The Fresh Loaf

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Stiff vs. liquid sourdough- effect on final dough

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jsk's picture
jsk

Stiff vs. liquid sourdough- effect on final dough

I have been baking with sourdough starters for quite a while now. I am maintaining a stiff (5o% hydration) white starter, but converting it to liquid in some cases, depending of the recipe. I have noticed that when I use a stiff starter, the dough rises less during bulk fermentation and proofs more slowly once shaped, than using a liquid starter. Does this happen to you to? Do you think it depends on the recipe itself or does the stiff form effects the dough in this way by its nature?


I am very instrested it this subject and would love your opinion. Good day!

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

Starter thickness effects the action of protease enzymes, more water will lead to more breakdown of the protein in the starter leading to a potentially more extensible dough but at the expense of sturdiness. Amylase in a thicker starter is less active and therefore there will be less free sugars relieved from the starches leading to a slower rise. There are various theories on which will give you a more sour character, in my experience with my starter and lower hydration I can get a much heavier sour going. This is all from memory so hopefully somebody can corroborate or I'll check and get back to you.

ananda's picture
ananda

Rockfish42, I definitely agree with the first part of your post.


I think issues of sourness are more complex than a short answer like this can do justice to.


Best wishes


Andy

diverpro94's picture
diverpro94

Not much, because you still have the same hydration in the end. Although Peter Reinhart has said that stiff starters are known to have more sourness, but professionals mainly do it because it is less labor intensive when doing large batches. A stiff starter is just basically a levin, but when you do a stiff starter you are basically cutting out the levin fermentation time (which can become handy if you don't have much time). It all depends on the sourdough recipe.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi diverpro94,


Stiff cultures are definitely easier to manage in commercial bakeries; lifting and tipping huge containers of liquid starters can be a pain.


However, choice of starter will depend on a number of factors; as you allude to.


I'm confused by what you mean in the last part of your reply.


As far as I'm concerned, a stiff levain will work more slowly than a liquid one.   In a commercial bakery the leaven will be in constant use andin large amounts too, so it is likely to be very active.   A bakery tends to be a nice warm environment too.


We used a stiff leaven to ensure it did not prove too quicky.   We did make Pain de Campagne in 3 batches over every 24 hour period, requiring 150kg of leaven  for each batch.   A liquid culture would have been too rapid a fermentation.


Best wishes


Andy 

jsk's picture
jsk

I have now understand better the role of the hydration of the starter in the final dough.


Good day!


Jonathan.