The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I'm slower than my starter.

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Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

I'm slower than my starter.

I'm dazed and confused, but moving ahead with home baked breads. I've had good luck with the buttermilk cluster (by my 3rd try I had great buns). Also I've found the no-knead bread easyish? to do and have really enjoyed the results and praise from friends. Now I've decided I NEED a sourdough starter. I picked up a flip waffle iron and also love sourdough bread, so I think raising a starter is a no brainer. Hope it's easier to look after than my kids were. I started it today and gave it a nice little home over the fridge. My question is this... if I grow a successful pet and want to make bread I need to PROOF? the starter. Does this mean I add flour and water in equal volumes to my active starter until I can take a cup of that mix? Then add another cup of warm water and a cup of flour to that. I then PROOF that mix to double volume and incorperate that into the rest of my ingredients to make a loaf of bread. Does that sound right or am I totally lost? I've read lot's here, but I'm not sure I totally understand what I'm doing. Thanks for any advice. Dave

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Dave,


"Proofing" is a term used to describe fermenting the bread dough after it has undergone the bulk fermentation but before it is placed in the oven.  The term is also used when one is checking the viability of dry active yeast.


You don't "proof" your sourdough culture; you refresh it with flour and water after you have discarded a portion of the culture.  This has to be done every day until you have created a mature and active culture (which takes a minimum of seven to 10 days, or longer).  


Many sourdough recipes call for building a levain 12 to 16 hours before you plan to bake, using a portion of your SD culture.  The levain is left in a covered bowl at around 70F then used according to the recipe.  


There's tons of info on sourdough here, and TFL's Handbook (see tab at top of page) provides some good information on terminology.


Did you have a particular sourdough recipe in mind?

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Once the sourdough starter is mature enough to leaven and flavor your dough, you can use the discard.  If there are recipes you typically use and you know how much starter you will need, you can maintain your starter to plan for a particular amount of discard.  The discard goes in your bread or waffles, you feed the remainder, and put it back in the fridge until it needs to be fed again. 


For example, I keep 150 grams of starter.  I have a recipe I bake weekly that takes 100 grams.  I remove the starter from the fridge, let it become active and bubbly, then take out the 100 grams for my bread.  I feed the remaining 50 grams with 50 grams of flour and 50 ml of water (100% hydration) and pop it back in the fridge until next time.  No waste, no fuss.


Lest you be impressed, I just learned all this in the past few weeks after getting my own starter going.  There is a bit of a learning curve and while there is a wealth of info here, you have to do a bit of hunting to put it all together. 


You can also maintain a smaller amount of starter and "build" it to the amount you need in a recipe over the course of a one or more twice daily feeds while it sits on your countertop.  It just takes a little planning ahead. 

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

This sounds like how I want to use my starter after it is up and running. I was just a little unclear on using starter or throwing it out. Using as much as I can for bread, waffles and pancakes is what appeals to me. Thanks.

Ford's picture
Ford

May I recommend the following web site for information on a sourdough culture.  Mike Avery's web site is very good.


http://www.sourdoughhome.com/starterprimer.html


I use a starter that is more hydrated than his, but use what appeals to you.  Mike says.  "The essence of baking is patience.  The essence of sourdough baking is patience squared."  He is so right.


Also buy yourself a digital scale and start weighing your ingredients.  Measuring flour by volume is iffy.


Ford

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

That site is wonderful and Mike explains things clearly so that even a pea brain like me can understand!

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Thirded! = )


I get a kick out of the site because there's so many little hidden 'easter eggs' you find by clicking the various links throughout the main pages. You can easily kill 3 or 4 hours browsing around and absorbing some very honest wisdom for the home baker.


- Keith

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

Wow. Thanks for the link. This is going to help. Nice to see info on how to use the starter. That's the part I was most concerned about. Thanks again. I'm off to feed my starter. Dave

Nomadcruiser53's picture
Nomadcruiser53

I see now if I'd just used the "links", on the home page here, I would have got that on my own. Good thing I'm retiring soon because between fishing, food and reading I'll never have time to work.