The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yeast/starter conversion?

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Llama's picture
Llama

Yeast/starter conversion?

Just getting started with sourdough.    Is there any typical formula to use if I want to try a sourdough starter in my recipes in place of cake yeast?  My starter is 100% hydrated.  How much would I use to replace an ounce of cakeyeast?

Juergen's picture
Juergen

There is no real rule of thumb, it depends very much on the shape of your starter. A very rough guidline would be 1/5th to 1/3th of total flour content. That's at least what worked for me last time I made a sourdough loaf. But ask 10 people and you'll get 10 different answers. Perhaps the best answer is to just go by what you think is reasonable and experiment from there.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

I agree with Juergen; start with 20% of the total flour weight in starter, try it out and work your way upward as desired. Anywhere up to 50% of total flour weight is typical. 

The biggest difference will be rise times, which may be wildly different, depending on how active your starter is. So if the original recipe says "let the kneaded dough rise for 1 hour", it may actually take anywhere from 1-6 hours for the same level of fermentation to happen. Let the dough be your guide. 

Is there a maximum amount of starter to use? Not really, although the typical range may be around 20-40%, there are exceptions, see this thread.

 

Juergen's picture
Juergen

Remember that the more starter you use, the more 'old' dough you incorporate in your bread and the more sour your bread will taste. I guess that is your only real limitation. Flavourwise, you can go 'over the top'. 

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

The best range for wet starters involves pre-fermenting 5 - 22.5% of the total flour.  Somewhere in the middle values produces the most desirable results according to most tasters.  For leaven building with a wet starter, I'd recommend inoculation percentages between 10 - 15% (flour-to-flour basis only), and a 10 - 12-hour rise.  Just as a side note, it's always better to keep your base starter in a lower hydration (values between 50 - 75% water), as it creates the greatest range of aromatic compounds, which can then be transferred to a wetter leaven, which will still bring all the benefits of using a 100% hydration starter while bringing the fermentation quotient more in line with a harder starter.  I would also recommend keeping your base starter in as whole a grain as possible, preferably rye or whole wheat or a mixture thereof.  Leavens can be built with flours whose extraction-rates are closer to the final loaf.  A harder starter is also easier to keep for the home baker.

Please understand the values I am recommending are based upon generating ideal conditions for sourdough-based microflora (based upon their metabolic activity, and for the most balanced, complete flavour-profile), not necessarily the "best," which should be decided by each baker.

Cheers.

 

Llama's picture
Llama

Thank you everyone.  One more question.  Let's say I need 300 grams of starter to make a dough.  Do I use 300 grams of starter right from my bowl?  If so, do I use it right after a feeding?  When it has risen 50%  When it has doubled?  When it has topped out and fallen down?  I've made 5 loaves now.  The first two were perfect and the last 3 were flat.  I'm sure it has something to do with the timing of my feedings, but I'm  wasting time and flour trying to find the right moment to use my starter.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Use the starter after feeding when it's on its way up, or just before it starts to collapse on itself. Somewhere in that time range is the optimum time to use it. 

Going out on a limb a little, I would say the earliest you want to use it is the point of doubling. Someone please correct me if that's not right. 

This does assume that your starter is well established (at least 5 days old, and being fed regularly while stored at room temps), and can at least double within 4 to 6 hours.