The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

End result difference in the bread with variable hydration starters.. ??

Mike E's picture
Mike E

End result difference in the bread with variable hydration starters.. ??

So I've been following this Reinhart recipe for a while now tying to nail down some basics, and it got me thinking about some things this morning. I did a search in general on the web and again on this site, but couldn't find quite the thing I was asking.. 

In this recipe, he's got us whipping up an ammount of 125% sourdough starter, keeping it at room temp for 4-6 hours and then retarding it overnight. The next day, we turn that into a "firm starter" by incorporating pretty much only flour.. leaving at room temp for 4-6 hours or so and the retarding overnight. The next day (the third, now..) we build the final dough with this grown up starter and proof it for a while, shape and final proof, and then retard again overnight.. baking the thing the next day, four days total. If you already have a 125% starter, I supose you could knock a day off this schedule, which I'm considering doing.

Anyway, my question is, what's the basic idea behind the different starters? I can't seem to find a good reference for what happens *differently* in a more liquid starter than what happens in a firmer starter. Basically, does a liquid starter favor certain characteristics, while a firmer starter favors other characteristics? If so, which is which, so I can wrap my head around that to use to my advantage. If a book reference could get me to the answers I need, I'm happy to do the reading/legwork.. thanks!

GlendaLynne's picture

A quote from "Bread Baking - An Artisan's Perspective" by Daniel T DiMuzio:

(liquid levain) produces more acidic overtones than poolish, of course, but its liquid consistency makes for less heterofermentative bacteria than in firm levain, so its flavour is less sour than that associated with firm levain.  More liquid also means more yeast activity, so sourdough breads made with liquid levain can achieve more lightness than breads made only with firm levain.

This book is written for bread baking apprentices, and I am finding it extremely helpful in my understanding of the bread making process.  I thoroughly recommend it for anyone interested in this.  If you are after recipes/formulae this is not for you.

Congratulations Daniel (I'm sure that I have seen you on this site) on an excellent book.