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Sourdough starter from Lauren Chattman book - is there a typo?

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poorlittlefish's picture
poorlittlefish

Sourdough starter from Lauren Chattman book - is there a typo?

Hello

I've recently bought Lauren Chattman's "Bread Making: A Home Course" book and, after feeling rather confused about the whole sourdough starter thing from reading other books, decided to try the starter recipe in this one because it seemed simple.  The recipe is called Foolproof Sourdough Starter but I don't know if the recipe is wrong or whether I am a fool!  

Day 1 calls for 1/4 cup water mixed with 1/2 cup rye flour, with the same on day 2, before half of it is discarded and plain/all-purpose flour is added in.  I expected a starter to have a batter-like consistency, but this one is a paste and I don't know how I'm going to see bubbles in it when the water has been absorbed by the flour.  Are the proportions the wrong way around, ie should there be 1/4 rye flour to 1/2 cup water, or is the paste what I should be expecting?

Many thanks.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... doesn't have to be batter-like.  That recipe sounds fine. Stick with it and you'll find once the lactobacillus beasties and then eventually the yeasties get going, you'll have lots of lovely little lacy holes in the mixture.

All at Sea

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

bubbles will form in even the thickest of starters.  But flours do absorb a little bit differently, maybe all you need is a tablespoon of extra water to feel comfortable with the starter.  Add it and see.  If it still looks too dry (like crumbs) then give it another tablespoon.  Rye is very sticky stuff and is more likely to resemble cement or puddy or even cookie dough than wheat dough.  I keep my rye starter about the consistancy of toothpaste.  

JoeV's picture
JoeV

This is another case of imprecise volume measurement vs measuring by weight. To make what is know as a "100% starter," you would use equal amounts of flour and water BY WEIGHT. The 1/4 cup of water is actually a little light (about 20-25% light) for making 100% starters, and would come out more like a paste than a batter. For those who are new to starters, by making starters and feeding starters with equal amounts of flour and water BY WEIGHT, you can add the starter into a bread formula without being concerned about adjusting flour or liquid measurements, because your starter has equal amounts these ingredients already.

For those who bake a lot of bread, a scale is your best friend because your bread will come out the same each and every time. Volumne measurements, particulalrly flour, will vary each time you scoop it, and you should never trust a measuring cup for liquid. I have a 2-cup measuring cup that if I put water up to the 16 oz line, I have almost 17 ounces of water in the cup. It's an OXO, and has a problem with the truth. LOL

Davo's picture
Davo

This is clearly not trying to make a 100% hydration starter. And whether it's exactly 70% or 76% or whatever isn't really going to matter to the bugs!

It's probably about what my starter is at - to be honest I never measure when I feed - all I'm doing is keeping it alive - and same will work (within reason) for getting the starter going. And the variation in hydration of the starter is such a small proportion of the overall water in the final dough (I start with around 100 g at around 70% hydration, so say 42 g water and then add around 1.4 kg of water in two stages from there) that it will be well within the variability that I expect anyway. The difference in consistency is pretty marked between say 65% and 75 %, so you are talking a few grams of water differential in the actual starter that goes into the mix. It's not worth obsessing about. I'm much more concerned with weighing once I get to add significant proportions of flour and water when I make the levain and then a bread dough, but I always adjust hydration of both these by feel as it will anyway vary a little with flour type, humidity.

Back to the starter - at a "paste" rather than batter hydration, you will actually notice rise more rather than less, but not by bubbles frothing at the top, more by volume increase and - once it's going- by the honeycomb bubbles that are present under the surface when you drag through it with a spoon or finger. With a really thin batter, you might notice frothing/bubbles, but if they have settled down by the time you look at it, there won't be much to observe as the volume will have dropped back down, with the gas having escaped.

As mini noted, if you want it a bit wetter/softer, add a little more water - it's that simple.

And if you want it exactly 100%, by all means weigh it out precisely.

guapomole's picture
guapomole

I agree with Davo.  I don't worry about weight when dealing with my starter, I just like to keep it at about a 70% hydration and get it there by feel.  Sometimes that takes more water, sometimes less.

poorlittlefish's picture
poorlittlefish

The starter was the same sort of consistency as toothpaste and I didn't think anything was happening, but on day 3 I definitely noticed the changes that had been happening under the surface.  I've been putting equal amounts by weight now, the consistency is now more batter-like and it has bubbles on the surface, so it appears that I'm on the right path!

Many thanks to you all.