The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

chicha-inspired sourdough starter

cranbo's picture
cranbo

chicha-inspired sourdough starter

Sometimes two + two = five, and you roll with it.


Reading a thread earlier today got me looking at the book "Bread Builders", including a section about about L. sanfranciscensis and dental plaque. Very weird. This got me thinking about some travel show I saw (Bourdain? Zimmern?) I saw a while back, where the host drank chicha somewhere in South America.


Sure, starters get going in all kinds of ways: wholegrain flours, whole fruit, pineapple juice. Now I've been reading with interest about fruit waters lately. 


This got me thinking: what would the outcome be of a chicha-inspired starter?


So goes my experiment:



  • 25g whole wheat flour

  • 25g rye flour

  • 25g spring water


Mix all ingredients until it's a firm dough (50% hydration seemed right). 


Tear off small quail egg sized pieces of starter. Chew each piece for 30-60 seconds...yep. Really was not unpleasant, kinda gummy, but becoming slightly sweeter as I chewed. Place each chewed piece in a small container. 


I let it rest for 2 hours, then added 25g more water and mix to make a 100% starter. Seems to me that 100% hydration starters are more conducive to certain bacterial growth, so this should be interesting. 


Gross? Yes. Interesting? Absolutely.


Day 1: It's been probably 12 hours or so. Not much activity yet. I wonder how different this will be from my usual starter, which was built about 2 years ago using the Silverton organic grape method.


Will the chewing have an effect? As a control, I'm going to do one using the same feeding, the same schedule, but without the chewing. We'll see what happens. 


 

Comments

scottsourdough's picture
scottsourdough

Keep us posted! Might also be worth testing this out on a (normal) established starter. For example, chewing a piece of mature sourdough culture, then refreshing that and seeing if the microbial action changes at all.


And I know I saw the chicha thing on a No Reservations episode.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Day 2:


Control starter going through possible "false start": already very light and fluffy, but a bit smelly/stinky, I hestitate to say rotten eggs but clearly unpleasant: not cheesy, not vinegary.   


Chicha starter is a bit more watery. I know hydration is slightly over 100% due to chewing. Maybe a few tiny bubbles, hard to tell, little sign of activity, seems pretty dormant. Starting to get a micro amount of fluid separation. Smell is still very nice and pleasant, almost sweet.


I stirred both of them down to aerate further. 


I will feed them both this evening. 


 

cranbo's picture
cranbo


Day 3 morning:


Control starter doubled, and is light and fluffy again, and was starting to collapse on itself. Much more pronounced parmesan-cheese-like stink.   


Chicha starter is starting to show some life. Some small bubbles visible on the bottom of the container, but definitely not as active as control. Fluid separation was essentially gone. When I stirred it down it still seemed gummy. Starting to get some fermentation smells: similar cheesiness to control, but not nearly as severe or strong. 


I stirred both of them down to aerate further. 


I didn't feed them yesterday, but will certainly feed them tonight. 


Day 3 evening:


I fed both when I got back from work around 6pm.


Before feeding, the chicha starter had started to get some more activity, and the control had almost doubled again. 


I kept all the existing starter in both, and did the exact feed that I did on Day 1.


It's been about 7 hours, and both now have a similar level of fluffiness and aeration. Both starters are clearly very active right now. The chicha starter is appears just slightly more aerated and fluffy than the control starter. 


If I had to go back and repeat today, I would mix up a batch of flour/water just like day 1, chew it, and add it to the chicha starter again as part of its feed schedule. I may try that for a future feeding cycle. 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Day 6 evening


So I was out of town Wednesday, Thursday, and most of today (Friday), so I didn't have a chance to feed; left them both out at room temp. Got back home this evening and went to check out the starters. 


Control and chicha both smelled fairly strong of alcohol, although there was no separation/visible hooch.


Control smelled significantly cheesy still, but perhaps not as unpleasant, in addition to the alcohol. Chicha had barely a touch of cheesiness, still smelling very clean. There were a handful of 2mm spots of white mold on chicha starter, control was clean, although surface of the control starter was significantly darker/oxidized. 


Chicha starter was still very puffy, almost double the control. 


I scooped off the mold from the chicha starter, and selected some clean stuff at the bottom, finishing the refresh in a clean container. 


Fed each as follows:


 



  • 40g starter

  • 20g whole wheat

  • 20g all purpose flour

  • 40g water


 

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

I knew about the special fermented banana drink from reading and I can't tell you how disgusting I find that, but it is also so interesting because from what I understand, doesn't the lactobacillus sanfransico stuff come from us?  It's found in our saliva and other places on our bodies.  So it takes some bacterial from us and fungus from the wheat to make sourdough.  Of course, we have other bacteria in our mouth besides, right?  :)


I have another question for you, Cranbo, feel free to answer it elsewhere if you would prefer that this thread isn't hijacked.  I am in high humidity/high 90's weather right now and I am making some what looks like overfermented doughs.  Do you think I would be able to avoid that if I keep the final dough out no more than 3 hours and then let it retard in the fridge for several hours before take it out & bake it?  I'll post a picture, this is my third bread disaster...very little rise as well. 


Uh, I'll have to post a pic later, battery is dead.  Pale crust, dense gummy crumb, no high rise.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi oceanicthai,


Yes, pale crust, gummy crumb and no rise sound like overfermentation to me. 


I don't know what recipe you're using, but let your bread tell you how it wants to be treated.


If your room temps are too warm, perhaps adjust your recipe with very cool/cold water, if possible. At those temps, maybe the maximum you should leave it at room temp should be 1-2 hours (or possibly less!), because you are at optimum fermentation temperatures, so your yeast/starter will act quickly. Again, this depends on your recipe: the more yeast/starter, the faster it will ferment, regardless of temperature. 


Putting your dough in the fridge will slow down fermentation, but remember fermentation will still be vigorous in your fridge until your dough cools enough to where the yeast slow down. 


Don't worry about the thread hijack...more chicha updates to come!


 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oceanicthai, You could, but make sure to retard your dough after it has risen some, and that retardation temperature is not low enough to kill or stop the yeast in favor of the bacteria.. which thrives in much cooler temperatures.


 

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Thank you so much, Cranbo & Mebake, for the help.  I am making a new batch this morning, my starter is very vigorous.  I did an hour autolyse with 200gwater/ 200g of ww & bf, and the levain with 100g water/100g bf and 100g (already doubled) 100% hydration sourdough starter.  Then I added the salt, 200g of bf, and kneaded with long strokes for a bit.  (I wonder if I should have let it rest for 20m first?) then I added a soaker of rosemary & sundried tomatoes.  I did an S&F and let it sit 30m, then did another.  I am about to do the last one and then retard it in the refrigerator.  It is very puffy.  The sundried tomatoes are cutting the gluten strands on the surface of the dough ball some, but I am hoping it will be okay.  Maybe next time I will soak them longer.  I am using olive oil to do my S&F's because I want to incorporate that ingredient & it makes it easier to do.  (I have some leftover water from my soaker, I could have used that, too, I guess, for a higher hydration.) 


Mebake, my refrigerator is the only tool I can use to retard my dough, I am not sure of its temperature, but it has worked well before, overnight.  I should go check the temp right now. 


Any further thoughts? 


How is your chia doing?  um, I mean chicha?

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oceanicthai, As hamelman Points out in his book "BREAD", he quotes James Mcguire saying that it is usual for the yeasts to Die at temperatures below 5c or 42F, Lactobacilli will however thrive..


Khalid

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

Someday I want to get Hamelman's BREAD.  :)  I just read the thermometer on the bottom shelf in the fridge & it reads 49F, so it should work.  Thank you Khalid!

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Day 7-11 (writing on Day 11 evening)


I've kept on the feeding schedule, same feedings:



  • 40g starter

  • 20g whole wheat

  • 20g all purpose flour

  • 40g water


I've been feeding at least once, but sometimes 2x per day (morning before work and evening before bed)


Somewhere between days 7-9 both starters have lost their 'cheesy' stinky smell, and have been replaced by the dough-y, wheat-y smell of a healthy starter. A little alcohol and a litle sourness coming through too, both in a pleasant way.


The chicha starter seems to have a faster life cycle overall life cycle. I haven't timed it out yet precisely, but when I come home it has definitely collapsed on itself, while the control may still be growing. 


I've been taking photos regularly, but have yet to assemble them.


I baked my first loaf which combined the leftovers of of both chicha and control starters (which I combined as pate fermentee), using a Tartine Country Bread-inspired recipe innoculated with 0.5% commercial yeast and baking in a cast-iron dutch oven. Here it is!


Bread with chicha and control starters


I think the experiment is just about wrapped up. Both starters are fairly vigorous. As I mentioned, the edge might go slightly to the chicha starter. 


It's really hard to say if the chicha starter is really stronger or will yield breads with a significantly different flavor profile than the control starter.  But some more testing, errr, baking, is the next step.