The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Relationship between wholemeal content and rate of fermentation

Divine Crust's picture
Divine Crust

Relationship between wholemeal content and rate of fermentation

Hi Everyone,

This forum has been a guiding light in the past 6 months on my journey to getting to grips with slow sourdough fermentaion, I wouldn't have managed without you! x

All the breads I make have at least a 25% wholemeal component and I have arrived at a formula which seems to work now, using 5% active rye starter, 69-75% hydration depending on type of flour, modest amounts of stretching and folding and a 12-14 hour bulk fermentation at 19degC. The dough doubles in that time and after scaling and bench rest it takes about 2 hours to proove before being baked. Plenty of oven spring, good crumb, good flavour. So far so good.

Then recently I decided to make an entirely white loaf using stoneground flour and 5% butter for a soft crumb sandwich loaf. It is extremely sluggish at every stage and simply extending the fermentation time results in a pronounced acid flavour. Not what I want. Increasing the starter to 10% did nothing noticable, nor rasing the temperature to 23degC. What's happening here? I am quite sure it has something to do with the lack of wholemeal flour. I know wholemeal ferments quicker and has more enzymes, but how can I compensate for this, without introducing an acid flavour? Is this even possible?

Cheers

Aniko

breaducation's picture
breaducation

5% and 10% starter levels are extremely low. I'm not suprised things move along sluggishly. I made a bread once that was mixed very strong, bulked for 30 minutes and then shaped and allowed to ferment at room temperature overnight(14-18 hours) and even that had 15% starter in it. Try upping it. It might seem counter intuitive but upping the starter can actually decreases sourness.

I would suggest using an all white starter and upping the level to something around 50% for the loaf you are trying. A white flour starter is much less acidic than a rye starter and upping the starter level will seriously reduce your bulk time. The result will be a  mildly sour(if at all) sandwich loaf.

Divine Crust's picture
Divine Crust

Yes I will try a much larger quatity of wheat starter, but the long fermentation suits me...that's when I sleep! So what I really want is this new bread falling into line with the others. Last night I increased the temperature of the water in the dough as well as the room temp and it made almost no difference! Hmmm

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

which like the bread, will first be sluggish so keep it small and feed wheat for several days.  Note the sour and speed to peak with each feeding.  Then when adapted, build to recipe amount.  

If the starter rises slowly yet is very sour, be sure to discard before feeding.  I don't think I would feed as high as 1:10:10 (s:w:f) for stability sake, try something around 1:4:4 first.  Hydration can vary but 100% or more will speed things up a little.

Rye starter beasties are snobs and I noticed a slow down of activity when suddenly fed wheat only.  Could be that rye and whole grains are easier for them to metabolize so they have to wake up digestive pathways when fed wheat or maybe rye starters are different beasties altogether.  I really don't know exactly.  Feeding your rye starter a little wheat mixed into the rye once in a while might prevent the slowdown.

Divine Crust's picture
Divine Crust

As it happens, I used to have a wheat and a rye starter, but now because I'm lazy, I use rye for everything and it does not seem to have made any difference. Its really the comparison between my breads with a wholemeal component, be that rye or wheat or spelt and this all white bread. Why is it behaving so differently. I bake almost every day, (trying to start micro bakery) so I am fairly well established in a routine and I think my starter is in good shape. I normally use all the starter I have, save for a bit stuck to the sides of the container and then mix rye and water to mashed potato consistency...not very scientific I'm affraid! This rises and peaks in about the same time as the dough is ready, so about 12 hours and then I put it into the fridge until I need it, be that later that day or in a few days.

I will try your suggestion of the wheat and rye starter. I'll let you know how it goes!

Aniko

Divine Crust's picture
Divine Crust

I have added 3% sugar to my white stoneground loaf and that has fixed the sluggishness! I wonder how much sugar is left in the final loaf and how much is being used up? I use warmer water than for the other recipes too, but now all my doughs are in sync. So I think my hunch was right, that it was simply the lack of a wholemeal content that caused the slower fermentation.

I wonder if anyone else thinks this is interesting or whether they have experienced something similar, because mostly people talk about temperature and quantity of starter affecting rates of fermentation but I'm starting to think the type of flour is equally significant.

Annie

Grenage's picture
Grenage

Flour type definitely has an impact.  I generally use 10% rye, 90% white, and my starter will actively devour and raise any loaf with a decent content of white flour; if I feed my starter wholemeal or rye instead of white, it will seize.  It sits there and does nothing at all.

Your starter may well be composed of beasties which are more specialised in breaking down rye/wholemeal components, which will be lacking in an all-white loaf.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... might be the way to go. I have raised sourdough breads with pure rye wild yeast and had no problems whatever the flour type used in the main body of the dough. For example, a 100% white ciabatta raised with a rye-only starter behaved itself immaculately.

But in the pursuit of the perfect flavour, I've used starters that are fed with equal portions of rye, wholewheat and white. I like that combo very much. Fed this varied diet, the wild yeasts don't get spoilt or become fussy buggers. This means I can then fling together any combination of flour or stick to just one type for my bread and the wild yeasties are mongrelised sufficiently to cope with one and all.

All at Sea

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I keep my 80 g of SD starter 33% each rye, WW and AP at about 70% hydration or less in the fridge.  When I want to bake a WW bread I build the 3 stage levain toward it by taking 20 G of starter and feed it 100% hydration  of WW and water over 3 (2-4hr) stages to get the amount of levain required for the bake.  If I am baking a white bread I feed the same 20 g of stater AP flour.  That way the levain is a full strength  and feeding on the flours it will eat in the dough.  A 50% WW bread would get 50% WW and 50% AP when the levin is built.

Like Breaducation, I too use more Levain - usually 20-30% of the total dough weight is full strenth SD levain.

Happy Baking

Divine Crust's picture
Divine Crust

to hear about all the different types of starters people have, and I suppose it must support a community of organisms unique to the flour or flours used. As I understand it, it is always the yeasts inherently present in the flour that get activated by the starter. So in fact (forgive me I have forgotten where i read this) a starter is completely renewed about every 14 refreshents with virtually none of the original organisms left, because its always the new flour that introduces its particular yeasts.

But I am really talking about the wholemeal content in the main dough affecting the rate at which it doubles in size in the bulk proof. My rye starter raises any dough, including 100% spelt (which is 70% wholemeal and 30% white spelt). But it seems that the more wholemeal content there is in the final dough, the faster it matures and specifically with an all white dough it is noticably slower...too slow for my schedule, hence the problem with it. Perhaps this only shows up with a long slow fermentation, I suppose its what has been called the 'no knead' method, though of course it is nothing new, it is how bread was made for thousands of years!

Anyway, thanks again for all your help!

Annie