The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Specific Desem Starter Questions

Feelin Crumby's picture
Feelin Crumby

Specific Desem Starter Questions

I'm on day 7 from the Laurel's Kitchen method of Desem starter, and starting to feel a mild panic that I'm not fully understanding how to carry on. Laurel does not give information for caring for the mature starter in weights, which is what I'm more accustomed to. The instructions seem somewhat vague . . . unspecific in places. If anyone out there is familiar with her process specifically, and can help me with these 3 things (to follow), I would be most grateful.

#1 - After the first week, I have the option of keeping the portion which is my "teenage" starter as is - that is, feeding it on a twice-a-week schedule. With the portion of starter I have, how do I determine the flour to water ratio for the feeding?

#2 - The other option is to increase the leavening power by taking my "teenage" portion and do the first-week feeding schedule over again. What would the flour to water ratio be here? Is it determined by the weight of my week-old starter? And if so, how do I do that?

and #3 - Laurel's recipe tells you how to bake a 2-loaf batch. Can someone tell me how to increase my Desem starter, without losing it's already great properties, to bake whatever-size batch I want . . . whether it's 60 loaves, or 5? How long in advance do I need to start the method of increasing it's volume, and, the starter-to-flour-to-water ratio. I know how to use the Baker's % to expand the recipe, I just don't know how to expand the starter to get to the point of larger bakes.

I know this is a lot to ask, but the book seems to confuse me more than it's helping me at this stage. If someone can simplify this, it would be wonderful!


mateo's picture

1.For the desem I work in 1/3rds. The amount of water is dependent on the grain. I adjust accordingly. for a 1lb mass of week old starter add 1 lb water and 2 lbs flour. The desem starter is traditionally a stiff one wrapped in the towel and refrigerated. Just refresh it each week if you do not bake with it. The water content can vary too and can always be adjusted in the final dough.


2. answered in #1


3. I do 15 loaf batch beginning with 3# starter, 2# water, 4 # flour= 9lbs

let sit  12-14 hrs.59-60 f

Add 6# water, 12# flour and 4-5oz salt

Let sit at 60F 4 hrs

Scale to 1lb 13 oz and shape. Let rest 15 min.

shape again using water always never flour.

Proof  with wet covered cloth at 100f and 100% humidity for 1 1/2 hrs. (Spray loaves to keep moist if needed)


Bake at 450 f. Steam immediately and again at 25 min.  Reduce geat to 300f bake 25 min. more. Vent at 40 min. if possible.