The Fresh Loaf

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Advice about using my starter for the first time.

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BernieR's picture
BernieR

Advice about using my starter for the first time.

I have been taking a pretty relaxed approach to my first attempt at starting a starter and I think it's working out ok. I got some wholemeal spelt flour and put it in a jam jar with water, then put a grape in, with bloom on the surface. When it started to show some activity I took the grape out and I have been stirring the stuff and adding spelt and then white bread flour, and pouring off liquid from the top. There was some acetone and then some blue cheese smell, but I made the mixture a bit drier and now it smells pretty good and yeasty and it's bubbling well. It's been going for about 10 days. It's on a bench that gets warm in the evenings and at lunchtime for an hour. Currently it's 25 C there.

 

I only have a small amount. I have taken a small quantity off to a different jar, as insurance, now I want to use some of what I have to make a loaf. Suppose I put some honey in a glass, dissolve in warm water, add a couple of tablespoons of my starter, leave somewhere warm for 10 mins, then add this to my flour? Then maybe expect a long slow rise? Is that the right sort of idea? Or am I rushing things?

Mira's picture
Mira

I'm thinking that your starter, at 10 days old, may still be too young for baking bread.  I'd give it at least 14 days of continual feedings.  Not sure about your approach; are you measuring your flour and water?

Good luck,

Mira

BernieR's picture
BernieR

No, I'm not measuring anything Mira, my approach is serendipity-based.

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

Welcome to sourdough, with any luck you will never stray far from your present approach. My  own approach to sourdough is less based on the science of it all and more closely based on serendipity, which Wikapedia quickly defines as a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise". Besides the fact that this is probabaly how it was discovered in the first place, I have little interest in getting all stressed out and discombobulated over degrees of sourness achieved, or spending hours deciphering scientific essays hoping to figure out if my lactobacilli are enjoying the perfect harmony of acidity and alkalinity. More and more since I started baking sourdough bread I hear "bread is more of a science then an art" but whether that is true or not, feeling that way is a personal choice, yes there is science involved in what is going on in your lump of dough, but I started this hobby because I like the feel of dough in my hands, not test tubes. Many of my best loaves were  a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise".

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I suggest that you read the section about sourdough in the lessons section of the home page here to get a grasp of how things work.  Your can also find some good advice at sourdoughome.com  

Make sure that you feed the reserved portion, too.

Yes, you can bake with a 10-day old starter.  Yes, sourdough fermentation goes much slower than fermentation with commercial yeast.  If you can park your dough in a place where the temperatures are, say, 30-35C, it will grow faster than it will at 25C.

Paul

BernieR's picture
BernieR

I'm going to use honey in the recipe, is there a positive reason not to add it to the starter? Or is it simply unnecessary?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

That's for sweetness and flavor.  Honey in the starter is simply unnecessary.  The yeasts and bacteria are attuned to the food that they find in the flour.

Paul

BernieR's picture
BernieR

Thanks Paul,

The instructions for my dried bread yeast require you to dissolve sugar in water and add the yeast granules to that. I'm just wondering why there's a difference with sourdough starter? I'm going to try it both ways.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The sourdough starter (assuming you are talking about one that you already have going, rather than a dried one that you are trying to revive) is already an environment populated with thriving organisms equipped for life in that environment.  My expectation is that if you put it in water with honey, you may see some activity but the starter won't be appreciably more active in the final dough.  There is even the possiblity that it may be slowed down by being put in an alien environment (water + honey) that is not its ideal.

The dried yeast is comprised of living but dormant organisms which require moisture to return to an active state and nourishment to grow.  A water and sugar (from whatever source, including honey) solution will provide a short-term launch pad for them although it isn't their ideal, either.  As you read more about baking yeast, you will find that the sugar isn't really necessary for baking purposes.  You just need to wake up the yeasts with the water and then mix them into the dough where they will be quite at home.

Let us know what happens with the experiment.

Paul