The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How much starter for bread

Blaidzeroni's picture

How much starter for bread

what is the percentage of starter you would use on average for a regular lean dough?


the least?

the most?


i've just aquired a starter from a chef of mine and unsure on the amount compared to the flour. 

Floydm's picture

The least I've done was 1%: 10g for 1kg flour.  This was for a high hydration, long ferment (24 hour) loaf.  It actually was really really good.

The most?  I think I've gone as high as 40%, but it was pretty sluggish.  I wouldn't recommend going higher than 33%, but I'd be curious to hear what other folks here thing.

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

What do you mean by "sluggish"? 

Why would the dough ferment slower if their is more starter in it?

Thank you.

Floydm's picture

A more seasoned sourdough baker would be able to explain better than I can, but I believe if you have too much ripe starter and not enough fresh flour (food for your starter), it just won't develop and get moving completely.  

dabrownman's picture

I too have done a 1% but it took a 24 counter ferment. Normally I scale the levain at 10,15 or 20% of the total flour and water weight of the dough depending on whether it will be 12,18 or 24 hour retard using 10,15 or 20 g of stiff whole grain starter stored in the fridge for the levain.  I do up 30% if the dough will not be retarded to develop flavor and it is a one day bread - just to to bring out the sour.

I too had very good luck with 1% as Floyd did - a very tasty and sour loaf,

polo's picture
polo as low as I've gone and that was with a week long cold ferment of a pizza dough. I typically stick to about 5% for pizza dough now, again with a very long cold ferment.

 My bread recipes typically bounce around the 25% to 30% range..

cmtigger's picture

My sourdough breads are also usually 20-30% starter.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is 33%   (1:2:3  or  1 part starter to 2 parts water to 3 parts flour, all by weight)

And I often use about 10-11% in my high rye breads.

Davo's picture

If you are working on flour - and assuming the starter is 100%, then your percentage is 0.5 parts (levain flour) to 3 parts (new flour), so more like 15%.

Similar if you work on total weight: 1:2:3 is 1 part (total levain weight) to 5 (total new dough weight), or around 20% (it's different than the flour ratio because the hydration changes - if your starter was around 70% the ratios would be the same).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm sure there is enough confusion out there.  

The posted Q is:

What is the percentage of starter you would use on average for a regular lean dough?

First I had thought it was around 17% or one 1/6 of the dough weight (1+2+3=6 parts)  

but then I thought  If I weigh out my starter and it is 100g  and the flour weight is 100 x 3 or 300g, the starter is one third the flour weight.  That would be 33%  Yes it is a little wetter than an "average" lean dough but a recipe I use quite often.

So I guess if the question is more specific, I would only have to give one answer.  As Floyd answered using flour weight (10g to 1kg)  I'd thought I'd stick to that.  I also tend to start with total flour weight (as in the 1,2,3 sourdough it is half the weight of the dough.  So if I have 400g of flour to use for a dough,  33% is 132g starter and 67% is water.

Figuring from the entire weight of the dough (which the Q implies but would be awkward not knowing the flour or the hydration.)  I would take 17%    If I worked with liquid starters above 100% hydration (more water than flour weight) I might be talking 60% or more starter to flour as very little water is added to the recipe.

DoubleMerlin's picture

I like Peter Reinhart's methods of just using as much starter as you can. I've done breads that were almost 50% starter, and the only downside is a little weaker gluten than normal. Usually I stick to 30-40%. Once you add salt to the dough, the fermentation is going to slow down considerably, so you want to preferment as much as you can to get the good flavors, and then you have a fairly quick rise any way. I don't know what people are talking about, 8-hour rises with sourdough. I let the starter ferment at least 8 hours, but my breads takes less than 6, and my kitchen is typically ~60˚ F (15˚ C).

dabrownman's picture

fridge at 36 F. I'm not sure if my brad would be over proofed on the counter at 60 F in 6 hours or not since we don't bake that way but i can tell you at 20% levain the bread was over proofed in 18 ours in the fridge :-)  Now 12 hours  seems to work better .  10% levain could make it 24 hours in the fridge.  Either way brings out more sour in the bread with my SD starter than counter proofing for 6 hours and my starter has a week in fridge before it is used too.  It all depends on what kind of bread you are trying to make and your schedule.  I don't like the 12 hours retard schedule because if you want to bake at noon you have to chucking the bread in the fridge at midnight.  An 18 hour retard work better for sleeping.

Blaidzeroni's picture

this was my first post ever on the site and everyone was so helpful


thank you all. 


I have aves been sticking with a 33% but I will definitely try the Other variations.