The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tartine book: how much is a tablespoon?

Jaydot's picture

Tartine book: how much is a tablespoon?

Could someone tell me how much a "tablespoon of starter" weighs in grams?

In the Tartine book, where Robertson describes the method voor making his basic bread, he starts off by emphasizing how important it is for bakers to use weights and not volumes. Then he goes on to say that to build the leaven, you use 200 gr flour and 200 gr water, and a tablespoon of starter :).
It's not that I think a gram more or less will make much difference, it's just that I honestly have no idea how much that is. A dollop the size of a walnut? A mandarin orange?
(It's a starter at about 100% hydration).



gary.turner's picture

A tablespoon is about 1/2 fl oz., or 15ml. In terms of medieval weights and measures, it's a mouthful.

I think the measure is rough because you're going to remove the same spoonful from the starter, leaving you with 400g.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have a spoon scale.  I stirred down my ripe starter to pop as many bubbles as I could and then added up to 1 tbs on the spoon of the scale, shaking the spoon level.  My ripe 100% rye starter comes out to 17g.

wally's picture

That is too cool, Mini!


OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Oh, I gotta get me one of those!  Mini, I'm with Wally on that one.  Just way too cool!


Chuck's picture

I get the same 0.1 gram resolution from my "pocket scale", which I use all the time to measure small ingredients like yeast and salt and even tiny ingredients like malted barley flour. I personally prefer its form factor because I could never figure out how to use a digital spoon without having an extra hand, whereas the pocket scale sits on the counter by itself just fine. Also, pocket scales seem to be a little bit cheaper and a little bit easier to come by.

(To find all kinds of things that didn't exist a few years ago, just enter that term "pocket scale" in Amazon or Google:-)

Unless you bake exclusively very small quantities like me, you'll probably wind up with two scales: one with large capacity but only 1 gram resolution for large ingredients, the other with 0.1 gram resolution but constrained capacity for small ingredients.

For a little more detail on the price and ordering of a particular model, see my earlier post.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is that I can measure, press the button on the left, empty the spoon, and take another spoonful, the new weight get added to the last weight and do this up to the desired amount.  That makes a little spoon with a big capacity.  And it was half price and it already has a removable bowl marked in teaspoons and tablespoons.  I separate the bowl from the handle when traveling with it.  

It also hangs nicely in a Christmas tree.  :)  I found mine in a local electric store.


Jaydot's picture

Yesterday, I forgot to add how much I admired this very nifty gadget! I do hope they are available here in Holland, I've put it on my wishlist :).

Yippee's picture

Hi, Mini:

Happy Holidays!  Isn't this thing neat?  I used it to measure the tiny amount of yeast used in my baguettes. Did your scale come with two spoons with different sizes?



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Maybe that's why it was on sale!  Lol  (Maybe I pitched the 2nd larger one with the packaging, oh no!)

I can't imagine not using it.  Love the tare function too!  Mine travels with my computer gear.  You know, the life and death stuff!  Lol   Today is a good day!  Fresh snow and sunshine!  Now to dig out my car….  I need some working music hung in the windows out front. 

Mini snOw

Jaydot's picture

Thank you both!

The "mouthful" gives a good idea, but the photo is even better!
Just 17 grams... I expected it to be more than that. Seems a very small amount to get 400 gr of leaven started. Can't wait to try it :).

Thanks Mini, for going to all that trouble.

davidg618's picture

Most formulae-ready levains are built with small amounts of starter, usually 20g or less.

David G

ehanner's picture

It matters more what the temperature of the starter is and the air temp that it sits in overnight, while it is fermenting. The amount of the inoculation of the starter could be off by double but if the temp is 65F, the activity will be so slow that it won't be as fermented as if you were off by half, under size but at 80F. Does that make sense? I use a healthy well rounded T and ferment for 12 hours at 76F. The health of your starter is the determining factor as to how much you use at what temp.


jyslouey's picture

I saw this in one of the more upmarket stores a while back but told myself  I didn't need another fancy kitchen gadget.   I've been relying on on my old metal measuring spoons even if I have no idea how much the ingredients weigh,  I have a digital scale but it doesn't give me measurements in half grams.  Maybe I should give this a second thought after all??