The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can this starter be save?

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NancyB's picture
NancyB

Can this starter be save?

I have been following Peter Reinhart's starter recipe and today was day 6. My starter had doubled + in size and I proceeded to the last step prior to mother starter. I am looking at it and it seems too firm to possibly rise anymore. It's the consistency of a kneaded bread dough. Should I add more hydration or should I just cover and hope for the best ? It was quite vigorous prior to this addition. (Obviously this is my first attempt) :)

Thanks.

NancyB from Ontario 

wally's picture
wally

NancyB - It sounds like you've added more flour by weight than water.  Reinhart (in BBA) calls for equal weights of both.  In any event, if so, you've just overfed it.  That means that it will take the yeast and lactobacilli a little longer to consume the really big meal you've put on their plate.  But it won't kill them.  I would cover it, leave it out, and watch for expansion - perhaps a little slower than previously.  For the next feeding, I would add more water than flour by weight.  For a 100% starter, you want something that resembles a very thick pancake batter.

Good luck,

Larry

timbit1985's picture
timbit1985

erm PR's sourdough starter is around 60% hydration I do believe. I followed his method by weight and ended up with a fairly stiff lump of dough. If we are talking stages, then it was fairly batter like until the final stages. I seem to remember the stages slowly decrease the hydration from ~100% to a biga like texture of 60-65% for the mother.

NancyB's picture
NancyB

Thanks for the info: Yes the results have continued to rise but do resemble a biga in texture/consistency. Should I just go ahead and use this as my bread base, perhaps adding a small amount of instant yeast,  or should I try and add some hydration?

Anxious to start some baking although it might be cookies at this point.

NancyB

timbit1985's picture
timbit1985

do a test.the worst that can happen is that you waste a bit of flour and salt. If you make a dough with 20-30% of starter, and it can double in size in 4 hours you are good to go. Have fun, I LOVE my PR's starter. A good way to judge volume change is...

Take a tall and narrow tupperware/gladware. Squish a leavened ball of dough into the bottom, filling all the corners. Take a dry erase marker, mark the side of your container with the current time and volume of dough. Make a second mark on the container where the dough needs to rise to. Wait 4 hours, and see if the dough has doubled in size.

Ghobz's picture
Ghobz

I don't have BBA but I have Artisan Bread Every Day and he calls the starter "seed culture" then that seed culture is turned in mother dough. It seems to me that the principles are the same as in BBA from what I read in your posts. I had the exact opposite effect, my seed culture looked like a high hydration starter, a tad thicker than a 100% hydration starter (very thick batter). Then the Mother starter looked more hydrated than the one pictured on the book.

I wish there were more pictures illustrating the consistencies of the seed starter and the mother dough at different stages of the process, and then a few pics or the bread making process (a 6 to 10 days undertaking, not a short project). Words alone, no matter how well defined in the introduction of the chapter on levain (M. Reinhart explains what he means by tacky, sticky and so on) are no where as clear as a good picture can be. I don't care much for some other pictures on the book that have little pedagogic value but when it comes to levain bread, starters and mother doughs, really, good pics would have helped me to adjust consistencies depending on our climates, micro-climates in our kitchens, flour characteristics (so regional), etc.

I therefore decided to trust pictures or videos of bakers handling the dough or pouring levain chef in their mixing vessel to guesstimate what would be the right consistency.

NancyB's picture
NancyB

Thanks to all your sage advice I baked my first sourdough boule yesterday. I used my new scales, peel, bread stone, and thermometer *S* and it turned out better than I had hoped. When the aroma of the bread filled my kitchen I was close to tears quite possibly from being overtired tending anxiously to the starter for a week!

I steamed the oven with a pan and water and that seemed to work well however I read elsewhere on this board that someone ruined their oven using this technique. I only used one cup of water is that dangerous?

Off to make some poolish it's french bread this week.

Cheers. NancyB