The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

whole wheat starter question

T4tigger's picture
T4tigger

whole wheat starter question

I recently converted part of my white flour starter to whole wheat, and it seemed to be doing just fine. I'm trying to increase it to make JMonkey's whole wheat bread, which requires a lot of starter. I had 200 g. of starter, so I fed it 200 g. of water and 400 g of wheat flour hoping to double the bulk. It made a nice firm dough ball, so I figured the proportions were right. After 12 hours it isn't doing much of anything at all. My questions are: 1) do I add a bit more water to see if that perks it up? 2) will it take longer for the starter to increase in bulk because I fed it so much and I just need to learn patience? 3) did I try to increase it too much and hurt it?

Just when I think I have things figured out.......... :-(

Colleen

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

I would add some more water, like 50 g.

I have a pure whole wheat starter, whole wheat from the beginning and it is very volatile, it blows the lids off containers almost everyday. What type of whole wheat are you using? I have both soft and hard WW, and the hard is the best for SD as the soft just sits around waiting 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

When your starter is that firm, it won't rise much. Instead, it sort of softens and, if you cut inside, it'll be spongy and fragrant when ripe. Laurel from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book describes it as looking like brown cottage cheese, which is a good description.

BTW, if you make the bread, make sure to check out the comments below. These days, I make it much wetter than I used to -- usually 75-80% hydration -- and I've had a better texture. Also, I've found I can elminate the second bulk rise if I do the final proof at about 85 degrees F. That temperature really boosts the rise and brings out the flavor.

T4tigger's picture
T4tigger

Thanks Pumpkinpapa and JMonkey.   I had been using our local store brand whole wheat flour which, according to the product lable, says it has 4g of protien per 30g serving, the same as the lable for King Arthur.   Just for grins, I bought some King Arthur whole wheat flour and have been using it lately.  It feels more finely ground, but I haven't noticed too much of a difference in results.

I did start keeping the starter at a 70% hydration instead of 50%, so we'll see how that works.

JMonkey, just to clarify, are you using a 70% hydration starter in your bread recipe or a 50% starter and just adding more water to the recipe to make the entire recipe 75% hydration?

Also, what does that do to the kneading?   Do you fold instead of knead, and if so, how often?

I've made your bread several times with a white starter and it turned out well.  Hopefully I can get a decent batch using the wheat starter! 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

JMonkey, just to clarify, are you using a 70% hydration starter in your bread recipe or a 50% starter and just adding more water to the recipe to make the entire recipe 75% hydration?

Depending on my mood and what I've got on hand, I'm using both stiff and wet starters. When I use a stiff starter, these days I keep it at about 55-60% hydration. I've starting grinding my own flour since I wrote that post, and I find that I have to use a lot more water with the freshly ground flour than I did with KAF whole wheat to get the same consistency.

As far as the hydration of the loaf, no matter what the hydration of the starter, I aim for a final hydration of 75-80%. So if I'm using a stiff starter, I add more water. With a wet starter, I add less. If you use baker's math and weigh your ingredients, it's easier to do. I actually made a spreadsheet to do it for me because I got tired of looking for scratch paper. :-)


Also, what does that do to the kneading? Do you fold instead of knead, and if so, how often?

It doesn't affect the kneading all that much. I've taken to soaking the rest of the flour and water (with maybe 1/2 the salt) overnight so that most of the kneading is done for me when I make the bread. Then, I just tear it all into chunks and knead for about 5-10 minutes, after I add whatever else I might be putting in (grains, butter, sweeteners, etc.)

Hope that helps! Good luck with your loaf!