The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Have a look at these firm starters

kap1492's picture

Have a look at these firm starters

Decided the other day that I wanted to create a firm starter from both my white and WW 100% hydration starters. Want to see if I can get more sourness out of these firm creatures. I just started them 2/15 and have fed them twice. I plan on feeding them the same as my 100% hydration starters which is every 12hrs, is this advisable or should I feed them once a day? After feeding both of them yesterday around 1pm, the white starter tripled in size in aprox 5hrs while the WW created a dome, close to doubled in size in the same time frame as the white starter. For both firm starters and with each feeding I keep 2 oz of starter, add 1 oz of flour, and 0.5 oz of water. The white one is really sticky and almost impossible to handle without a spatula, while the WW one is very thick and can be handled with ease. It just seems that the WW is a little too firm, but I have no experience to compare it to. What I would like to know is this the appropriate ratio for a firm starer? Anything I should change or should I just keep truckin? Thanks for your comments.

cranbo's picture

My opinion is that "firm starter" is anywhere from 50-70% hydration, which means that for every 1oz flour that you feed it, you feed it anywhere between 0.5 and 0.7oz water. 

The WW will be firmer because WW flour absorbs more water than white flour does. 

I'd say everything looks good, keep on going. 

kap1492's picture

Ialso just realized that I am using Graham whole wheat flour so I guess it is going to be even more firmer. Just fed both at 10pm and they have both doubled with the white rising a bit more.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that is fine for starting up a starter but to maintain a starter, more flour is needed.  You will want to feed a starter equal or greater weight in flour.  

The way I maintain a firm starter is to at least double the volume of the starter with water and add flour to the firmness I desire.  I know that sounds rather backwards and I do it without a scales but I know that whatever flour amount I add to the water is equal to (as in 100% hydration) or more than the starter amount (if the mixed starter acts more like dough.)  That way I know the starter gets enough food.  It can be set on the scales if there is a need for exact numbers.  Not a bad idea in the beginning before getting the knack of things.

So that would be closer to 0.5 oz of starter  o.5 oz water and 1 oz flour  for a 50% hydr. firm starter.

You are also seeing evidence of gluten structure.  More in the white flour than the ww.  The white rises more because it traps more gas.  You do have to think about how you will judge the starter when it is at maximum yeast strength.  Rolling the starter in dry flour after mixing can help you to judge the expansion of the firm starter by the cracking lines that form.  Firm starters will also loose their shape, changing from a roundish ball to a sagging ball and then deflate to a puddle if left long enough to do so.  Watch the activity closely and taste your starter to follow fermentation.  Firm starters tend to ferment slower than higher hydration starters.  With a starter that is only a few days old.  I would keep feeding the wetter starters for comparison reasons and back up.  Your starters are still quite young and not stable or predictable.

Do not feed your firm starters until they are showing strong signs of fermentation.  Maximum rise for each particular flour and obvious over-proofing indicators of gluten breakdown and dough degeneration.   You can always cut into them or fork them apart and stick them back together to see what is going on inside the starters.  Use your starters at peak for recipes but let them ferment a little longer before a maintenance feed.