. The worst you can do is waste some flour and some heat. Let us know how it turns out.



Janknitz's picture

This is exactly what Dan said  "Then add 150g of this mixture  ["natural leaven"]  to every 500g flour in your recipe together with the yeast to help the loaf stay moist and give the crumb more flavour."

He did say "add" not "replace". 

So perhaps you're right, Sojourner. 

I plan to bake tomorrow night, and it will take a few days to see if it stales as quickly.  I'll keep you posted. 

pattycakes's picture

I just started adding 100% hydration sourdough starter to a high hydration baguette I've been making, and I didn't really notice the difference. I added 100 g of starter to 500 g flour. I also replaced 100 g of bread flour that the original recipe called for with either ww or rye. I didn't adjust anything, and the baguettes came out great. Dumb luck? Donno. Perhaps the whole grain flours sucked up the extra water.

It did make much better bread!