The Fresh Loaf

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Nury's Rustic Light Rye math/starter question

Finn's picture

Nury's Rustic Light Rye math/starter question


Question regarding this recipe:

Please excuse my ignorance. However, i don't know what 45 grams of STIFF starter is. I have a scale and weigh my ingredients so the 45 grams is not an issue, it's the STIFF starter part. My current starter I am not weighing the ingredients, I am using volume. My starter is 1 cup of starter refereshed with 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup AP & 1/2 cup organic Red Fife. My proportion is 1 part old starter, 1 part flour, 1/2 part water. So I guess my question is what the hydration level of my starter, and is it a STIFF starter? If i'd like to replicate the recipe what should i add to my 1 cup of starter to make a STIFF starter?

I have a masters degree but it is definitely not in math... Hahaha

Any help would be appreciated.


polo's picture

Your starter is at about 100% hydration. If you have a scale you should use it instead of volume measures to feed your starter (makes it easier to keep track). I would think that a "stiff" starter would be a starter at 70% hydration. If you start feeding your starter 100 grams of flour and 70 grams of water you will get it to 70%. 

I would do a few feedings at this ratio to make sure you achieve the 70% hydration.


occidental's picture

First off, you need a scale.  1 part could be anything if you measure by volume instead of weight.  If you are measuring by weight than 1 'part' flour to 1/2 'part' water is a 50% hydration which is very stiff and right along the lines of the levain for nury's rye.  The stiff levain I keep vary's between 50 and 75% hydration by weight.  If you don't have a scale a couple options would be to look up a converter, or go by feel.  If you go by feel a stiff starter can generally be kneaded in your hands, a liquid starter can be stirred by a spoon...I know that's a lot of variance, that is why it is easier to get a scale.  Good luck!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Thick starters are firm starters and they take a few days to develop.  So... take a few globs of your wet ripe starter and add some flour (no water) to it until it is like a stiff dough.  It should not have any flour spots and be well mixed, easier to do with your fingers.  Then roll it into a ball and cover it to ripen in a cozy spot. 

When ripe, anywhere from one day to two days later, it will be swollen and the dough will have cracked open or lost its round shape and smell like a ripe starter.  When torn open the starter will look like a natural sponge with lots of gas pockets inside.  Then take some  starter from the middle (anywhere from a teaspoon 5g to a tablespoon 15g) add about 1/8 c (30g) water and add 60g flour to make a stiff starter at 50% hydration.  Let it ripen and at its peak expansion, add to the recipe. If you think you need to go for another feeding (the peaking takes too long) by all means do so.


If you have rye, go with feeding rye in the starter.  Don't forget to show us your loaves, they probably won't win a beauty contest (warning) that is half the fun of this recipe!  And get the crust good and roasty!  The beauty in this bread is in the Rustical look.

Candango's picture

Most "stiff" starters are in the 50% hydration range, like a stiff but maleable dough, as Occidental mentioned.  Since you already have a scale and your refreshed starter (of unknown hydration), you can easily figure it out.  Occidental noted that your starter is about 100% hydration.  Here's why:

A.  Your 1/2 c (4 liquid oz) of water weighs about 112 gr.

B.  One c of AP flour weighs about 125 gr, so your 1/2 c should be about 63 gr.

C.  I don't have specific info on the weight of Red Fife, but it should come in close to the AP flour weight, give or take a few grams.  So let us say that your 1/2 c of Red Fife weighs about 65 gr at the outside.

D.  This brings your total flour weight to 128 gr, and the water weight to 112 gr.  This would bring your hydration level to about 88%, give or take a few percentage points depending on the exact weights of the flour and water.  For ease of estimating, let's go with 90%.

E.  Since you have just refreshed your starter at the rate of 1 c flour, 1/2 c water and 1 c starter, you now have a total weight of 240 gr plus the one cup of old starter, for a grand total weight of 480 gr at ca 90% hydration.

F.  This works out to about 252 gr of flour to about 228 gr of water.

Take about 100 gr of this starter to build your new "stiff" starter.  At the current 90% hydration, this will be about 47 gr water and 53 gr flour.  Add 50 gr of water and 100 gr of flour.  This will give you 250 gr total starter, of which 97 is water and 153 is flour, about 63% total hydration.  Mix it. knead it if you can, and set it  in a comfortable place at room temp for a few hours to double.  When it does, add another 100 gr flour and 50 gr water.  This will give you a new total  400 gr of stiff starter at 58% hydration.  You could repeat the process one more time or bake with this starter and keep feeding the remainder at 2 parts flour to one part water (by weight) to maintain your new stiff starter.  By the way, the stiff starters keep very well in the fridge and need feedings only once a week or so.



Finn's picture

Here is my journey with Nury's Rustic Light Rye

I want to thank you all very much for your comments, direction, and knowledge. My question was understood and fully answered. What can be surmised is that the hydration level of a particular dough can be derived from the equation water divided by flour multiplied by 100.

I am now weighing my starter ingredients. I started this particular starter months ago, before I purchased a scale, and have been maintaining it with volume measurements up till now. I weighed my volume measurements a few times to come up with an average weight of each ingredient. I have been feeding it 125 grams of water, 80 grams of Dover Vienna bread flour, and 80 grams of Organic Stone Ground Red Fife. Which gives me a hydration level of 78%, definitely not a stiff starter. The flavour however is great. It is very acidic with relatively short rise times.

Dover Vienna


Organic Stone Ground Red Fife

So, what I did for this recipe is simply used my starter as is at 78% hydration. I used all of the prepared levain as many have done. I am very happy with the results and will do the same next time. My levain acted exactly as described by leader. I prepared it at 9:00pm and left in covered on my counter till 8:00am the next morning, when it nicely doubled and smooth. I prepared the dough at 8:00am and followed the recipe exactly, folding and stretching at one hour increments twice, then let sit on my counter till doubled, mine took 5 hours to completely double and went into the fridge at 3:00pm. The rest of the recipe I followed except I baked mine  for 32 minutes plus 3 more minutes with oven off and door open, and of course the usual steam and misting.

I used Rogers Dark Rye Flour and not a light or medium rye. I chose Rogers partly because it is Canadian and I like using local ingredients, like the Dover and Red Fife flours. However, I am very surprised at how little the rye flavour comes through in this bread. I believe it is partly do to two things. First is my use of a Red Fife starter, which really provides a strong nutty/wheat flavour which predominates this bread for me. Secondly is the tangy acidic nature of this starter (and of course the long refrigeration). Now I am not complaining in the least, I LOVE the flavour of this bread. The nutty/wheat flavour with just a hint of rye is amazing!

Here are a few images:

Great rustic crust (my bread did not split)


Nice crunchy crust that is not too thick


Beautiful open and moist crumb

I am now on the Rustic Light Rye bandwagon. Thanks again for the replies.





occidental's picture

Looks just like Nury's Rye should look like in my opinion.  It's a great loaf...welcome to the bandwagon!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The way they should be!   :)