The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Massive Pre-ferment

SourFlour's picture
SourFlour

Massive Pre-ferment

Recently I have been playing around with using a very large percentage of starter in my dough, and then reducing the fermentation period substantially.  My thoughts behind it are that fermentation is used to develop flavor, but we already have that in the starter.

Has anyone experimented with this? What is the highest percentage of starter you have used in a dough? Some things to think about:

- Would this work better with a firmer starter? Gluten development happens during fermentation, and firmer starters would give you a head start.

- What feeding schedules would this work best with? You don't want the starter to have been fed too long ago, as you might have too much dough degredation; on the other hand, you need your starter to be active enough to proof your dough properly.

- Would this work better with a high hydration dough like ciabatta, or a lower hydration like baguettes?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Danny - Sour Flour
http://www.sourflour.org

JIP's picture
JIP

It would go alot faster if you would just use packaged yeast onstead of starter.

SourFlour's picture
SourFlour

Packaged yeast would make the entire process from start to finish much faster, but that is not what I am trying to do.  I am trying to have long fermentation time to develop as much flavor as possible.  I am just trying to figure out how much of that fermentation time can happen as a starter, and what possibilities exist for using a larger percentage of your dough from the starter.

Thanks,
Danny - Sour Flour
http://www.sourflour.org

mlgriego's picture
mlgriego

Anyone can use commercial yeast but the real fun is with wild yeast starters.  I have worked with starters I bought from sourdough international and all his formulas call for 1/2 C to 1 C for a single loaf of bread depending on hydration level.  I have made some really good breads with these though I am working on learning how to go beyond this by using formulas posted here on the Fresh Loaf.  I prefer to not use commercial yeast unless I need a loaf in a hurry but only rarely.

I still do a 12 to 18 hr fermentation either at room temperature or in the refrigerator depending on how long I need and how warm the house is (I dislike AC so I avoid using it).  I need to take the time to convert my recipes to real formulas using weights versus volume so that is why I have not given a percentage here.

Melody in Santa Fe

JIP's picture
JIP

Well se that's kind of the point I am trying to make with the OP.  I make sourdough because I like the flavors and the process.  The way to develop those flavors is time as we all know.  I am into artisanal bread all the way and I adjust large parts of days or even multiple days to tend to this sensitive process that takes TIME TIME TIME to do right.  The reason I say "just use commercial yeast" is not to say that I think that is the right way to go, quite the contrary.  Sourdough is "built" 1 step at a time and all of those steps take time to do right, if you don't have the time why bother.

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

I have done this with pizza dough using a firm starter.  I realize that pizza might not be exactly what you're getting at, but what I noticed (using about 1/3 of the dough as 50% hydration starter) is that the dough became quite chewy with very large holes.  I was fine with it since I like chewy pizza dough, but folks who are used to a lighter dough might not like it.  It was very flavorful but dense in the places between the holes, if you know what I mean.  It was not a very wet dough either.

About feeding: Firm starter is great for less feedings and more fridge.  Three times a week is fine.  When you want to use it take it out the night before, give it one feeding and it should be really healthy for the next day.  Actually, for my pizza dough I took the starter right out of the fridge and used it after it hadn't been fed for about three days.  This may have contributed to the dense dough.  I used to use firm starter exclusively, but now maintain a 100% hydration starter which I only take out and build a few days in advance of my baking.  I refresh it in tiny amouts (10g: 20g: 20g).

This probably does't help you much but if I had to do it all over, I would try more recently refreshed starter.  Let us know what you find.

Summer