Mixing techniques for a starter feeding or a levain
Another TFL member, in a private message to me, expressed frustration regarding how to disperse the starter when feeding it or when mixing a levain. I thought this might be of general interest, so I'm sharing my suggestions. Besides, others might have even better techniques from which I might learn something. So, here is my method:
Re. dispursing starter when feeding it.
There are better sources of frustration to devote your problem-solving to, so here are a couple easy techniques:
1. Weigh your starter into your mixing bowl. Weigh in your water. Use some impliment (I use a dough whisk.) to break the starter into pieces about the size of a large olive. Give it a good whisk or stir with a spatula. Walk away for 10 minutes or so. Come back and whisk vigorously until the starter is almost completely dispersed. If your starter is healthy, you should have an extremely frothy, milky mixture at this point. Now add the flour and mix until all the flour has been incorporated and is moistened - no dry appearing flour on the surface. I do this with a silcon spatula about 90% of the way, then use my fingers, folding the "dough" over and over itself in the bowl. Then transfer the ball of levain to a clean container for fermentation.
2. If you don't have a dough whisk, do the same with a spatula, but, after the pieces of starter are softened, smear them against the side of the bowl with the spatula, give a few mixes, smear some more and continue until the starter is well dispersed.
I like dough whisks. I have a large one and a small one. You can get them from KAF, breadtopia.com, and from Amazon.com. Some cookware shops carry them, too.
Hope this helps.