The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Proofing the starter

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frogdog's picture
frogdog

Proofing the starter

I am new to this...But trying.  I just got my starter going with granules purchased online.  The recipe that came with the granules is what is very confusing - when comparing it to other recipes I have read.  After the starter is active you proof the starter with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to set overnight to ferment.  Then you mix 1 cup of that starter to 3 cups flour and 2 1/2 cups water to set out again overnight.   Does that sound right or am I reading it wrong?


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Where did you buy the starter? 


Are the directions you wrote about a recipe for making bread?  It sounds as if you are supposed to make a preferment, but the instruction to proof the starter is odd.

frogdog's picture
frogdog

Like I said, I am new to this and probably using the wrong words.  I will try again.  My starter is ready to proof the sponge - I think.   In any event I decided to give it a try.  I added the one cup water and one cup flour to the approx. 2 cups of starter.  It now says to let ferment overnight.  The recipe is from Carls Friends (and that is where I obtained the starter granules).   The bread recipe is from the same source.  This is where it reads to add 1 cup of this starter to the 3 cups flour and 2 1/2 cup water and set out overnight.  Then add the remaining items from the recipe.  The recipe also calls for 1/2 cup sugar and that sounds a bit much.


Should I just look for another easy firts time recipe?   Any suggestions?

AOJ's picture
AOJ

I started with the "Friends of Carl" starter. It will do a good job for you. After trying several formulas, I had better luck making "Norwich sourdough". Scale it back to make one loaf at a time, and a more manageable amount of dough. (http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/08/my-new-favorite-sourdough/)   Practice making one loaf, over and over; it will get better. Then you move on to try other formulas!  


Rather than constant feeding/discarding, I keep my starter in the 'fridge. A day or two before I mix my dough, I weigh out about 40 grams from the starter. Feed it up (with equal weight of flour and water) to get the amount your formula calls for.

bakinbuff's picture
bakinbuff

Assuming your sponge (one cup of flour and one cup of water added to your starter and covered overnight) is bubbly and expands, you shouldn't need another "proof" after that.  My basic sourdough recipe is


1 cup of proofed sponge


3 cups of flour of your choice


1/4 cup of warm water (adjust according to whether your sponge is wetter or dryer, you might need more water or might not need any)


and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt, according to preference. 


 


I mix all these up, hand knead for 10 minutes, and place in oiled glass bowl, covered with clingfilm, and leave to ferment for around 6 hours in a warm place.  Then I shape the loaf, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, I take it out while the oven warms up and then bake under a hot roasting pan (on a granite stone) for 20 minutes at 240C, then uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes at 190C.  It is a good idea to get the hang of a basic recipe (flour, water, salt) before adding in other ingredients like sugar, etc.  The starter shouldn't NEED sugar (and a quarter cup sounds like a lot!) because of course the flour is plenty of food for the yeast.  Just make sure your starter is ready to raise a loaf before baking with it (it should be bubbly, smell pleasantly yeasty, and expand when fed with flour and kept in a warm place).  Hope this is helpful, I'm no expert but I am getting the hang of yummy sourdough loaves!  Below is a pic of a poppyseed loaf (half home ground whole wheat flour, half strong white flour, and poppy seeds...)


frogdog's picture
frogdog

Bakinbuff, that sounds and looks like just the recipe I have been looking for.  What a beautiful loaf.  I will try it today.  Just one question:  what do you mean by "bake under a hot roasting pan".  And I do not have a bread tile yet.  So will have to use just a heavy baking pan I guess.

AOJ's picture
AOJ

Check out this thread, or search "Susan's Magic Bowl". Baking under the roasting pan the first 1/2 to 1/3 of the total bake time, will give you great oven-spring and a good crust.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15922/steaming

bakinbuff's picture
bakinbuff

I have a granite stone tile I leave in the oven all the time, and I put the loaf on parchment paper onto the stone, and cover it with a roasting tin that has been preheated with the oven.  I have used glass bowls, but I figure they are likely to break and difficult to lift up and down on the stone as they have no handle.  Covering the loaf gives a fantastic crunchy crust that I personally found impossible to achieve with steam and no cover...  Hope you get your starter working for you!

frogdog's picture
frogdog

Your recipe sounds great too.   Need to buy some rye flour before I try that though