The Fresh Loaf

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Maintaining a 100% Hydration White Flour Starter

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Maintaining a 100% Hydration White Flour Starter

The following is a description of how I maintain my 100% hydration (1:1 flour:water by weight) starter. The term 100% hydration refers to the baker's percentage of water in the starter, i.e. the water in the starter is 100% of the weight of the flour in the starter.

This maintenance regime assumes that your starter is already healthy, fresh, and active. This is not what I would do to "start a starter", but rather it is the maintenance regime I follow to store, revive, and use my starter over time.

The following characteristics are for a 100% hydration starter. The characteristics, signs of health, problems, and readiness for use are different for starters maintained at different hydration levels.

Characteristics of my 100% hydration white flour starter:

  • The weight of flour and water in the starter are equal.
  • The flour is either bread or AP flour with protein content around 11-13%.
  • The water is bottled (Poland Spring).
  • Normally fed at room temperature.
  • Stored in the refrigerator when not being fed.
  • The consistency can be described as a thick, stirrable paste after it is fed.

Characteristics of a recently fed, fresh, active 100% hydration starter:

  • It rises by double in about 4-5 hours at room temperature after a feeding of 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water by weight)
  • It maintains a reasonably thick, elastic consistency after rising by double.
  • It smells very pleasant. The smell could be described as flowery, tangy, and slightly sweet.
  • No liquid layers develop on top or in the middle even hours after rising by double.
  • Hooch (an alcoholic layer of liquid on top) forms eventually when it is stored in the refrigerator for a week or more or left out for a long time at room temperature after doubling.

Characteristics of a 100% hydration starter that is not yet ready or is possibly unhealthy:

  • Unpleasant odors a few hours after feeding.
  • Separated layers of liquid form a few hours after feeding.
  • Takes longer than 4-6 hours to rise by double at room temperature after a 1:2:2 feeding (starter:flour:water by weight).
  • Develops a runny consistency a few hours after feeding.

An Important Note on the Large Effect of Temperature on Rise Times

Before launching into the information below on maintaining starters, it is worthwhile to point out one of the largest points of confusion in sourdough starter maintenance. Temperature has a big effect on the speed of reproduction and the activity of the organisms in a sourdough culture. For example my kitchen may average 76F in the summer and only 69F in the winter. At 76F, my starter may rise by double after a 1:2:2 feeding in 4.2 hours, whereas at 69F it will double in 6.4 hours. At 64F, it would take 9.4 hours. It is not a problem to follow the procedures below in a kitchen with a temperature averaging 64F; but clearly, you need to allow for rise times of roughly double in the various discussions below. So, adjust your expectations and timing accordingly, if your temperatures don't hover fairly close to 74F or so, which is the temperature assumed for the discussions below.

Assuming a healthy, active starter, here is the maintenance regime I follow to feed, store, revive, and use my starter.

Feeding

I almost always feed my starter 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water by weight) and then allow it to rise by double at room temperature, which should take about 4.5 hours when it is fully active and recently fed. Once it has risen by double, it is placed in the refrigerator. The starter can then be used directly from the refrigerator in a recipe for the next 3 days. On the first day, it is almost the same as it was right after it rose by double. On the second day, it has a little more flavor and may be ever so slightly weaker, but it is still at an excellent point to use in a recipe. After 3 days, it can still be used, but it will have stronger, more sour flavors, and it will be noticeably weaker in terms of rising power. If you have a recipe that uses a very small percentage of starter in the dough, it won't matter much if you use old starter. I've used week old starter in recipes where the flour contributed to the dough was only 5% of the total flour weight. If you are using the starter in a recipe that has a high percentage of starter, it may be better to use the starter after 2 days or less in the refrigerator.

Although it may not make much difference, I actually maintain my starter with a 1:2:2.2 feeding ratio, i.e. at a 90% hydration. With the bread flour I use (KA Bread Flour) that results in a consistency of a thick paste that is a little difficult to stir once you mix it up well. The amounts you work with don't matter much, either, other than the amount of flour being thrown out. I typically work with a total culture size of about 80 grams. My scale will measure down to 1 gram of precision. A typical 1:2:2.2 feeding would be (16g:30g:34g) of (old starter:water:flour). Below I am doing 1:10:11 feedings, which are done by feeding (4g:40g:44g) of (old starter:water:flour).

The above method works great, but see in the variation section below for an update on how I am feeding most recently to better accomodate a 12 hour feeding cycle. Also, I now use an even thicker consistency, around 80% hydration. It seems to keep longer this way on the counter or in the refrigerator.

Storage

Once the starter has been in the refrigerator for more than three days, I consider it to be in storage. It can't be used directly in a recipe, but instead will have to be revived. If I plan to store my starter for a period of time longer than 2 weeks, I usually will thicken it up, as it keeps better at a thicker consistency. However, even at 100% hydration, I've had no problems reviving my starter after 2 months. At thicker consistencies, the starter can last for many months in the refrigerator. I believe Glezer says it can last more than a year in a very stiff consistency, like 50% hydration. However, the longest I've gone with my starter is 2 months. I use glass canisters for both feeding and storage. I usually pour the ready to refrigerate starter into a fresh container, so that the sides are clean and the starter is stirred down to take up less volume. The containers have a rubber gasket that seals them from the air in the refrigerator but allows some gas to escape if pressure and gasses build up in the container.

Revival

When the starter has been in the refrigerator for more than a few days, it must be revived first before it can be used in a recipe. I do this by simply feeding it once or twice in the manner described under "Feeding". After being stored for a week or two or more, rising by double after a 1:2:2 feeding may take something like 6-8 hours at room temperature. If it only takes 6 hours, one feeding works fine. However, if it takes more than 6 hours to rise by double at room temperature, I generally feed it one more time. The second feeding usually takes much closer to 4.5 hours, which is an indication it is fully revived. On the occasion where it had been stored for 2 months, it took a third feeding at room temperature before the starter would rise by double in 4.5 hours at room temperature after a 1:2:2 feeding.

One subtle aspect of all this is the question of how long after the starter has doubled should you wait to feed it again. The starter needs to ripen enough to bring the cell counts up to their maximum level. In the period after you feed the starter, the cell counts of yeast and lactobacillus will double every couple of hours or so. Once the starter is ripe enough, the yeast and lactobacillus cell counts will stop increasing. The pH and acid levels get to a point where they attenuate the cell activity, and they can no longer multiply in numbers. So, you want to let the starter mature enough to reach that maximum cell count, and then feed it again or store it. Just based on experience, it seems like my starter does well as long as I let it sit for an hour or two beyond the point it doubles. I usually "stir it down" at the point it doubles, and then let it rise some more. However, I refrigerate it right when it doubles, since it will continue to ripen in the refrigerator. Recently, I was rushing my feeding schedule and slowed my starter down by trying to feed too early, just before it had completely doubled, in fact. The result was that it was taking longer than usual to rise. The solution was to let it sit a while longer for a few feedings in a row. It didn't take long at all for it to bounce back to doubling in 4.5 hours from a 1:2:2 feeding at room temperature.

Variations

You can feed at a lower or higher ratio than 1:2:2 in order to adjust the amount of starter you want to build to match a recipe or to better match the times when you can feed the starter conveniently. However, I never feed at a lower ratio than 1:1:1 to avoid any problems with acid building up or the starter becoming too ripe or underfed. Higher ratios can be used to lengthen out the rise time if you know you will not be back within 4-6 hours to store the starter in the refrigerator before it becomes too ripe. At warmer temperatures, the starter will rise by double much more quickly after a 1:2:2 feeding, taking something like 2.5 hours at about 85F, for example. At 85F the timing for rising by double will be very roughly half as long as at room temperature, and at 65F the timing will be very roughly twice as long (very, very roughly).

Recently, I've been experimenting with feeding ratios for a 12 hour room temperature maintenance schedule. I have found that feeding 1:10:11 (for a slightly thicker consistency I'm using 90% hydration), results in a 12 hour cycle. The starter will double 8 hours after the 1:10:11 feeding, and then I stir it down and let it ripen some more. If I feed every 12 hours on this cycle, the starter is at full strength from about 8 to 12 hours after being fed (all this at room temperature). When you feed a starter routinely at higher ratios, like 1:10:11, it will ferment for longer periods of time at higher pH. The result should be that the starter will have relatively more lactobacillus in it compared to a starter maintained with a 1:2:2 feeding ratio, since the lactobacillus thrive in a slightly higher pH environment (around 5 pH).  I can't say what the effect on flavor would be, but it makes sense that the aromatic compounds and acids produced by the lactobacillus would be more evident in the one maintained with the high feeding ratio. Although this is not at all scientific, I do think that the starter I've maintained with a 1:10:11 feeding ratio has a more intense aroma than the one fed with a 1:2:2 ratio.

Even more recently (added 12/14/2007), I've settled on feeding every 12-17 hours using a feeding of 1:4:5 (starter:water:flour by weight). Using this procedure, the starter doubles in volume in about 4.75 hours at 76F or about 7.25 hours at 69F. Even at 69F, the starter has peaked in 12 hours, so it can be fed again. At 76F, it will peak and fall after 12 hours, but it is still at full strength and will rise vigorously when fed. It seems like a good compromise that can be used year-round for a 12 hour cycle. The starter can be maintained on the counter at room temperature indefinitely using this procedure. If I know I won't be baking bread for a while, I thicken up the starter by feeding it 1:4:7 to thicken it up when I feed it next, and put it in the refrigerator immediately after feeding. Then, I take it out a day or two in advance of the next bread-making session and revive by letting it rise by double and feeding 1:4:5 every 12 hours. Although I generally go through the revival procedure, I've found that the starter is at close to full strength even after 7 days in the refrigerator when stored this way. So, it's possible to take the starter out of the refrigerator, let it rise by double, and use most of it in a bread recipe, and take a tiny portion of it to revive for a couple of feeding cycles before returning it again to the refrigerator using the 1:4:7 feeding and refrigerating immediately.

When to Refrigerate

I like flavors to be less sour and more mild in sourdough breads I make. I've found that the right flavors and lower amounts of sour flavor seem to be there when I don't let the starter become overly ripe before using it in a recipe. That's why I tend to refrigerate when the starter has just doubled. You can experiment with feeding schedules that allow the starter to become more ripe before refrigerating. It will change the balance of organisms in the culture and therefore the flavor. Also, when you use a large percentage of starter, the larger amount of accumulated byproducts of fermentation in a more ripe starter will contribute directly to the flavor and texture of the dough, in addition to the contribution made by the subsequent fermentation.

An Additional Tip on Refrigerated Starter Storage

If you are using your starter fairly frequently, like once a week, then just refrigerating it when it doubles will work very well. You can use the starter directly out of the refrigerator for a period of time if stored that way. For storage it works well, as I've had no problem reviving my starter after 2 months when stored just after doubling. However, as Mike Avery commented below, and I've verified as well, feeding a well revived and healthy starter in such a way as to thicken it to a firm consistency and then refrigerating it immediately allows the starter to keep very well for longer periods of time. It can be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to rise by double or a little more and used directly in a recipe, even after a week, I've found. If you use this procedure, the starter should still be "revived" with enough feedings, usually one or two more, at room temperature to verify that the starter is rising at full strength again before it is again stored in the refrigerator.

Converting Starters

I sometimes make a recipe starter for a whole grain bread by feeding some of my starter with spelt or whole wheat. I have never fed a starter with whole grain repeatedly to completely convert it, so I have to accept the flavor as is and a small amount of white flour in my whole grain recipes. I'm sure there are many subtle flavor differences if you feed repeatedly and fully convert a starter from being fed exclusively with white flour to being fed exclusively with a whole grain flour. I've found the feeding and rising process works about the same way with whole grains for a recipe starter, except that the rise times seem a little bit faster with the whole grain flours.

Mistakes

It's pretty hard to kill a healthy starter, but here are a few ways to possibly send yours over the edge.

  • Heat the starter to over 95F and kill the organisms - easier than you might think, for example...
    • Use actual oven heat and get up over 100F very quickly.
    • Place the starter in an oven with the light on - check carefully first - it can be much hotter than you think in there with just the oven light on and the door closed.
    • Use hot water to feed your starter
  • Put acids in the culture
    • The culture doesn't need acid if it's healthy. It generates all the acid it needs on its own.
    • Sometimes a small shot of vinegar or other acid, such as pineapple juice, may help fix a sluggish culture, but if you feed acid repeatedly, you can put too much in and kill the starter.
  • Not feeding the culture for too long at warm temperatures or repeatedly underfeeding over long periods.
    • When out of the refrigerator, the culture will be very active and must be fed to stay healthy.
    • It is especially easy to underfeed a culture when temperatures are warmer.
  • Overfeeding the culture
    • If you feed before the culture has ripened enough repeatedly you can dilute the culture and eventually kill it.
    • More likely to happen at colder temperatures, stiffer consistencies, or higher feeding ratios. Let the culture rise by double, then let it ripen for a number of hours beyond that. A dip should form in the middle when the culture is at its peak. You can let it go for a number of hours beyond the point it dips, but it should be ready to feed at the point it is dipping or collapsing on itself.
    • If you refrigerate the culture for storage, you can let it just rise by double and then refrigerate it. It will continue to ripen in the refrigerator. However, allow it to come to full ripeness at room temperature over a couple of feedings once in a while, normally done when reviving the culture for baking, to avoid any decline similar to overfeeding caused by repeatedly refrigerating when it has just doubled.

Given the above, it makes a lot of sense to keep back a small amount of old starter in the refrigerator, even if just the scrapings from the inside of the container that came out of the refrigerator, until you're sure the feeding went well. It's also not a bad idea to make a small amount of stiff starter and keep as a backup. Some dry their starter and freeze or store it for backup.

Tips on Quantities Used, Mixing Technique, and Volumes (a scale is highly recommended, but to use measuring spoons...)

As I've gained experience, the amounts of starter I work with have dropped. I haven't found any disadvantages to using smaller quantities. For example, my most recent feeding routine (mentioned in the variations section above) is 1:4:5 (starter:water:flour by weight) is done by taking a clean jar, putting it on the scale and adding 5 grams of starter and 20 grams of water. I stir vigorously with a tiny whisk to aerate and thoroughly mix the starter into the water. Then, I add 25g of flour and use a fork to thoroughly mix the flour into water, forming a fairly thick paste - not quite a dough, but very thick. I then take a small spatula and scrape down the sides, put the lid on the jar, and place the jar in a nice unobtrusive spot on my counter where hopefully no one will disturb it.

If you don't have a scale, my first advice is to get one. It makes baking much more reliable, especially when you are trying to reproduce another baker's recipe. A good digital scale costs about $25 and is very much worth the trouble. Still, the procedure in the previous paragraph is easy to do by taking 1 teaspoon of starter, adding 2 tablespoons of water, and stirring vigorously to aerate and completely mix the starter into the water. Then, add 3 tablespoons and possibly another teaspoon or so of flour, and mix thoroughly with a fork. Scrape down the sides of the jar, cover, and place on the counter.

If you are planning to store the starter for a long time in the refrigerator, it helps to carefully drop the recently fed and thickened starter into a clean jar, so that there is no film of flour or paste stuck to the sides at all. Over a longer period, it is possible for mold to grow on a residue of flour paste left on the sides of the jar.

Comments

What I describe above is just one way to do it. I'm sure there are many other ways, but I find this method convenient and robust. It's hard to kill a healthy freshly fed and risen starter that is stored in the refrigerator. It is convenient that the starter remains in a good usable state for several days. Very small amounts can be used when storing it for long periods to avoid large amounts of flour waste. I store something like 100 grams when I'm planning to store the starter for more than a few days, so my revival can be used in a recipe without wasting much if any flour. Maintaining only one starter and converting it for recipes each time is easy and convenient, although by not fully converting the starter to a whole grain flour some flavor or other characteristics may be missed with this approach.

Comments

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Bill,

This information is so good to have, and if this procedure is what creates the bread in your posts, it's working very well.

I don't make sourdough often enough to have as good a feel for starter handling as you've described here.  Might do me good to make smaller batches more regularly, and keep notes on the starter's health along the way.

Thanks for such a detailed entry in the starter encyclopedia!

Sue 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Sue,

I'm glad you like the write-up. I hope it helps to summarize some of the basics in one place, even if it's just one way of doing it. Other's can jump in with comments on other approaches, variations, or point out any problems they see with this approach.

I'll be happy to correct the entry, add to it, and so on, if others chime in. Meanwhile, it's at least one real example of how it can be done.

Bill

caryn's picture
caryn

Bill- I was also very pleased to see your great summary on maintaining sourdough starter.  I am always wondering if I am doing things correctly, because I put a lot of time into thinking and planning and making SD breads these days.

I do want to add what has happened in my recent experience.  I read your blog on Friday as I was preparing to bake some SD bread over the weekend.  First I panicked because I had let my sourdough rise for about 12 hours each time  I refreshed it (at room temperature using the 1:2:2 proportions), starting on Wednesday night, so I was allowing it to rise beyond what you suggest is optimal.  I do this because during the week, it is difficult for me to have the sourdough rise for fewer hours because of my work schedule.  (How do you manage to do this?) So I worried that the starter would either not be very strong, or that the bread would be too sour. 

Well the end result was that the bread worked wonderfully.  The starter was obviously strong, since the bread rose nicely, and the flavor was excellent.I actually had been doing this for a while with most of the SD breads that I was making.  In this case I was making the Glezer large boule (Thom Leonard).  So I think that it is okay to let the starter rise at room temp for up to 12 hours because it works for me.  I think what I discovered is that if the starter is good to begin with, it will be quite forgiving.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Caryn,

I think that you're right about the starter maintenance process being forgiving for the most part. My experience has been that a starter fed 1:2:2 and left to ferment for for 12 hours at room temperature leaves it in a very ripe state, i.e. a somewhat runny consistency with hooch formed on top and so on. Normally, I've refrigerated mine before that point, more like after 5 hours or so after feeding. It would continue to ripen in the refrigerator and might strengthen when I take some out in the morning and leave it warming up, sometimes for a while before it goes into a dough or preferment. However, that's my starter. I think starters vary in terms of what works for one vs. another, so what I'm posting in my blog is what I've experienced with mine, not necessarily something that's optimal or would work for another starter.

One thing to try would be to increase the feeding ratio a little, especially if after 12 hours the starter seems overly ripe to you, too. For example Glezer's firm starter, which ZB uses and we've been discussing, uses a refreshment cycle of 12 hours. The ratio she uses is 8 times the original starter weight, so it would be closer to a 1:4:4 feeding (9x the weight) if you feed a 100% starter. It's a firm starter, but it gives some idea of the feeding ratio that might work for a 12 hour cycle. Along the same lines, a thicker starter should last longer, so you could thicken yours up a little. However, if you have found that 12 hours at 1:2:2 works, maybe there's no need to fix what ain't broke.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Caryn,

I've been playing lately with the Glezer firm starter and also with higher ratio feedings. In both of these cases, a 12 hour cycle works well. I edited my blog entry to mention the idea of the high ratio feeding, which I was doing as 1:10:11 starter:water:flour. It rises by double in 8 hours, and it seems to be at a nice peak of ripeness by 12 hours. The difference in doing the higher feeding ratio should be that the lactobacillus will be enhanced in numbers, since it ferments at a higher pH for longer with the high feeding ratio.

I agree, by the way, having done some more testing with the 12 hour cycles, that the starter should last for 12 hours and be fine at room temperature after a 1:2:2 feeding. However, at least in my case, it's more ripe than I usually let it get before using it. In fact, I usually use my starter when it is not all that ripe - shortly after doubling. Basically, it's a bit like using a lower percentage of starter in the dough. Lately, I've been doing more doughs starting with very low percentage starter and letting them rise for longer.

The Glezer firm starter should be particularly forgiving as far as leaving it out at room temperature for longer periods. I found it had changed little after 24 hours. Thanks to Zolablue for prodding me along, I learned a lot from doing the firm starter.

In both the 1:10:11 feeding, and maybe even more so with the Glezer firm starter, I notice more intense and very pleasant aromas compared to my starter maintained with 1:2:2 feedings (which smells very good too but is not as intense). I don't know if the bread will taste any better or not, but I do notice a difference.

I made some bread with the Glezer firm starter, and I think it was ever so slightly more sour, but the flavors were very good. My wife said she thought it was "the best flavor ever". I'm not sure, as I liked my very mild bread flavors, and this was a little more intense to me. The problem is, it may have had something to do with exactly how I made the bread, as opposed to any difference in the starter. I'm not quite up to maintaining both a 1:2:2 starter and a firm starter, peaking them at just the right time, and then doing a "double blind" tasting, yet, but one of these days...

Bill

Oldcampcook's picture
Oldcampcook

Bill,

That is a great write up.  I am printing it out and taking it home (I snuck on line at work!) to keep handy and will use it this week end.

Old Camp Cook

(Oklahoma) 

mse1152's picture
mse1152

What part of the state are you from?  I was born in Vinita (northeast corner of OK).

Sue 

Oldcampcook's picture
Oldcampcook

Just south of Mounds on Hwy 75.  About 25 miles south of Tulsa

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Your methods are pretty much identical to how I maintain my starters as well, and you've outlined it so clearly. If I ever give a bit of starter to a friend again I'll print this out for them for care instructions. Thanks for the reminder about being careful not to underfeed with the upcoming warm weather. Since I only created my starters back in November, I haven't gone through a hot summer yet maintaining them so it will be interesting to see how they behave, esp. if we have as hot a summer in the Northeast as we had last summer.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Mountaindog,

I'm glad to hear I'm not too far off from what you're doing with your starters. Thanks for all your posts on sourdough methods along the way, and the same to many other contributors here on the site, of course.

Bill

 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Thank you for taking the time to compose and organize. Awesome job!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Paddyscake,

Glad you liked it. I hope it will be a useful write-up. I think it helps bridge the gap between the information on "starting a starter" or "reviving a dried starter" and recipes that use natural leaven.

For many, an easy way to get into sourdough breads is to be given some starter from a friend or obtain one from King Arthur, Sourdough International, Carl's Friends, etc., and then follow a maintenance process.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Hey, man, I luv ya!  Thanks from the bottom of my heart.  I appreciate this in so many ways - awesome!  I am going to read through again and make note of any special questions I have since I did decide to try a liquid starter for comparison.  (Still loving my firm starter, however...:o)

While there is an enormous wealth of info on the site regarding starters it is strewn about in myriad threads.  I so love your detailed posts which compile important info in one spot (and a few others that do this so well).  I am often hesitant to post a thread rather opting to try and find one to attach to so people don't have to repeat so much.  But so often lately I find "almost" everything I'm looking for but pieces are always missing so instead I spend way too many hours in a frustrated search.  I hope I can remember to include enough info myself in future posted threads because you never know who's reading and trying to learn.

Bill, you are such a gentleman and so generous in your posts. 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm very pleased to know this helps you, as you've helped me with your recipes, posts, and advice many a time. I've been thinking it could be useful to try to put this "starter maintenance" information together in one spot. I hope people will take a look and post their own approaches, mention any problems or differences they may see with it, suggest improvements, or add benchmarks or fine tuning to the time estimates, effects of temperature, and so on. I wrote it only for the 100% hydration starter I have real experience with.

Let me know how it goes with your starter. My feeling is that there is not that much practical difference in maintaining a starter as a dough, paste, or batter, but it would be interesting to hear the routines others follow and differences experienced when using other hydrations.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Bill, I think you are so right that what I really learned by doing this new liquid starter is how easy they really can be to start and that the liquid starter is going to most likely taste the same as the firm.  I just had to experience it for myself.  And I'm still very interested in knowing about its characteristics but, again, I'd never trade it for my firm one.  That one is just too easy to deal with in comparison. 

I think more of this stuff should be on FAQ's in the appropriate subject section.  It would just take some organization but as more people use the site and complie this stuff I would assume Floyd would like to see that happen.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

ZB - I'd love to learn in similar detail how you maintain your firm starter as per Glezer, since the refreshment times I assume could be very different. As you may know, I tried maintaining the firm starter from Glezer's recipe initially but it kind of petered out on me. I may have been overfeeding it at the time, however, and maybe I should give it another try by converting some of my existing batter starter since that is very strong now that it is 6 months old. I forget, did you post that info on your firm starter somehwre already?

zolablue's picture
zolablue

MD, I just posted to you on the Glezer firm starter thread.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I know it might be a pain, and maybe you don't have the time, but...

If you could do it at some point, the perfect place for your information about firm starters, Glezer style, would be in a blog entry. It's an easier place to find it, and the technical detail discussions can go back and forth with less effect on the front page.

You could just cut and paste the forum entry over to a blog entry. Maybe there's some way to just move the whole thing, but I don't know how to do it.

This is partly self-serving in that one of these days, I may do the experiment of trying out maintaining a firm starter for a while. When I do, I'd like to come visit your blog and ask questions without getting too crazy on the front page commentary.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Good idea, Bill.  I will figure out the best way to do it.  I wonder if there is an easy way without reposting but I'd be happy to either way.  Until recently I really didn't understand what the blogs meant or I'd have done it that way in the first place. 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Very nice and comprehensive write up! You rock!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Bluezebra,

Glad to hear you like this write-up. I remember in the SD pagnotta recipe blog entry, you mentioned that you're not quite ready to dive into sourdough yet. I wasn't sure if that was in general or just with respect to the olive bread recipe. The maintenance process is one of the pieces of the puzzle, at least. If you buy starter or someone gives you some starter, you can skip more or less straight to this process without the sometimes troublesome process of starting your own starter from scratch. You could then move right into doing some sourdough recipes. As you can see, it's easy and forgiving, once you have a healthy starter. Let me know if you decide to give some sourdough recipes a try. Those yeast raised pagnottas you did looked great, and doing them with a starter instead of commercial yeast works about the same way.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I was putting off starting to use sourdough because as I understood from reading here, the feel of the dough and maybe the rise time was different than with using commercial yeast stuff. LOL, since you know many of my adventures in dough have been less than satisfying rofl, I figured I would hold off adding extra variables. The main thing I see is having a problem knowing when my dough is done, when I'm using a normal kneading technique, than also knowing when the dough has proofed enough.

But, with hubby's encouragement and Mike Avery's book as well as write ups from you and Sourdough Lady, SD-G, Floyd, browndog, zolablue and many others I'm sure I've left off, I'm really considering making a starter. I really want to feel the pride of having done it myself! I just got a package in the mail from Mike with my malt and I also bought some yeast from him, but I had bought his books and have read them. Sooooo I'm about to take a dive off the high platform and just go for it! I doubt very seriously I will build the starter that grew and took over the world or at least escaped and killed us in our sleep, so what the hey right?! ;)

Anywho! Happy baking and you continue to inspire the masses Bill!!!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Bluezebra,

Good luck pursuing it then. I have Mike Avery's book and spent a lot of time on his web site when I was first figuring out how to do sourdough recipes. His site has some of the best organized and presented information on the web about how to do sourdough breads.

My three favorite books for sourdough breads these days are the BBA by Peter Reinhart, Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer (Zolablue got me going w/Glezer, much to my benefit), and Bread by Hamelman.

By the way, I didn't mean to discourage you from starting your own starter. Although it can be a little troublesome sometimes, it basically will always work eventually. However, the best approach is probably to get a known good starter. There's not that much benefit to starting your own other than the challenge of knowing you can do it yourself. Having said that, it seems that everyone wants to make their own starter, just for the magic of it.

Bill

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Agree - Mike Avery has a nice friendly website at www.sourdoughhome.com and I also learned a lot there, I especially like his flour tests, and I also printed out the background info on sourdough and how to maintain it for a friend when I gave them some of my starter, a dutch oven, and a No-knead SD bread recipe as a Christmas gift - (BTW that friend, who never even made bread before, is now successfully making sourdough NK bread nearly every weekend! Thanks Mike if you are out there...)

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

big huge dittos on Mike Avery and sourdough.com! He's already been so generous to give me help via emails on kneading and dough development. In fact the two breakthroughs in my baking recently are a direct result of the time he's spent to help show me technique. He's an awesome guy and sooooooo knowledgeable!

Bill! You hit the nail on the head it's the "magic" of creation I think! (But btw, hubby has totally nixed any planned attempts for me to carry the starter around in my armpit for a few days like some of the old miners and settler used to do when travelling! bwahahahahaha! Go figure! ;)  )

Happy baking you guys and now I'm more excited than anything. Maybe I will start the starter on Sunday! If so, I will have to figure out how to start a blog so I can look back on it and laugh at all the pitfalls, yeah?!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Bluezebra,

The other thing you might want to do is follow along with JMonkey and TT, since they have created a blog entry to start a starter "in tandem". I'm thinking of following along, too. I've binged away trying to start starters a few times, and always managed to get one or two started up, but I still have things I'd do differently based on what I learned in the last experiments.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

when I read last night they were starting. I still think I'll start on Sunday but I will follow their blog to see first hand illustrations on a feeding/daily basis! I hope you will also share with me your results of your starter too?

Or do you think I should go ahead and start today? It's 10:12 CST so not toooo very far behind. Did you already start yours?

Hey would you mind if I copy / paste your instructions into my new blog so that I have them in easy reference for me? Let me know! TIA!!!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

BlueZebra,

I'd go ahead and start any time. The timing is so random anyway, that it's unlikely they'll become active at the same time later.

Please feel free to copy the instructions. No problem at all. However, please remember my instructions here are for after you already have a starter working, so it's what you would do to maintain a starter, not to start a starter. I'd follow JMonkey and TT, or do SourdoLady's method, or Sourdough-guy's method. They live on their respective blogs on the site.

I've already started a new one for the fun of it. However, it's probably not a great one to follow. I'm just trying out some things that I felt I learned from last time. If it works I may do a blog entry on it, just so I can remember it and share something that worked.

In case you're curious, what I did is put 1/8 tsp of ascorbic acid and 1/8 tsp of salt in 500mL of water. Then I mixed 45 grams of that water with 15 grams of KA pumpernicle, 15 grams of KA Organic Whole Wheat, and 15 grams of KA Organic White Whole Wheat. That has been sitting at room temperature since 9:30PM last night 5/18/07.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Thanks for the permission to use your instructions as a reference for caring for the starter once it's active! I mainly just want to get it to my blog to keep for reference before I forget which thread had the info in it! ;)

I'm going to start it tomorrow morning and I'm going to be following Mike Avery's instructions. He is saying to use equal parts flour and water by weight but by measure he says:

1/4c filtered water

1/3c whole rye or whole wheat flour

 I'll put the specifics of temperature and stuff on my blog!

Thanks for sharing your starter recipe and particulars with me!

Cheers! And happy cultivating! :D

bwraith's picture
bwraith

BlueZebra,

I'll go visit and see how it's going when you get started. I forgot you were going to use Mike Avery's version. Yes, good luck with that. It should work fine.

Bill

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I wanted to just stop by and thank you again for your help.  Your above write-up is extremely detailed, it is great.  Like many others here, I will be printing this out and keeping in my notes, for future reference.

My starter that was seperated with liquid on the bottom, is now bubbly, and no liquid is present upon each of the feedings.  Its not growing yet, but it is looking alot better then it did.

Thank you.

TT

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Bill, I have been keeping my batter starter at 60g:60g:60g.  I read sometimes that people add flour and water and stir in rather than removing or discarding some of the starter when in this form?  Is that correct?  If so, how is that done or should it really be kept as I've been doing by discarding all but the 60g, in my case, or whatever amount one wishes to keep?  I just though part of the ease of keeping a liquid or batter starter was this stirring in new stuff - maybe that's wrong.

 

Btw, I wrote this in my firm starter thread, but Maggie Glezer personally kept a firm starter unfed for 3 years and with only 5 refreshments was baking bread. 

 

I also think my batter starter may be more sour tasting than my firm starter but more testing needs to be done to determine for sure.  Darn, that means more bread baking.  (heehee)  I also prefer the milder sourdough flavors and had originally been told or read that stiff makes more sour but not in my case.  Maybe it is the Nebraska yeasties that are mild.

 

I need to capture a photo of my risen and gooey firm starter and then make a blog entry so I have all stages to show.  So stay tuned.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

I don't see much reason to favor stirring in vs. transferring to a new container, other than just wanting to periodically clean the containers, which I do. My normal routine is to "store" about 100 grams of starter in the refrigerator. To refresh, I would transfer 20g to a new container, vigorously stir in  40g of water, then add 40g of flour and stir it enough to mix well. Then, leave that on the counter at room temperature to rise by double. If I'm going to refresh it a couple of times, as might be the case if it's older than a few days, then I might just repeat that process, at which point the 80 grams of old starter would be thrown out and replaced with the new. However, usually, the reason I'm serially refreshing the starter is to use it in a couple of recipes over a baking cycle. I'm therefore usually building up to a larger amount of starter, so it is often the case that I just make the refreshment part of the larger build, which results in less being thrown out.

I think the balance of organisms in a starter is affected by the feeding ratio, and the length and temperature of the fermentation, which in turn affects the flavor of the starter and the doughs built with it. I've found my starter does not result in very sour flavors. My schedule is to feed by 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water by weight) ratio at room temperature (maybe 73F right now, and around 69F in the winter) and stop the fermentation when the starter is doubled in about a little over 4 hours when the starter is well refreshed. It's hard to say what happens if you use a different ratio and timing. There are some very subtle things going on that can make the effective amount of fermentation and the relative strengths of the yeast vs. the Lactobacillus change when you use a different routine. Small changes in consistency or flour can affect that balance. For example, if you feed with a lower protein flour at a somewhat wetter consistency, it will take significantly longer for the starter to rise by double after a feeding compared to a higher protein flour and thicker consistency. That would mean the fermentation would run longer if you follow the doubling rule, and who knows how that would affect the relative balance of yeast and lbs in the starter, especially when you repeat that routine over a long time.

Bill 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Would you explain how you build?  That was really partly what I was wondering about just stirring in more flour and water.  But then you would have to make sure you used the same ratio of new food to existing starter, correct?

What happens if you stir in the same amounts as normal but each time you're adding to a growing starter?  For instance, I'm making a total of 180g batter starter and then if I feed it again with only 60g W: 60g F what happens?  And obviously you would only do that a few times before you would have to dump some.  Would that constitute underfeeding?

I tend to be quite anal about how I keep my starters - both of them now.  I really can't stand it if I accidentally spill some on the side when I'm transferring to a new, clean container. :o)

Btw, my batter starter is tripling easily in 4 hours.  Are you suggesting then I start putting it back in the fridge after doubling to keep the flavor not so sour?   I hope I'm not sounding dense.

Oh, and I use only KA white flours.  I feed my firm starter with KA bread (12.7%) and this new batter one with KA AP (11.7%).  I'm using the KA AP for the batter one because I made Hamelman's recipe and he recommends protein levels of flour not to exceed 12%.  They are definately very different colors, oddly.  The batter one is very white and the firm one is very off-white, not that that probably means anything.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

I'm not much of a fan of just stirring in small quantities from time to time. It would be hard to tell what condition your starter is in if you do that. Depending on how often you did that, it could be you would underfeed it, of course. I have a very specific routine every time - 1:2:2 and until just double, then refrigerate or refeed. I refeed it serially until it is rising in a reasonable amount of time, which for my particular starter seems to be about 4 hours after a 1:2:2 feeding at room temperature. To me, my routine sounds like a variation on Glezer's whole discussion about serial refreshments until you get the "gold standard", which for her is quadrupling in 8 hours with a firm consistency and an 8x feeding (meaning the ratio of "new starter" to "old starter" after feeding is 8 times), if I read it right. For my starter, the "gold standard" is to refresh it until a feeding of 20g:40g:40g rises by double in 4 hours. I'll have to try her conversion to a firm starter and see how long mine takes to rise.

It sounds like you have a potent starter, as you've said. When you triple in 4 hours is this after feeding 60g:60g:60g? I would be curious how long it takes if you do what I do, i.e. see how long it takes your batter starter to double in volume at room temperature (what is your room temp?) for a feeding of say, 36g:72g:72g.

Yes, I'm saying stop the fermentation after it doubles and refrigerate. That's the routine I'm doing. It probably makes a difference that I feed 1:2:2, as well.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Yes, I have been feeding only 60g:60g:60g and that was really a random number I could think of since I didn't want to make a bunch of starter.   The other day after taking it from the refrigerator, where it had been unfed for 3 days, I refreshed it.  It had risen by about a quarter in 1 1/2 hours but after 4 hours it had tripled so it really took off.  Surprised the heck out of me!

With the firm starter, Glezer says you must continue to refresh until it gets to the quadruping (in 8 hours or less) and if it doesn't just keep refreshing until it does.  Period.  She says you are buildng the starter to become stronger and stronger by doing that.  That is why I wonder how the strength of the batter starter compares as you don't have to build it in that way.  It just has to double so that perhaps is the part that makes this one easier to most people.  ???

Anyway, I was planning to feed my batter one again tonight at 1:1:1 or maybe a better thing would be to refrigerate it and in the morning feed at 36g:72g:72g to test it for you (since it is late and I'll go to bed before the 4 hours passes tonight).  My kitchen it generally around 69 - 70 degrees these days. 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

The concept of serially refreshing to strengthen the starter that you mention for Glezer's firm starter is similar to what you do with a batter starter. You have to feed it repeatedly at room temperature after it has been stored in the refrigerator to bring it to full strength. The same thing, more or less, has to be done if you have a new starter. Yours appears to be very good. I would think you could convert it to a firm starter, and it probably would do a good job of getting it to rise by something like quadruple in 8 hours, Glezer's "gold standard". However, if it didn't, you could refresh it repeatedly according to Glezer's instructions. Or, you could refresh it repeatedly as a batter and accomplish the same thing more or less.

For example, I noticed that my starter recently has been a little weak. I had been a little bit impatient, so I had been refreshing it 1:2:2 and letting it rise at about 80F. I was doing this only once, then refrigerating it again. I think this may have caused the balance of organisms to change, and the result was that it was taking longer to double than I'm used to. To fix this I started feeding it at room temperature again, and I've fed it 1:2:2 a few times in a row, i.e. getting back to the old routine. It is starting to rise much more quickly now. This shows how small changes in the routine can change the way the starter behaves.

In Glezer's refreshments, you are increasing the amount of starter by a factor of 8, i.e. take 10g of starter and feed it to get 80g of "refreshed starter".  The equivalent ratio for a batter starter would be to feed (about) 11g:45g:45g (instead of 10g:25g:45g) As you can see, the serial refreshments and quantities are all about the same, except there is "more water", just as you said.

When you feed at a higher ratio, you reduce the pH during the fermentation for a longer period of time compared to feeding at a low ratio. The lactobacillus do better at a pH more like 5, whereas the yeast can thrive down to much lower pH levels. So, if you feed only 1:1:1, you aren't giving the culture very long to ferment before the pH drops down where the lactobacillus are inhibited. I've been reading some papers recently and also comparing Glezer's method. By refreshing at 8x with a firm consistency, e.g. 10:25:45, she is giving the starter more time to ferment at a lower pH. You can do something similar by feeding a batter starter at a higher ratio, as described above.

So, last night, I switched part of my starter over to a firm consistency by taking feeding my batter starter 16g:24g:56g, i.e. 8x, just like Glezer's method. It has tripled in 8 hours, so I guess it needs some more refreshments. I also fed it at a high ratio (4:38:38) and that has risen by about 30% in 8 hours. I'm hoping the higher ratio feedings at room temperature will bring it back to about the same potency I've had in the past and maybe closer to the Glezer gold standard.

I think you said your starter doesn't quite rise by quadruple in 8 hours? Can you remind me what your experience is with the firm starter as far as amount of rise by so and so time? I guess I'll try refreshing the converted Glezer starter at around the 12 hour point.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Thanks for all that.  First, no way would I convert this batter starter to firm.  I only made it because I noted that Hamelman's instructions are super simple and it worked super fast and appears to be going strong.  However I did change his refreshments from 5.5 oz starter:2.4 oz flour:3 oz water (125%) because it was doubling in an hour.  I felt it was too long to wait to refresh at 12 hours when it doubled so quickly.  That's why I pulled a number out of the air and started refreshing at 60g:60g:60g. 

 

I still have my first ever starter (firm) which is going great guns.  It not only quadruples in 8 hours or less but it has for months now.  If you see my thread on Glezer's Firm Starter I have posted my photo progress and the hour.  So you don't have to schlep through it look here at my site and note the captions will tell you exactly the timing:

 

http://zolablue.smugmug.com/gallery/2617049#138085923

 

I'm going to refresh my batter starter now at your suggestion of 36g:72g:72g and see what happens.  I'm assuming it should take longer to double at that feeding.  Oh, they are now looking the same color, too.  Don't know why the batter one looked so much whiter at the beginning.  LOL.  This is so anal but its kinda fun.  :o)

 

Sorry, I meant to answer.  You never want to refresh a firm starter until is has risen and begun to fall but even then you have at least up to 12 hours (I once went 18 hours) AFTER it had collapsed to feed again.  That means I can leave my starter at room temp and only feed up to once per 24+ hours and it is still performing.  That's why I love that sucker.  Then it takes a much smaller amount to make a recipe.  Glezer thinks often sourdough recipes, especially old ones, use too much starter but that's another subject I wanted to discuss with you.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

I'm not suggesting you convert the Hamelman starter permanently to firm. However, I would find it very interesting to know what the rise times are if you feed it 12g:27g:48g, so that you could see how it rises compared to your firm starter when the consistency is firm and the flour is multiplied by 8, as in a Glezer refreshment. Similarly, I'm interested in what happens when you feed it 1:2:2, since I know how that has worked when my starter was doing well. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, something isn't quite right at the moment, so I need to work on refreshing it to see if it will recover.

Meanwhile, my firm conversion took about 12 hours to peak at about 3.25x or so. It seemed to be pretty much done, so I tried refreshing it again, 12g:30g:54g, so that I'm multiplying by about 8x, but I'm making it a little more than 50% hydration. I think the last one was a little too firm, possibly.

My batter starter also appears to be whiter than the firm version of the same thing - using same flour exactly.

I'm still unsure what you mean about "using less starter" with the firm starter. I've made recipes in the Glezer book simply by using my batter starter, contributing the same amount of flour as the firm starter would and adjusting the water down ever so slightly. It works fine, as far as I can tell. I don't think there's any requirement to use more starter if you have a batter starter. It's just a matter of adjusting water, it seems to me. However, until I can compare two completely healthy starters to see if the conversion works in both directions with similar rise times, it's hard to tell. That's why I'm curious what happens if you take some of your firm starter and see how it rises in a batter consistency, and take some of your batter and see how it rises in a firm starter.

As far as the issue of using less starter, I agree after trying sourdough-guy's recipes recently, that the results are very good using low percentages of starter and longer rises. There are complications that occur when you use too large a percentage of starter, like in that sourdough ciabatta conversion recipe I did with the large amount of starter replacing a poolish. If you do that, the gluten can break down from the acids that are there in greater concentration in a sourdough preferment than in a yeasted preferment, particularly if you let the sourdough preferment get very ripe. Also, in the same way that feeding in too low a ratio results in too low a pH for the lbs to be active, you can do that in a dough with too large of a starter percentage. That's why I've intuitively moved toward less ripe starters. After doing sourdough-guy's recipes, what I've concluded is that using less ripe starter is somewhat like just using a lower percentage of starter. The ultimate version of that is to do away with the preferment and just use a very small amount of starter in the actual dough, as in some of the recipes of Sourdough-guy's I've tried recently.

One thing I'm not so excited about with the firm starter is that it seems hard to clean up after mixing it, it's hard to dissolve the starter in the water when you're refreshing, and so on. Any recommendations for how to avoid the mess and how to mix the water with the starter easily? It was so easy to just spoon out a little batter starter, add water, stir vigorously, add flour, stir it up, and let it sit.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...ok, I see what you are getting at.  So I can basically convert both starters, since I know they are very active in their proper form, to see what they do in the converted form.  (Is this even too anal for me!?  hehe.)

Glezer prefers to keep her starter at roughly 60% hydration.  So your amounts are a bit different than what I'm using.  I have taken mine town to 12g as the lowest I've gotten it to quadruple in 8 hours.  For some reason when I take it down to 10 it doesn't and I've just been too impatient to allow it to build strength at that level.

Glezer says in ABAA that her starter is so strong that it takes very little of it in a recipe.  Remember, that was my first venture into sourdough so I took (and still do) take her information seriously.   I noted that the recipes in that book ranged between 25g - 35g of starter but in other books I've seen 1 cup - 2 cups in a recipe.  That's a pretty big difference.  Since my starter at its peak makes roughly 1/3 rounded cup I became very confused at how I would use it in another recipe calling for a cup or more.  Again, being new I just didn't know what that meant.

I think your batter starter may be easier as you're used to it.  For me, I have such a ritual but I use the same one for both.  I always use a small wire whisk to mix the starter into the water.  It just takes a bit more whisking for the firm but not that much as my starter is always so gooey.  Then I use a stiff rubber spatula to mix in the flour, plop it onto my counter, scrape the bowl and knead.  It takes me the same amount of time to refresh both starters. 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

Thanks for the refreshing technique information. It was very refreshing, lol. I can see that it might be pretty easy to clean and so on, once you get the right technique going with the whisk and the spatula. I also think I need a small scraper to get the thick, sticky old starter out of the container. I'll just keep plugging away at that. I also think I may be getting it too firm - closer to 50% than 60%. I see in Glezer's refreshment she is using 25g water and 45 grams flour, which seems to imply 25/45=55.5% hydration. So, I'm curious exactly what you use, because it seems like tiny changes in hydration when it is so dry could make a big difference in just how stiff it is.

Yes, I am curious how one starter will convert to another, and when I have both a firm and batter version that are both healthy and in a routine, I am definitely going to do just that. Ironically, I seem to be sidetracked with some sort of slowdown of my starter after 2 years of everything being fine.

If I were to try the experiment, what I would do is take some batter starter and refresh it normally and also convert it to a firm starter using the same flour multiple for feeding. I would also take the firm starter and refresh it normally but also convert it to a batter starter by feeding it the same multiple of flour again. Then, the idea would be to watch the race between the converted starters and the refreshed normal starters. As far as whether Glezer's starter is actually stronger per unit of flour, that's what I'm trying to get at by converting starter back and forth to see what happens. It may be she has a starter with higher cell count per unit of flour. However, although I have no reason not to believe her statement, I'm very curious to test it in practice, which is why you hear me trying to convert one starter to the other and compare them. I guess this is because my overall intuition, notwithstanding Glezer's statement, would have been that the cell count per unit of flour of a healthy, fully refreshed batter starter and a healthy, fully refreshed firm starter would be very similar. Admittedly, getting those tests designed so the comparison is really apples to apples is tricky.

As far as the comparison of recipes that use small amounts of firm starter vs. one that uses cups of batter starter, I guess it's all in the details. My overall tendency is to say that if a recipe calls for one cup of a certain consistency of starter, you could just build one cup of whatever starter at whatever consistency using your firm starter as the seed. Then just go from there. We did some things like that in some previous discussion, but I can't remember what thread now - maybe when playing with SD ciabattas. It was in a similar context, like me trying to show you how a firm starter and liquid starter aren't so different, other than the water (still love that way of putting it). However, maybe Glezer is right that the strength of the firm starter per unit of flour is just greater than a batter starter, assuming both are at full strength.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Just wanted to report that I checked my batter starter that I refreshed at 12:30 pm and it has just "almost" doubled.  Not quite.  I used 36g:72g:72g.  So at that refreshment it is almost doubled in the same time it was tripled at 60g:60g:60g.  LOL.  Does that mean anything?  (Hehe...wonder how many people are reading this and just shaking their heads.)

 

Bill, you are using the amounts from ABAA but she rounded numbers differently and changed the starter in the new book A Blessing of Bread (BOB).  I had bought that, as I said, after reading Andrew's notes that she went into more detail on sourdough starters and I found I liked it better for the starter info.  So that is what I posted on my thread so check the recipe here:

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2390/firm-starter-glezer-recipe

 

I first was at 20g:30g:50g (always in Glezer she says starter:water:flour) and the stuff went crazy at those amounts almost filling the pint jar.  That's when I took it down to 15g:30g:50g and it didn't really take long to quadruple within 8 hours at that refreshment.  It almost quadrupled when I used 10g:30g:50g but I was in the midst of marathon bread baking and I just didn't feel I wanted to take the time to take it down when it was going so well at the 15g:30g:50g.  Now temps outside are so much warmer so it would be easier but I haven't felt the need.  I hope I'm not repeating myself too much.

 

I understand what you are saying about building the amount of batter starter needed from the firm starter to liquid but how many times do you do that before you know it is of adequate strength.  Maybe I'm splitting hairs (gee, ya think :o) but that is why I was getting so nervous over my creation of the new starter to begin with because I didn't understand how strong it needed to be, ie; double or triple or what within a certain time to be ready for a recipe.  With my firm starter Glezer tells you in no uncertain terms and that is precisely why she favors a firm starter for the home baker.  No more guessing.

 

I do think we're going to discover that is isn't really such a big difference and just plop in some starter and go for it.  On the other hand, why do people like Hamelman specify what type starter; stiff vs liquid and bother to mention, in his case, he thinks you should be true to the recipe?!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Zolablue,

Yes, when mine is working normally feeding it 1:2:2 at room temperature, it should double in about 4.5 hours. That seems just about right.

Yes, it is probably easier to get familiar with the rise using a firm starter. However, I've learned what the habits of my 100% hydration starter are too, so I know that I can check its health by knowing how long it takes to rise by double for whatever feeding ratio I'm using. Similarly, there is a need to refresh it serially until it does rise fast enough and is therefore fully healthy. In other words, there really is no guessing for me either, it's just that the feeding routine and rising rule is different.

Now, for the comparison, if your firm starter is 60% hydration, you could feed something like 32g:18g:40g, which I think should feed flour 2:1 and add enough water to make the hydration 100%. If it's comparable to your Hamelman starter, then one would think it would also double in 4.5 hours. Or use 16:9:20 if you're running out of starter.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Reporting back.  Batter starter is doubled in 4 1/2 hours.  I just noticed the time posted on the threads isn't correct for me - I am using CST.  Anyway, by the time it took me to post above and then check it again (roughly in another half hour) it has doubled.  Now I'm going to go refresh only part of my firm starter to batter but I'm not sure now how you wanted me to do that.  Did you mean to use the same refreshments as I just did for the batter one?  That would be almost half my firm starter - yikes.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

You've got mail.  I did refresh the firm starter at the 32g:40g:18g so we'll see how it goes - 40g being the water.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

ZB,

Sorry, I either typod or did that math wrong. If you have 32g of starter at 60% that would be 12 g of water and 20 g of flour. So to multiply by 5x and end up with a batter starter, you would need 4 parts more flour, i.e. 80g, and 4 parts more water, i.e. 48g, so it would be 32:48:80 starter:water:flour. Sorry...,

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Hey, I told you I'm really bad at math!  I let you do the computing and I just follow blindly.  So do I need to redo this experiment?  :o)

No problem.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Oh boy. I've got too many things going and keep going off the tracks here. OK, let's start over again....

in 32g of starter at 60% there are 12 g of water and 20g of flour. You want 4 times more flour, so the 80g of flour needed is right. However, we want the ending hydration of this one to be 100%. Soooo, take 20g flour from starter + 80g added flour = 100g of flour. The starter is contributing 12g of water. Therefore you need 88g more water.

So, it would be 32g:88g:80g of starter:water:flour. Maybe better to do 16g:44g:40g of (firm starter):(water):(flour).

Maybe we should wait until I've had some sleep before you do anything else. I might run you out of starter by tomorrow at this rate.

sorry,sorry,sorry....

Yes, and we must check out AI, except that I thought Melinda was way better than these two.

Bill

zolablue's picture
zolablue

At 9:00 pm I tried to fix the...ahem...problem (lol) by adding to what I already had.  So I'll watch it until I go to bed.  But most likely I'll need to start afresh tomorrow for better testing purposes.  Don't feel bad - no harm done at all.  I would never let my first and favorite mother go bye bye.  Besides in addition to that one I have part of it I've been keeping since the first week in March per Glezer's instructions for long-term refrigeration as a backup. 

I disagree about Melinda.  Yeah, good voice, but ordinary.  Nothing that stood out to me.  Hubby and I chose Blake and Jordin to be in the finals a long time ago and predicted Jordin would win.  I think she'll be another Clarkson and Underwood in terms of commercial sales.  She is an incredible young girl, sweet and beautiful with one huge set of pipes!  As Randy says, she can blow!

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I tried to add the amounts I needed to what I did at 6:00 pm but it was way too thick.  Are you sure that is correct to take the firm to a batter?  Anyway, I need to refresh my firm at its regular refreshments as I don't have much left and then I'll try again tomorrow.  Meanwhile, American Idol is on...heehee.

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