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Sourdough Culture Built Up...What Now?

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RainsOfCastamere's picture
RainsOfCastamere

Sourdough Culture Built Up...What Now?

So I decided to venture into something I haven't really done before and start my own sourdough culture. I've built up what I believe to be a decent liquid-levain starter as in accordance to Hamelman's Bread. Now that I have it, however, I'm a little confused as to what to do with it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I need to sort of "prime" the sourdough (similar to how pre-ferments are handled) before I can form the final dough. Most of his recipes call for about an ounce. When I bake, should I discard a little bit more (up to half) and add equal parts flour/water? What should the feeding schedule look like for someone who doesn't intend on making sourdough all the time? He goes through an example schedule in the book, but it seems odd. What tips do you have for the uninitiated?

Any response would be great. Thanks all. 

Ford's picture
Ford

1/  The starter should be active when you make the "levain Build" (page 153).  To do this feed the starter in the ratio (by weight) of starter:flour:water::1:1:1 and wait until the starter has doubled in bulk.   Then make the "levain build".

2 & 3/  Discard starter to keep the amount on hand to a manageable quanity.  I normally store only about 4 oz. (weight) in the refrigerator.  I then bring it out the day before I make bread, refresh it in the ratios above, and let it ferment for about 6 to 10 hours at room temperature. Refresh again (save some in the refrigerator) and ferment for another 6 to 10 hours.  Then I and the starter are ready to make bread on the second day.

Ford

RainsOfCastamere's picture
RainsOfCastamere

Just to perhaps disperse any confusion, this is how I thought of approaching it. 

1. Take it out of refrigeration.

2. Discard about half of the current starter.

3. Refresh what was discarded via a 1:1 flour/water mixture (so 2:1:1 starter/flour/water?)

4. Let stand till doubled

5. Remove what is needed  for the build (and perhaps bin until half is left). Refresh what was used/discarded under the same ratios and refrigerate.

6. Make the build and let stand overnight for the final dough in the 'morrow. 

This makes sense to me, but feel free to poke holes in my understanding. This proccess seems to be sufficient for assumedly a loaf or two a week.  

Ford's picture
Ford

1. Take it out of refrigeration.

2. Refresh both that which you wish to use now and that which you wish to save at the ratio of

           starter/flour/water = 1/1/1.

3. After there is noticeable activity (about 2 hours), place the reserved portion of the starter back into the refrigerator.

4. That which you want to use to make bread leave out for a total of 8 to 10 hours., then make your build and let stand overnight for the final dough in the morning.

Are we on the same page?  You may discard at any point any that you think is excessive.  I would recommend that you dry some of the active starter to keep as a backup in case disaster strikes.  Do this by spreading a thin layer of starter on a sheet of parchment paper and let it dry at room temperature.  Place the dried chips in a plastic bag or glass container.  These may be reactivated, later, with additional flour and water.

After you are comfortable with the process modify as suits you best.  Any way that works for you is good!

Good Luck,

Ford

 

RainsOfCastamere's picture
RainsOfCastamere

Thanks for clearing that up. I'll try this process during the weekend as I'm trying to troubleshoot an uneven oven spring (one side looks like its about to burst). Don't want to ruin my first sourdough via bad appearence. It can taste amazing, but it really irks me when the outside looks less than desired. But I'm relatively new to the game (4 months), so I still need some more practice. Hell, I'm still trying to nail a perfect baguette.

Thanks again for your assistance on this matter. 

Ford's picture
Ford

As another note to the above.  I use only "all-purpose unbleached flour" in my starter.  I see no reason for the extra gluten, since it will be destroyed during the long storage in the acid environment.

Ford