The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter multiplication question

MNBäcker's picture

Starter multiplication question

I need 90oz and 75oz of starter for my Whole Wheat and Cranberry-Walnut sourdough breads, respectively. Is it better to get my starter "in steps" or can I just add amounts of water and flour to it and let it sit longer until it's ripe?

I have a wine refrigerator that is perfectly suited to keep the starters at 60 degrees for any length of time, if that helps.

In the past, I have done both steps, and they seemed to each have worked fine, but I'm curious if there's an advantage (other than less work with the second step) to either?

My options (again) are: add 5 ounces of starter to 20 ounces of water and flour each on Saturday night (for a total of 45 ounces), then add another 22.5 ounces of water and flour each on Sunday morning. This mix would then sit until about 5pm.

Or: add 5 ounces of starter to 42.5 ounces of water and flour each on Saturday night and let it sit until Sunday night at 5:00pm.

Thanks in advance,


Yerffej's picture


My experience with various starters tells me that the answer lies in the starter itself.  I have had starters made with the same ingredients that acted quite differently in terms of length of time to rise and degree of strength within that rising period.  Also the flavor profile was different and in this case I would guess that the single feeding longer fermentation would lead to a more sour starter.  I let my nose be my guide with regard to the degree of sourness in the starter.  Smelling the starter every 4 hours or so can be most revealing with regard to the character of the starter as it matures.


Janetcook's picture

Hi Stephan,

I use freshly milled whole grains in my starters.  If I do not do frequent smaller feeds I get a very sour starter.  I don't think any one way is 'better' than another.  Simply what you want out of your starter for the loaf you are baking and what works with your time schedule.  

I prefer my starter on the mild side so I generally do 2 feeds a day about 3 - 4 hours apart and then add the leaven to my dough in the evening.  Remainder of leaven is built into a larger than normal feed and kept at 60° until morning to be used in the day's new build.  Seems to stay somewhat mild doing this but all is constantly changing here - especially now that summer temps. are here.

I do think that my leaven has more 'rising' power when I do small and frequent feeds compared to one large and long feed but am not sure.  That is a hard one to test.

Good Luck and have fun experimenting to see what works for you.  The loaves you are planning sound very good!

Take Care,