The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter from Tartine Bread Book

Eli_in_Glendale's picture

Starter from Tartine Bread Book

Hi all, newbie here.  I am about 5 days into getting my starter going using the technique from "Tartine Bread." What an awesome book by the way.  I've got bubbles with each feeding, and a mildly foul aroma, but not much rise/fall as he describes.  Should I really be feeding it 100 grams of both water and 50/50 flour mix?  I feel like it's a waste, and not much seems to be changing from one feeding to the next.  I am feeding daily now.  Anybody else followed this technique with much success?  Thanks a million.

yy's picture

Hi Eli

my Tartine starter is about two and a half weeks old, and it's been doing pretty well. During the first two days, I used pineapple juice instead of water (the method published in newer edition of Peter Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice), so I didn't have a foul-smelling stage. In the first few days after getting bubbles, the starter had trouble doubling, but as I went on, it got stronger and began to rise more. It's now doubling within 6 hours of each refreshment.

I agree that 100g is a lot of flour to be using each time. I've cut it down to 50g. I discard all but maybe a tablespoon or two of the starter, add 50g water to dissolve what's left in the jar, and then stir in 50g of the flour mixture. It seems to be doing just fine this way. Now that it's more established, I might start putting it in the fridge so that I can feed it less frequently. Of course, I'll be looking on TFL for advice on how to do that without killing the starter :-) Good luck!

Eli_in_Glendale's picture

OK so I will see, maybe mine will develop in the same way, just with a little more drama (and time) because I only used water and not pineapple juice.  I'll also reduce to 100g total per day, and see how it goes.  Thanks again!

silkenpaw's picture

... and feed it every 3 days or so, when I make bread. It's 100% hydration and 150 g total weight. I take out 100 g for my bread, replace it with 50 g each of flour and water. Then I let it double at room temperature (2-3h in my warm Florida kitchen, 78-80ºF) and put in the fridge, where it usually rises some more. It's been doing fine for several months on this regimen, is not excessively sour and takes about 2 hours to raise a kg of dough.

robadar's picture

Hi Eli,

I have started many starters and acquired and purchased a number over the years.  I believe there is more misinformation put out about sourdough starters than just about any other part of baking I can think of.  If you think Tartine wastes a lot of starter, take a look at Nancy Silverton's "Bread from La Brea Bakery."  Unbelieveable!  Someone once said, "She must be in the wholesale wheat business."  And the grape routine, oh my!  (Nevertrheless, she bakes fantastic bread.) Then there are starters that use milk, yeast, yogurt, honey, cumin, and the list goes on and on.  Fact is most sourdough microbiologist experts say that it is the wheat itself that carries the germination spores for starting a starter.   However, you don't always get a start.  A mix of a few different flours including whlole wheat and rye will probably increase your chances of getting an initial "take."  Your initial flour must carry the enough spore microorganisms.  Once established, any flour will keep the culture going.

As for feeding, I always discard half the old starter and refresh with new flour and water.  You can keep a starter culture going with just a few tablespoons in a tightly clossed container in your frig, or on the counter if you feed it often enough.  As "yy" said in his post, I find my starter, well established, will peak in about six hours. 

Starting a starter is interesting.  The culture may go through several apparent transmutations depending upon what little beasties are in there working. Ultimately, the one that persists  will be  your soudough culture. 

As for Tartine, I have tried just about every recipe in every popular book over the last 15 years.  I just wish I had Tartine first.  It is right on the button.  Do exactly what he says, and you will likely turn out good bread.  A little fine tuning may be needed for your own particular needs and/or environment (which I am still working on for myself),  but his method is superb.

Good luck!

winestem's picture

I was there, too, and I'm only a couple of months ahead of you! I now have a starter that is wonderful, a little sour smelling, but nothing foul at all. My suspicion is that you've got too much bacterial contamination present. I would start over again rather than trying to kill off the bacteria. This happened to me, too, and the second time around I mixed a messy pancake-thickness of an organic flour and water together, then dropped a few unwashed, organic grapes into the "glop" and then rubbed those around with my hands for a while. Left the grapes in for a day, removed them, and within another day or two I had my yeast growing. Good luck!

yy's picture

I'm not sure it's necessary to discard your starter. From what I understand, the foul-smelling stage is to be expected, and it's only temporary. The reference books I used seem to imply that something like pineapple juice jump-starts the process by bypassing the colonization of unwanted bacteria, but that ultimately your starter should overcome this stage to foster the desired species.

mariajed's picture

Hi, I am really determined to bake the bread, but have no luck in making Starter to pick up. My home in San Francisco is pretty cold with avarage 63-64 degree during the winter.

In his book Chad said: keep the Starter in the cool/dark location in the ktchen. How cold kitchen can be?

Thanks a lot