The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Feeding ferment (Bertinet method) - how much to take out/replenish?

ajkessel's picture
ajkessel

Feeding ferment (Bertinet method) - how much to take out/replenish?

I'm doing the best I can to follow Richard Bertinet's sourdough method set out in "Crust." One thing I'm quite confused about is the volume of ferment. I bake about once per week. Bertinet suggests you should have 800g ferment; take out 400g for two loaves, and then refresh with an equal mass of water (i.e., 400g) and twice the mass of white bread flour (i.e., 800g). So after taking out the 400g and feeding the ferment, I have 1200g of mixture. If I kept this pattern up, the ferment would just keep getting larger and larger.

Is there an undocumented assumption that you will be throwing out 400g every week in addition to the 400g that you take out to bake with? Or is the mass supposed to magically decrease? Or are Bertinet's measurements just wrong in the book? I'm wondering if I'm missing something obvious here.

Thanks in advance for any tips/suggestions/advice!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Yes. The assumption is that you will discard most of your "ferment" and just save enough to feed back up to 800 g. I don't have "Crust" (the book), but I suspect you are misinterpreting Bertinet's instructions.

Look for his instructions for feeding the ferment. It sounds like he wants you to make it at 50% hydration. The missing piece is the amount of ferment to retain and feed. My best guess is that, by "equal mass of water," he means equal to the retained ferment. Thus, the feeding formula would be:

800 g = x g + y g + 2y g, where x = ferment, y = water, and x = y.

This calculates to 200 g ferment + 200 g water + 400 g flour = 800 g of refreshed ferment.

I hope this helps.

David

ajkessel's picture
ajkessel

Thanks, I'll try that! The directions are a little confusing -- I've written Bertinet separately directly based on the other forum comment. The directions say (page 52):

So, to the 400g of ferment you have kept back..., add 400g of water and 800g of white bread flour.

And then in the actual recipe of the bread, it calls for 400g of ferment. So if you follow that literally, I think you'll always end up with extra ferment.

Richard Bertinet's picture
Richard Bertinet

Hi - if you can email us at queries@bertinet.com Richard will gladly answer your query in person.

Best wishes

The team @ The Bertinet Kitchen, Bath, UK

spriolo's picture
spriolo

You're supposed to get rid of ferment?  I have a 55 Gallon drum of it in my living room! (( Just kidding I don't )).

Although, from what I can see your ferment must be HUGE.  1200g addition is bigger than most loaves of bread!  How many loaves and what shape does the formula call for, and how much are you throwing out?

A second thought.  I've notice that when I quadrupal my Barm I get the best taste and performance from it.  So if I have 200g held back and I add 300g of water and 300g of flour (I keep mine at 100% hydration) those wild yeasts jump for joy and go crazy (end wieght at 800 g).

It make really good sourdough bread when they are so agressive.

ajkessel's picture
ajkessel

 

I add the following to 400g of ferment:

 

  • 90g spelt flour
  • 700g strong white flour
  • 650g water
  • 20g salt

 

I end up with two decent size round loaves. For scale, this is a very large knife:

 

ajkessel's picture
ajkessel

 

I add the following to 400g of ferment:

 

  • 90g spelt flour
  • 700g strong white flour
  • 650g water
  • 20g salt

 

I end up with two decent size round loaves. For scale, this is a very large knife:

 

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Just catching up with this old post and TFL as well!  I too thought 400g of "ferment" and water with double that for flour seemed huge, but, having just read "Crust," I decided to give it a try.  I think I actually halved his amounts to 200/200/400.  But the resulting ferment was so thick and dry that I added some more water.  My usual weekly amounts are much smaller: 30 g ferment/60 g water/65 g flour (mixture of 35 g bread flour/20 g whole wheat/10 g rye). Anyway, I just pulled that 200/200/200 mixture out of the fridge about 12 days later and it still smells "good," fills the jar, still looks bubbly and fresh.  I too was concerned about keeping it in the fridge over a vacation time.

By the way, Bertinet said to refresh every 2-3  days under normal circumstance.  I think the large  quantity of 400, etc. is for longer storage, as there's ple of food for the microbes.  At least that's what I remember.  I returned the book to the library.  My usual sourdough bread is based on Hamelman's "mixed starter" recipe ("white" and rye starters); we love that bread!  

Hope this makes sense--Joy

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

That mixture I pulled out of the fridge was 200/200/400, with about 10 or so g water added.

Joy

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

I went on the 5-day  course at the Bertinet school a few months ago and came home with some of his starter.  It is the easiest starter to  maintain that I've ever dad. Far easier than a 100% hydration and can be left a lot longer between feedings due to the volume of flour.

Feeding every 2 -3 days is not needed if you keep it in the fridge. I bake about once a week and use the starter directly from the fridge - no need to leave it out or feed it first. The longest I have left it is 2 weeks between feeds and it is still strong and active and useable from the fridge even after that time.

I usually keep back 250g and feed it with 250g flour and 500g water. I discard anything over 250g. 

It then goes straight back into the fridge after feeding and is usable for baking again after about 3 days.

If I was going to leave it for 3 weeks (for example if I was on holiday) I'd bulk it up to 2kg (500/500/1000) and it would survive 3 weeks in the fridge as it would have so much flour to feed on.

Anything longer than that, I would either freeze it or dry it. I have tried both and they revive perfectly. Freezing is easier.

 

 

 

mcwhar's picture
mcwhar

What I don't understand is whether I once I add ferment to my new loaf whether I take anything out of that loaf to add to my ferment or does the ferment just take on it's own identity and fed as something completely seperate to bread making?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Lets assume you build a levain the same day you plan to feed then no. You've just used that portion that would have otherwise been disposed. The disposal process is simply portion control to prevent having too much starter to manage. At the same time assume feeding time came around and you didn't dispose or bake, instead you just fed the starter. In this case you'd feed double the norm and just have twice as much starter now. That's not such a big deal and actually you might want to start maintaining more starter....great that's fine. Next week you don the same ok, you didn't dispose or bake and now your starter is 4 times its original size - fantastic maybe you're planning to feed the neighbors too and ready to bake 8 or 16 huge boules. Do again the following week and you've got enough starter to really go to town and hopefully a huge oven too.

The main thing to note is to feed it and keep it alive and size control. You can decide as you go if you want to omit the disposal and build a larger starter and, on the same note you could for example toss 3/4 and just feed a smaller amount to a now reduced sized starter. Hopefully that all makes sense (I think I maybe confused myself now)

mcwhar's picture
mcwhar

And if you do take a chunk of dough from your bread do you mix it in with the rest of the existing ferment or do you stat again with that 200g and feed it a few days later?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

From the new dough as food for the starter. I think the most common practice is to build the levain and feed with fresh portion of flour and water but no reason why you coudn't use the bread dough as food after all its mostly food at this point with a little yeast already so if you feed with your bread dough then the yeasties are,probably going to be happy for long enough until next feeding time. Its not rocket science - I've left starters with feeding for a couple of weeks at which point fu,ky things start to happen such as more hooch on the starter and stronger acetone odors but they bounce back pretty quickly !

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

 I do bake once a week . in order to not throw too much dough away I feed 20 g starter with 20g water 20 g flour ( 10 g rye ,10g. White )  for a total of 60g ... every 24 h at room temp.

the day before I want to bake I make 2  refresh to make sure the dough is well active . To do so I feed the same way . Only 20 g. Is held back ( I keep itin a jar in fridge to do pancake ) with always adding 20g. Flour 20 g water . When I am ready to build the leaven , again I keep 20 g and let's say the recipe requests 100g leaven ,I then add 50g flour 50 g water for a total of 120g.  I take off 20g that becomes my starter .When it reaches it's maturity I continue feeding it adding 20g.flour /20g water for a total 60 g. And on and on .This way I waist very little .

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

what should I do to get more sour taste to my bread ? 

I keep a certain amount of my starter in the fridge so it develops more flavour but it ain't sufficient . The taste is too mild to our taste . 

Thanks for helping 

phaz's picture
phaz

More fermentation time at a lower temp should do it. Use less starter so it will ferment slowly and longer. Also, search for "more sour", I'm sure you will find lots of info.

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

I just relised I said that 250g the Bertinet starter gets fed with 250 flour and 500 water - should be 250 waster and 500 flour. It is starter:water:flour in ratio 1:1:2

You use a piece of your starter to add the flour and water to -  you do not add any of your dough mix to it. 

And yes, a longer fermenation time will create a more sour taste. Most recipes (both yeasted and SD suggest far more rising agent than is actually needed - this is primarily to speed things up). If you reduce the amount of yeast or starter required by a recipe and ferment or prove your dough for longer, you will almost always a better flavour and texture. It does require a good deal of patience and of confidence that the dough will eventually rise.

 

 

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

I wish there would be an easy pattern to feed the leaven . It seems everyone is using different ratio .There must be  a good reason To do so but honestly I am lost. I have few questions in my mind For which an answer to enlighten me would be very welcome. What difference would do a feeding with a ratio 1:.5:.5. 1:1:1 1:2:3 1::4:5 12:1:1 3:4:5 etc...i suppose the ones with more addition takes longer to rise .is it right ?  And the less seed starter you use the longer to become mature ?right ?  Regardless of the ratio used should I expect  to double up In my container ? Or more ( like 4 times its initial size )if I used for instance a ratio of 1:4:4 ?

thank you to answer me .I am so confuse .It seems more I read through the forum more I get lost !!,

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

There is no 'right' ratio. It all depends on the method you use and the recipes you follow. Most recipes, unless they say otherwise, are based on 100% hydration starter - so equal quantities of flour and water - and you would feed in that ratio 1:1:1

Bertinet's starter is based on 1:1:2 and his recipes take account of that. If I use my Bertinet starter for a recipe that is based on 100% hydration, I just use less starter and add more water to get the right ratio of flour to water, and that works fine - but most of the time I use Bertinet's recipes so it is not a problem,

I have found that the Bertinet starter is the easiest to maintain and most resilient that I have ever used - and it more than doubles, and does it very quickly. After feeding it goes straight back in the fridge and expands 2 - 3 times with in 24 - 48 hours.

All of my 100% hydration starters have died eventually, but the 1:1:2 seems to be bullet proof - I have left bulked it up to 2kg it in the fridge for almost 4 weeks, and it was still super active when I used it.

 

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Thanks so much philrusell95

it helps me so much to clarify all these ratios. When it reached the double after 24 or 48 h can you use this starter right from the fridge to do the recipe or it is better to bring it back to room temperature ? Considering that I only need 75 to 100 g for my bread could I use it right away as a leaven ( if the ratio of my recipe calls for the same ratio of my starter I.e. 1:1:2. ?) thanks a lot 

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

Yes, I use it straight from the fridge - always.

 

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Dear Phil you wrote

"Most recipes, unless they say otherwise, are based on 100% hydration starter - so equal quantities of flour and water - and you would feed in that ratio 1:1:1 "----

How do you do that ? Can you do in one step ? Or like for convertind the 1:1:1 in a 1:1:2 ratio you have to do it in few steps ? I it would be useful to me to get more precise info . eg : let's say I have to feed 20 g .of a 1:1:1 starter Ina 1:1:2 starter what would I add ? And vice versa if I have a 1:1:2 and wants to fit the request of a 1:1:1 recipe how do I proceed ? Sorry about all my questions but I want to know so badly --

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

I read that to maxiimized the sour taste in my bread I'd  need a long fermentation  whether at the first or final rise.  also that the more sour the  starter is more sour would be the bread. other thing if you use a smaller  amount of starter in the bread  , let's say 50 g of leaven for one kilo of flour instead of the 100g. called in  the recipe your dough will take longer to develop and the sourness flavour would be enhanced . So far am I understanding well ? Cooler  temperature will contribute for slow development as well.

Now since I expect  the dough to develop slowly do I still have to do the series of folds every 30 minutes after mixing as  they suggest or space it let's say  every Hour or so ...??? what kind of sign the dough would tell me it's ready for another série of fold ?

Please Help!

phaz's picture
phaz

Yes, longer fermentation = more sour. Stretch and folds - the longer the flours sit when mixed with water, the more the gluten develops, so less stretch and folds are needed. At last that's the general idea, and I'll let someone else chime in on that as I don't stretch and fold (I don't have the time to baby sit a lump of dough). Keep checking back, I'm sure you'll hear more on the subject.

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

I don't autolyse. I mix the starter, flour and water and 'knead' using the using the Bertinet slap and fold method for about 10 mins - then i add the salt and continue until I get the right consistency (The slap and fold method produces far, far better results than the 'kneading with the base of your hand' method). Then I either:

1) Shape the dough and put it in a proving basket and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours and then bake it

2) Do 2 stretch and folds at 1 hour intervals, and then shape and put in a proving basket in the fridge for 16 - 18 hours

Both produce equally good results so it really comes down to how I feel at the time.

 

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Thanks Phaz!  So you mean long autolyze with flour and water only ? Or with the leaven and salt included ?

Most of sourdough bread recipes calls for 4 to 5 hours of bulk fermentation ...at  ~25C  ....If I leave it longer wouldn't it go to far and overpass the dough developing process ? Should I consider to put it in the fridge to proof ? Or reduce the seed starter to a minimum of 5 g , for  a ratio of 1:4:5  in order to favour the dough  longer time to develop ? Thank you so much for the prompt reply !

 

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

So with the slap & fold method  and 2  stretch and fold within  an hour no further time for  bulk fermentation  like most of recipes requires (for a total of 4 to 5 hours ) ?  2 hours and Hop you go for the proofing final rise ? Really ? Or I misunderstand  you ! And You leave it in the fridge longer if you skip the stretch and fold step ,right ? These notions are new to me . I appreciate a lot .

phaz's picture
phaz

In keeping with my keep it simple policy, I feel if doesn't really matter how you developed gluten. Slap/fold, stretch/fold, leave it alone overnight, as long as you have well developed (not fully developed) gluten before final proof, it's good. So work it however you want, get a decent window pane (not a perfect window pane) before final proof, and away you go. This is another topic that can be debated to no end (more variables = more debate, and there are many variables) but in the end, it's really all about developing the gluten enough to trap and hold gas and allow expansion without breaking down. With this stuff it doesn't really matter how you get to where it is you're going, as long as you get there - enjoy the ride!

phaz's picture
phaz

Well, the idea behind autolyze isn't really about fermentation, it's more about saturating the flour with water. 2 proteins in flour combine in the presence of water to form our friend gluten. Ensuring the flour has absorbed a good amount of water helps to ensure good gluten formation (think no knead bread). Adding leaven to the mix really makes it a preferment. Many will debate the pros and cons of that - I won't. I would suggest a preferment (sponge/biga whatever you would like to call it - is all the same principle) to control sour. That's what I, and I'm sure many others, do. Now, I don't like super sour bread. I like a noticeable tang to hit the palette, but not to much. So I ferment something like 50% of total dough anywhere from 8 to 16 hrs (depending on temps) to get my level of sour, then finish it off like any other bread (I will even use regular yeast to make things fit my schedule). I'm not one to give exact numbers for anything (like how much of this, or how long for that) as that depends entirely on ones own tastes and schedules. Besides, the experimentation is half the fun, so have some fun and find your own sweet (or should I say sour) spot. Just remember, there's never a need to make things any more complicated than they already are - keep it simple - it's just bread!

Gill63's picture
Gill63

In Richard Bertinet's book Crust he doesn't use an autolyse, develops/works the dough (slap and fold), and does a set of stretch and folds an hour later. One hour after that he shapes and proofs - instructions being for 16-18hrs at 17-18C. When I was on his course earlier in the year, he got us to soak the starter in the water first to warm/soften it whilst weighing out flour and salt (added after about 10 mins of working the dough). I think we shaped the loaves about 2.30-3pm. They were initially left to prove at ambient temperature but had all been put into the fridge before we returned the next morning. 

At home, I tend to 'autolyse' flour, starter-straight from fridge-  with the water for about 30mins before developing the dough. I've found I get a better result by doing a second set of stretch and folds, both at 30-45 min intervals. I let the shaped loaves prove for 3-4 hours at room temperature before putting in the fridge overnight and baking directly from there. I've also slightly reduced the hydration as my loaves were flatter than I liked initially. Not sure if that was due to the microclimate in my kitchen, my poor dough handling, or the starter I came home from the course with being new. I guess most likely a combination, and am now starting to edge the water back up.

I guess part of the fun is working out the tweaks that work for you, as even the 'failures' tend Tom be tasty 

I'm also finding his stiff starter easy to use, and have built up and used directly after a 3 week break.

Gill

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Wow! Thank. to  each one of you ! I could'not have wished for better reply ! Your advices are very useful and precious☺️

yester day I tried a recipe calling for starter with a ratio of 85% so I took my 1:1:1 starter and added water and flour like this : from my 20g 20g:20g  I added to my initial 20g.    80g of flour +100g of water il took 13 hours to fully develop -- (Compare to the 1:1:1 that takes 3  hours ) the dough looks sluggish ...what did I do wrong ?was it because it wasn't not predictably rising ( as Tartine Bread suggests )?

So I am surprise when I read that you adjust your 1:1:2 starter to 1:1:1 and use it right away ,

I mix a 1:1:2 starter yesterday and it is much stiffer ,  borderline to enable  to absorb the flour .is this normal ?thanks again !

 

 

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

Yes, of course it will be much stiffer.

 

When making a 1:1:2 starter you do not need to feed it every day for a week like you do with higher hydration starters. Because there is so much flour in it, it has plenty to feed on and does not need to be refreshed everyday. It is much easier to make, easier to keep and easier to use then standard 100% hydration starters.

 

Here is the Bertinet method for making a starter. It is  pretty much foolproof - it works!

 

Stage 1
50 g spelt flour
150 g white bread flour
40 g honey
100 g water (at about 100 degrees; Bertinet calls this "blood temperature")

Mix ingredients into a compact dough; cover and let rest in a warm place for at least 36 hours.

Stage 2
Refreshing the starter

340 g starter
30 g spelt flour
280 g white bread flour
150 g water ("blood temperature")

Mix into a tight dough and let rest for 24 hours at warm room temperature (about 75 degrees).

Stage 3
Discard half of Stage 2 dough and refresh remaining 400 g with:

 

800 g white bread flour
400 g water ("blood temperature")

Mix to a thick dough. Let rest for 4 hours in a warm place, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. The starter is ready when it smells slightly fermented and is a little stringy. Each time you use the starter, feed it by adding 2 parts bread flour to 1 part water.

Sondelys's picture
Sondelys

Thank you so much Philrusell

Does it mean that I cannot convert my Active 1:1:1 starter in a 1:1:2 by doubling the flour ?

I need to start a brand new starter ?

I thought that if you can pass from 1:1:2  to 1:1:1: to fit the request of the recipe you could also go reverse !!

 Can I reduce the amount ?if  I have plenty of a 120 g starter ... ? This I do not waste as much 

philrusell95's picture
philrusell95

I guess it should work to convert a 1:1:1 to a 1:1:2, but you'd not do it just by doubling the flour on one feed.

if you had 200g starter that was 100g water and 100g flour, if you added 100g water and 200g flour, you would end up with 200g water and 300g flour. Which is not 1:2

So you would need to work out the right amounts to add to get the correct ratio. Or maybe do it in stages - but if you do that it is probably easier to just start from scratch - at least then you know exactly what is in it and htat the raios are exactly right.

You'll aso notice that Bertinet uses honey in the first stage of his starter. he told us on the course that this is what gives his starter a slight sweetness that is carried through no matter how many times you refresh it. I'n not sure about that - but he is the master, so who am I to disagree :) 

His starter does not get as sour as most though - so maybe what he says is true!