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Is there a standard or convention for how refresh/feeding ratios are written?

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Is there a standard or convention for how refresh/feeding ratios are written?

When feeding/refreshing a starter, you often see ratios written like this: 1:2:2, 4:2:1...n:n:n.

Is there a standard or convention for how these ratios are written?

  1. starter:flour:water
  2. starter:water:flour
  3. flour:starter.water
  4. flour:water:starter
  5. water:flour:starter
  6. water:starter:flour

?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The first ratio is starter, and depending on the author, can be followed by either water or flour.  

Many known authors will write flour after starter and then water in order of importance (s:f:w)  but long ago I and others found that awkward because it didn't follow logic order in mixing.  Adding water to starter and then flour last (s:w:f) (starter:water:flour) makes the most sense and is easier to remember.  But do check with each book author.  Those aware of this confusion will often clarify.  When the flour and water has the same weight, the order is not important which comes first, it is a 100% hydration mixture with starter ratio listed first. 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

That's the problem I'm having: a book author's conventions.

I'm trying to convert Nancy Silverton's Olive Bread recipe to baker's percentages, but it's a nightmare because she doesn't list any conventions.

I can't (yet) figure out her white starter ratio, but your comment re:100% hydration may have helped.

I think she might be using a volumetric ratio. That would explain why the numbers are so skewed when I try to calculate them. She keeps saying "match the starter with flour and water".  I think she might be using (2 cups starter : 1 cup water : 1 cup flour) instead of (grams starter : grams water : grams flour).

I can't even figure out her "grams per cup of flour", although I think she's using ~138 g.

I should probably just weigh the ingredients myself instead of beating my head against the keyboard.

Thanks much.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

And I just found this from bwraith: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5843/nancy-silverton039s-breads-la-brea-bakery#comment-29902

Good to know that I haven't gone crazy (You owe me a beer Nancy Silverton! Or a Mozza pizza!), because that's what my math was saying too:

She feeds in a ratio of 16 parts water to 11 parts flour by weight.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and a very liquid sourdough starter too!  145% hydration

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

That's what I calculated last night.

I just thought it was wrong.

I'm accustomed to seeing 100% and below, so 145% made my brain go "BZZZT! Not right. Calculate again!" I did, but came to the same result. I guess it was right.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so don't let your brain fizzle.   Good luck on the recipe!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When I stumble upon that kind of info in a book, I circle it and stick in an extra tab into the book.  (you know those stick on type tabs you see when the book is closed)  Saves me a lot of work looking for it later when I want to use a recipe.  

Just off hand, "matching starter with flour and water"  means she is a (starter:flour:water) type.   Maybe someone has tabbed her ratio in the book and can give you a page number.  Meanwhile, try using the index ...  starter feeding  or elaborating a starter    or look for info in the appendix

Have you run  Silverton starter ratio  thru the TFL archives yet?

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

I'm also looking at Silverton's book right now, and her section on white starter is baffling.  Thank goodness I already have one going and don't need to try and decipher what she means by terms like "double" (my best guess is that when you mix the flour and water for the feed together, they have the same volume as the starter) and "match" (she doesn't explain, but the phrasing suggests that this is different from "double"). 

Regardless of all the confusion, she feeds every feed 59.3% water (145% hydration) and 40.7% bread flour.  So I just make sure I have the right weight of starter with those proportions of flour and water.

As for any hope of translating her feedings to a ratio, she recommends three feeds a day and they are not all the same.  If you translate her feedings to ratios of starter: flour: water, they go something like this:

first feed  1: 0.31: 0.44
second feed  1: 0.35: 0.51
third feed  1: 0.38: 0.54

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

That word ('match') sent me into a near-apoplectic fit this past weekend.

I just could not figure out what she meant by it, until I did: she means "volumetric match", so if you have 2 cups of starter, 'matching it' means adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water, both of which have different weights (hence the 16 water : 11 flour)! Gah!

Not sure if you've seen it, but I posted calculation tables for her white starter here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/28673/calculation-table-nancy-silvertons-145-white-starter

If you find any errors, please let me know.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

You mean after all that confusion, she's recommending a maintenance schedule of equal volumes water and flour, which added together amount to the same volume as the starter?  I never did figure out "match",  I commend your perserverance!

I have no intention of building up 12 cups (or even half that amount) of starter just to bake one or two loaves of bread, so I won't follow her feeding regimen, but it would be good to be able to figure out the flour and water percentages of her starters called for in recipes.

So, have you baked anything from the book yet?

I'll take a look at your tables, may take me a day or so to do it justice :)