The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dry Starters

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Dry Starters

Several recent threads have me curious, so I have been experimenting with converting a couple 100% hydration starters to "dry" starters of 50%. I took 20 grams of 100% starter, then added 10 grams of water and 20 grams of rye/whole wheat flours. This looked "dry" in comparison to what I had been doing, but it took off and tripled into a "dry sponge" in about 6 hours, suggesting to me it was active and going good. Again, result was a dry "sponge"....not a wet, ripe starter.

So I took 10 grams of that, added another 10 grams of water and 20 grams of rye/whole wheat four and got a solid glob of barely moistened flour. After 24 hours, that has a sour odor and taste, but as for expansion or going ripe, none of that. Looks the same after 24 hours as it did when I started it.

Too dry or too dry, too soon? Or????


Yesterday, I attempted to build up a quantity of starter for a loaf of whole wheat by taking 10 grams of this "dry" starter, added 25 grams of water and 40 grams of whole wheat flour (1:3:5), to get 75 grams of starter. Let that sit for 12 hours (no change in size or texture), then mixed with more water, flour and salt. Did a few stretch and folds at 1 hour intervals for 4 hours. It looked like it was starting to expand and soften....signs of life, but since then, it has been in the cooler contemplating life. Plan is to pull it out after 20 hours, shape and bake.

Am I on the right path with this dry starter business or do I need to veer off in another direction?

Cabuya's picture

You started with a 100% starter, took 20g=10g water and 10g flour and added 10g water and 20g flour. This gave you 20g water divided by 30g flour. This is a 67% starter, not a 50%. This starter should have and did come to full expansion in 6 hrs. Then you took 10g of that, which is 4g of water and 6g of flour. after adding 10g water and 20g flour you ended up with 14g water and 26g flour = 58.8% hydration.


Taking 10g of that you start wifh 3.5g water and 6.5g of flour. after adding 25g water and 40g flour. you end up with 28.5g water and 46.5g flour = 61.3% hydration.This is still dry but more viable. When you use a dry starter you may have to increase the dough hydration a bit to get good results.

I hope this helps, Franz