The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Substituting starter for instant yeast

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SCruz's picture

Substituting starter for instant yeast

I had some extra starter (who doesn't?) and remembered a no-knead recipe that suggested substituting 1/4C of starter for the 1/4 t of instant yeast. I was surprised at the wonderful very obvious difference in texture and moistness of the bread. Is there a rule-of-thumb about substituting one for the other?


cranbo's picture

Starters vary pretty wildly in terms of strength, activity and hydration. 

There is no minimum or maximum amount of starter that you can use in a recipe. Of course, too little and your dough will ferment very slowly, too much and your dough will ferment very quickly. 

That said, I think a good place to start is from 10-25% of the flour weight in starter. As long as you're paying attention to how your dough is behaving, you can't go wrong.

SCruz's picture

Of course. Baker's percentage. I'm using 100% hydration WW starter. The answer is probably to experiment. And even then, as you said, there will be fluctuation because of the strength of the starter this week and next week and...

swtgran's picture

Your method seems to work fine for me.  I have been using a 1/4 cup, 100% hydration, sourdough when using between 3 and 3.5 cups of flour in my recipes.  I have been experimenting with that formula using the Artisan in 5 book.  So far, every loaf has come out fine.  The peasant bread is particularly good with a whole wheat starter.  Right now I have the Italian Semolina bread dough in the fridge to bake tomorrow.  I did also add one Tbl. of barley malt syrup to that, and it seems to be doing great.  Terry R.