The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Going "backwards" -- Using yeast when recipe calls for starter

mikemike's picture

Going "backwards" -- Using yeast when recipe calls for starter

Hi everyone -- I'm new to the site and fairly new to baking breads.

Because of my current situation, I'm not able to begin a wild yeast starter at the moment (but I will sometime soon) so I have a question: What should I do differently if I'm using active dry yeast in a recipe that calls for the use of a wild starter? 

Like many if you, I'm flipping through Tartine Bread and enamored by the possibility of creating such beauties on my own. I know that I probably won't be able to impart as much flavor with commercial yeast as with a wild yeast starter, but that's just what I'm going to have to deal with now. 

Robertson says to create a leaven with the starter before adding my final amount of flour and water  to the mix, then proceed with the "turns," and so-on and so-forth. Can I simply mix my total amount of flours and water together first (autolyse), then as I add my salt, also add my yeast and proceed as normal? 

I'm thinking that my bulk fermentation time would need to be much longer, but of course, I'm not totally sure. 

How would you accommodate Chad Robertson's basic country loaf recipe, requiring a starter, to something suited for commercial, active-dry yeast? 


mrfrost's picture

Make a yeasted starter(poolish, etc). Then use about another 1/4 teaspoon yeast(of course that depends on how much dough you are making) in the final dough.

I made JMonkey's Chocolate Cherry Sourdough loaf(using what I had on hand-cranberries and a few maraschino cherries), but  I used his yeasted Ciabatta Integrale methods to make it. It was delicious, and I ate the whole loaf myself, within a day. This was a couple of years ago.

My loaf (excuse the "web-cam quality"):

I've actually used this method several times in making yeasted versions of sd recipes. Of course, your timings will follow along those of the yeasted ciabatta's.

One suggestion for newcomers is to use flours that are proven to be apprpriate for making well risen, yeasted breads; namely King Arthur All Purpose(and KA whole wheat), or Gold Medal Better for Bread, etc. I typically use GMb4b as it's much less expensive, for me(but I do swear by KA WW for wheat, especially their white whole wheat).

Hopefully, you have tried, and been successful with making yeasted breads already. If you have, this method is super easy.

Good luck!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yeast recipes abound everywhere!  Most recipes call for commercial yeast.  I'm sure you can find a recipe using similar amounts of ingredients that is formulated for commercial yeast.  You may find yourself adding more liquid to a sourdough recipe and finding ways to improve flavour.

As far as adding delayed yeast and salt, I would add the yeast first so it can hydrate well, kneading to blend in the yeast and wait 5 to 10 minutes before adding the salt.  Salt also absorbs water (away from the yeast) and tightens protein bonding.  

I'm not familiar with the recipe so I cannot advise you about how much yeast to use for long ferments.  

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

your instincts are correct! try prefermenting the same amount of flour he does: ten percent but with equal parts water. add enough idy for an 8-hr rise (.25 to .33, temp depending). autolyse rest of flour and water for 30m. then add poolish, more idy (.25 should be sufficient) and salt.