The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Seed ratio for a 75% hydration starter

Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Seed ratio for a 75% hydration starter

I was wondering about what ratio to feed my starter...so far, I've gone on observation, and settled on something, but I think I've got way too high of a seed ratio: 100% flour 75% starter 75% water (i.e. 75% hydration). This is for a 14 hour (approx.) period. Then, for the next 10 hours, I feed a 100% seed portion, and 75% water.

Is there a recommended seed to flour/water ratio for a 75% hydration starter?

Thanks!

ps- I'm new here. Can't wait to ask and answer questions, if I have the ability to do so. I've been helping develop a bread program at work, and it's been a fun challenge. While not originally a baker, but a cook by trade, I have been reading and experimenting alot and am finding the experience very rewarding.

Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Also, how does one know when the starter is at it's peak of activity? Or the range of it's activity? Is there an observation or rule of thumb one can apply to a starter of any type to determine this? (Not refering to the float test, but something that would indicate the strength of the starter). I know my starter is active and the feeding schedule is working out so far, but I don't feel I know it intimately enough, if you know what I mean!

Thanks!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Welcome to TFL, Jellatine!

I have not kept a 75% starter, but here are some guidelines that might help (from the San Francisco Baking Institute):

For a firm starter

Flour 100%

Water 50%

Starter 50%

Feed every 12 hours

For a liquid starter

Flour 100%

Water 100%

Starter 40%

Feed every 12 hours

Both starters are kept at room temperature. Both are fed with a mix of 75% AP and 25% WW. This routine assumes you are baking 6 days each week. If you bake one or two days per week, there are some other options, so you don't have to discard levain.

You will find some formulas call for a liquid levain and some call for a firm levain. Also, the final levain that gets mixed in the dough often calls for 5% or so of rye flour. 

When is a starter "ripe?" For a firm starter, it should have doubled or tripled in volume and have a domed top. If it starts to recede, it has passed its peak of activity.  For a liquid starter, the surface should be bubbly and wrinkled. Again, if it has receded, it's past its prime.

Now, just how ripe you want your starter depends on the flavor profile you want in your bread. For example, Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco wants to limit sour tang. He uses a liquid levain that has not fermented up to its peak of activity.

If you are just starting out in sourdough baking, there is a ton to learn. I would recommend buying a book written for professionals, for example, Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas. Also, try to take some workshops at KAF, a culinary institute with a strong bread program or ones sponsered by the Bread Baker's Guild of America (BBGA).

I hope this helps.

Happy baking!

David

Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Thanks! So, the seed portion for the liquid starter is less because it will propagate more quickly in a more liquid environment? I went with something in between the guidelines you gave me, and I'm sure it'll work great. For now, I am going to use the same ratios for both AM and PM feeds, despite there being a few hours difference (i.e. not an equal 12/12).

This is my second time working with sourdough in a commercial kitchen, and I've read a couple of books over the years. Just read the Tartine cookbook and loved it.  Also studying Carol Field's Italian Baker (as I am producing breads for an Italian bakery). Since I started this job, some of the things I had learned previously about how doughs react to various factors are slowly coming back to me. I'm working on perfecting 6 doughs (not all of which are sourdoughs), and I'm sure to have more questions! 12 hour days and I'm still thinking about it all at home. Quite consuming!