The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do I get more yeast in my (Tartine) starter?

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

How do I get more yeast in my (Tartine) starter?

I recently made a Tartine loaf that blew me away.  They were HUGE!  Never were they that big in a year and a half of bread baking.

I don't understand what I did different ??  And how come I cant duplicate that loaf again ??  Their had to be more yeast than normal because the loaves were so big.

One thing in my notes was that the starter was 24 hours old and had a dry skin on top.............could that of been it?


phaz's picture

 anything change somewhere along the line? if using white flour to feed, try adding a little whole grain flour, rye or whole wheat.  that'll perk it up a bit. 

dabrownman's picture

it would be pretty hard to get it crusty on top in 24 hours unless it was very hot.  Yeast do their very beat work at 78 F-82 F. Maybe the temperature of the kitchen was much greater?

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

I think my kitchen was about 82 degrees that day.

imaloafer's picture

Are you talking about your "starter" or your leaven? They are two different things. Your starter, if made fresh, would not be ready for use in just 24 hours normally. If you are talking about your leaven, 24 hours is a long, long time. If you are following the Tartine method, your leaven, if at room (and that temperature will vary, thus times will as well), can be ready anywhere from 3 hours to 12 hours. Mine is usually about 6-8 hours in summertime, and in winter 12 hours. We keep our place pretty cool in winter. Water temperature also plays a role, we use cool water in summer months and in winter will raise that initial temp a bit. Are you smelling the leaven, doing a float test?

The comment about adding whole wheat flour: If following the Tartine method, you should already be using a 50/50 mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour. We use Artisan Baker's Craft organic flour and Organic Whole Wheat flour from Central Milling. 

The other question I would ask, what was your proof time? Our loaves go into a fridge to retard for 10-12 hours before baking. But of course, some folks proof right after makeup, and then can be baking them in 3-4 hours time, again depending on proofing temperature.

There are so many nuances that can effect the size of the loaf, even how you handle it in make up. Soft hands are a must, with shaping in a few motions. If not, you tend to get flat or dense loaves. 

FlourChild's picture

My two cents:  Loaves made from the same formula tend to be bigger when fermentation has been managed correctly, or there is more steam in the oven, or the loaves have been handled more gently during both folds and shaping, or else the gluten structure is just right- not so much gluten developed that the dough is too elastic, but enough so that it can still hold on to all that gas created.  

How ripe the starter was should really only be a matter of taste and flavor.  If you are watching the dough for rising volume and doing the poke test, you will end up changing the fermentation times to accommodate both changes in temperature and changes in the maturity of your starter.