Can a starter be used in a breadmaker?
Thank you in advance.
While there are plenty of helpful people on here that will be happy to get you pointed in the right direction, you may do well to use the search box in the top right of the page, to learn lots (and lots, and lots!) of stuff from previous posts on all of the questions you've asked here.
To cultivate a starter, the simplest way is to mix some good quality whole wheat or rye flour with an equal weight of water and let it sit for a few days. For a little more detailed instruction, check out Debra Wink's pineapple juice method (in the search box). Many people on this site swear by it. The pineapple juice isn't necessary, but it gives it a head start in at least a couple ways.
To maintain a starter, after it has been well established and stable, there are many methods, depending on your usage pattern, and life schedules. Many people here refrigerate their starter so that they feed it less often, and have less (or no) waste. But, until it is very mature, you should keep it out at room temperature and feed it every day. How much and how often to feed depends on ambient temperature, how active your starter is, and lots of other variables. However, there seems to be a consensus that somewhere around a 1:1:1 ratio of starter:flour:water by weight is at least a good amount to begin with. To avoid having oceans of starter filling up your house, you should discard all but a little each time. The best way to find the most effective feeding regime for you is to feed it some amount, like the 1:1:1 ratio, and watch it rise until it rises no more and begins to fall back. That is the best time to feed. Whatever that length of time is can be 1) your feeding schedule, if it fits your life, or 2) adjusted up or down by feeding more or less, respectively. I find that my starter likes to be fed 1:2:2 at a minimum every 12 hours, more in the summer.
To use it in breadmaking, the best way to begin is to use recipes that call for starter. But, your old bread recipes can also be converted by simply replacing some amount of flour and water with starter, and substituting the yeast with time (sourdough takes longer to rise).
To use it in a breadmaker, do the same as above, but really it may be best to begin with recipes that are written for sourdough bread in a breadmaker. That way, you will be able to see how it works differently from yeasted bread, without having to wonder if you did something wrong.
You do not need to keep a spelt starter for spelt bread, wheat for wheat, or etc. for etc. You can use the one starter for them all. Some people prefer to keep them separate, but that is definitely just a preference, unless you are working around food allergies or intolerances. Once your starter is established and stable, it can be fed with the cheapest flour you can find, to keep cost down, or it can be fed with anything you want to feed it with, as long as there is some starch in it. That can be expensive flour, cheap flour, corn starch, potato flakes, or even Cream Of Rice.
Thank you for that DavidEF. Much appreciated. Gotta a lot of reading up to do. Going to take a look through the forums and will try finding some videos too. I've learned such a lot and i've got a lot more to learn. Breadbaking has become somewhat of a new hobby of mine. There's so much more out there then just the standard wheat bread I grew up with.
It works wonderfully. My starter using this method is almost 4 yrs old and going strong. Gaaarp's method is very easy and fool proof !
Thank you so much for this. Just had a quick read through and think even I can follow this. Live the explanations and pictures. Starting mine this weekend and by next weekend here's hoping I'll be trying my first sourdough bread.
I've had better luck using white flour for starter than whole wheat flour. White wheat flour usually contains malted barley flour which helps get the right enzymes going for starter. By white flour I mean all purpose or bread flour. Unbleached flour is preferred.
No experience with spelt.
I have 3 packets of flour in the house. Spelt, Einkorn and Khorasan all wholemeal. I would do all purpose white bread flour but I don't want to purchase another packet and want to see if I can make it work with the flour I already have. I think out of those 3 Spelt is easiest to handle so I'll take a crack at it with that. Thanks for the info though. I'm in new territory. One day at a time.
I used rye to get started and filtered water. After it was 4 days my starter was very bubbly and healthy. I now feed it anything I want :) Spelt, and WW and rye , durum, and apple yeast water and whey...you name it , it has had it ! Nothing slows it down. I never bother to keep it in a warm place after feeding..it likes room temp...68. Also I only feed it once a week at most..when I am going to use it. I take out some and feed one time and we are good to go. When I am going to be gone for months, I do bicycle touring then I feed it to a bubbly state and immediately add enough flour to make a very very stiff dough and dust it heavily with flour and seal in a tight container. When I come home I take the ball of dough and place in warm water and leave over night...voila...back to normal. You will love how resilient your starter is . Oh and after it gets going well for a few weeks you never ever have to discard again. Simply use out of the original as needed and occasionally feed the original and keep it very stiff....works a charm. c
On day two. Its all very overwhelming when reading up all about it. There's so much information out there and quite daunting. When I've completed the full process and have my starter am I correct in thinking that to keep it 'alive' and not to make too much at the same time is to only feed it every time I make bread from it and to feed it in proportion to how much I take off? Otherwise keep in frdige till I'm ready to use. What to I do with the starter I take off to make a loaf of bread? Do I bake with it straight away or, because its been in the fridge, bring it to room temp in another container? Do I also feed that before I bake with it? So many questions! Anyways I'm up to day two... Was going to wait 24 hours before feeding it again but it got, what I believe is called, hooch. It bubbled a bit a few hours after day one and then the hooch formed overnight. I believe that means its 'hungry' so a few hours short if 24 I went onto day two.
Got a few days to go so we'll see. Then I'll have questions about how to adapt a recipe and how to use in a bread machine.
Some pointers for you. Firstly, don't rush and don't try to speed up this process in any way. Just allow the natural processes to run their course and don't panic.
The liquid you are seeing is not hooch at this stage. Hooch is something you get in established starters that haven't been fed enough. All you are seeing is the water element separating from the flour which means you have a wet mix. Personally, when I am creating a new starter from scratch I would be using only 60-70% water content vs flour. Just stir it back in and stay with it. The activity you saw on day one is just gas coming off. It is normal for that to disappear and for the starter to then deem a little lifeless the next couple of days. Just keep it at the right temperature and feed it according to whatever "recipe" you have chosen to use. At the moment there is a battle going on in the mix between various bacteria and organisms. The environment you create helps to favour the organisms we are looking for but it takes a few days for them to win the battle. Nothing you can do but let them battle it out. Do not be tempted at any stage to throw something else into the mix to try to speed things up, it will only make things take longer.
Once you have the starter created and active in a few days times you will have some choices to make regarding how much to keep and how often to feed it. This will depend on how often you intend to bake.
I bake about twice a week and I only keep about 60g of "mother" starter which is a tiny amount. When I am going to bake, I take out just 20g of the mother starter per loaf (depending on the recipe). I then refresh what's left. So say I bake 2 loaves, I take out 40g leaving 20g behind. To that 20g of mother starter I add 20g of flour and 20g of water which brings it back up to 60g.
The idea is to create the right balance for the way you bake. Notice that whatever I take out of the mother starter, I use for my loaves, so at no stage do I throw anything away. This prevents wastage of flour.
My mother starter lives in the fridge. If I didn't bake with it, it would need to be fed once per week to keep it going and that WOULD involve some discarding. But since I DO bake each week, the quantity that would have been discarded is used for the baking.
When you come to bake with your starter much will depend on the recipe you have chosen. You might want to start thinking what loaf you will first try to bake. There ae some good recipes here to look at :
I would personally begin with the Pain Naturel and Pain Rustique and the Wholewheat Levain. They produce good loaves. You will see that they all involve the creation of a "preferment". This is basically a small quantity of flour and water that is mixed with a little of your mother starter and then left out at room temperature overnight. The next morning that whole preferment is added to the larger quantities of flour and water (and salt) in the recipe. The 3 recipes above use about 15g-20g of starter per loaf for those preferments.
Hope that helps
For the wealth of information. To be honest I did take a whiff of what I thought was hooch but couldn't smell any alcohol. Put it down to an untrained nose in the art of sourdough. You were correct and day two the dough sort of went dormant. The gas bubbles did not appear as quickly as day one and took a few hours longer. Eventually they appeared, a few hours after that and the dough had risen by about half an inch. Now its been overnight I've seen a lot of change. It has risen by about 50% and has the characteristics gaaarp is describing in his method. Right on cue. Will not rush it, have a few more hours till next feed. Gaaarp also describes a strange smell coming from the dough around this time and not to be put off.
I bake one loaf of bread on a Sunday for the week ahead so I can take two slices into work each day. My breadmaker calls for 320g of flour, 180mls of water (but I do 240mls of water with better results). Sometimes I might do an extra loaf on a Thursday if I'm running out. Any advice around thus schedule would be great.
Going to take a look at those recipes now and plan ahead. I've only ever had sourdough bread once and it was delicious. Not many bakeries do it. In fact there aren't many bakeries as there used to be either. Its mostly supermarket. There is one called "Paul's" which is very nice, and another called "Euphorium" but I'd be pushed to think of any others. Anyways bread from the sweat of your brow tastes better.
Have a lovely weekend. I'll be back to let you know how its going.
A bit apprehensive about the smell however turned out to be not unpleasant rather 'tangy'. I'd describe it as fresh with a slight smell of natural yogurt. Seems to be doing nicely.
Abe's Sourdough Starter
Born 28th February 2014
Passed away 3rd March 2014
Did you throw it away already? It's normal for new starters to go through a period when they seem dead.
Gone dormant. Had a lot of reaction day two. Grew 50% like loads of bubbles. Now 24hrs and done nothing.
I think the normal advice in is to keep stirring it regularly and it will hopefully come to life again in a few days (please correct me if that's the wrong advice, experts :-) ). The yeast and bacteria are probably still alive and fighting it out for dominance at the moment, even if it seems like nothing's happening.
Tonight I'll stirr it and see what happens this time tomorrow.
Good. It seems SD starters all look like they are kaput on day four or five, but them spring to life after that, when the yeast becomes active/dominant. Happened to mine too but is now flourishing; I used the organic rye/pineapple juice method and it worked like a charm... in the long run.
I've used 100% spelt so far. I did hear of the pineapple juice method and actually bought some but had drunk it all by the time I started my sourdough :-o So opted for flour and water method. I'll let you all know this time tomorrow how things are faring. Thanks for all the advice.
Stir it tonight, if that is what the process calls for, and again the following night, and so on. It should really come around and then it will actually be a living sourdough culture. The early bubbles you got were most likely not from the yeasts and LABs you will end up with. Don't give up, you'll see.
And had a whiff. Doesn't smell off or bad. The slight tangy flavour I described earlier is stronger and frutier. Like a fruit yogurt. Consistency is creamy. I shall persevere. Was just a little disappointed when arriving home from work to find nothing. All when according to plan and was right on schedule till today. But it will receive the TLC it needs however long till I finally have a good sourdough starter. Renewed fervour :)
that contains wild yeast (which are different varieties than commercial baker's yeast) and lactobacillus (similar to cultures that are in yogurt). Those yeasts and lactobacillus are naturally in the wheat fields and in unbleached flour (bleached flour is bleached with chlorine or other chemicals that can kill the wild yeast and lactobacillus.). The wild yeast causes the bread to rise, but it is usually weaker than baker's yeast and takes longer to make the bread rise. The lactobacillus contribute elements to the sourdough starter that make it sour..Those wild yeasts and lactobacillus are dormant in the dry flour. You add liquid and warmth to wake them up. They break the flour down into simple sugars (like glucose and maltose), which is their food. They take a couple of weeks to fully wake up and make a starter you can bake with. It may take several months for the starter to develop a really sour flavor or it may never get really sour..Here's how I finally made homemade sourdough starter:.I have used Carl's Oregon Trail starter, it's available free by mail, for over 5-years, and it worked great, but I wanted to make my own starter..I tried several times with either whole wheat or bread flour without much success, using water or pineapple juice. The starter attempt would go nowhere, only making a few feeble bubbles, or nothing..Then, last summer, I decided to throw everything at the attempt, here's what finally worked for me: (all of these flours were just from the local supermarket) one of these flours had the "magic wild yeast" ;-) I think using flour of several types and sources increases your chances of capturing a successful sourdough culture..I called it - Kitchen Sink Sourdough Starter.1 Tbsp Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour1 Tbsp Unbleached Bread Flour1 Tbsp Unbleached All Purpose Flour1 Tbsp Hodgson Mill Organic Rye Flour3 or 4 Tbsp Pineapple Juice (unsweetened juice from canned Pineapple packed in its own juice).Mix ingredients well. The mixture should look like a thick pancake batter..The pineapple juice discourages growth of undesired bacteria cultures, which at the beginning can compete with the desired sourdough cultures - the wild yeast spores and Lactobacillus (which are naturally in the wheat fields and are in the whole wheat, rye and unbleached flour). Because pineapple juice is slightly acidic, and a slightly acidic environment discourages the undesired bacteria until the sourdough culture can get started. Once the sourdough cultures are established for a few days, the pineapple juice feedings can be replaced with tap water, as the sourdough cultures themselves create a slightly acidic environment to live in. The established sourdough cultures will discourage other bacterial growth in the sourdough starter..You can use just tap water from the beginning, instead of pineapple juice, but the first bubbling you see may be from undesired bacteria that will smell bad. After a few days the sourdough cultures will take over, but using pineapple juice speeds up the process and avoids the bad bacteria phase..Day 1 -Mixed all the ingredients in a Gladware container. Put on the lid loosely. Left out on the kitchen counter (in summertime, with air conditioning) at about 78-F. Stirred twice a day..Day 2 -Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night..Day 3 -A few bubbles appeared. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night..Day 4 -More bubbles appeared. Added an additional Tablespoon each Whole Wheat, Bread, All-Purpose, Rye Flours and some pineapple juice to moisten. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night..Day 5 -Even more bubbles appearing. Added a Tablespoon each Whole Wheat, Bread, All-Purpose, Rye Flours and pineapple juice. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night..Day 6 -Quite bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night..Day 7 -Very bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night..Day 8 -Very bubbly, fruity, yeasty smell. Added a couple of Tablespoons of only Bread Flour and tap water. Stirred mixture twice a day, once in the morning, once at night. Used some of starter to make bread. It rose quite well and made good bread, but of course it wasn't sour, because the starter was so new. But I now had my own homemade starter..If you leave the starter out, at room temperature, it needs to be fed (with flour and water) at least once a day. After a few days, you will have so much starter, you will either have to use some (in bread, pancakes, waffles, etc) or discard some..After a week or two, the starter should be strong enough to store in the fridge. When stored in the fridge, the starter should be taken out at least once a week, allowed warm to room temperature and fed. After feeding, allow the starter to get bubbly and foamy. When the bubbling process slows down after a few hours, the starter can be returned to the fridge..I stored the bubbly starter in the fridge and baked bread once or twice a week. I take out the starter, feed it and get it bubbly before using for a recipe..When making bread, you remove the starter from the fridge, feed it and allow it to become bubbly. Sourdough starter is usually added to a bread recipe (to replace baker's yeast) in a quantity of about 5% to 20%, by weight, of the total flour used. (Example, for 500 grams of flour, use 25 grams to 100 grams of starter)..The sourdough bread is slower rising and may take 4 to 12 hours or more to rise (depending on how much starter is used and how active it is.).To encourage an even more sour loaf of bread, sourdough bread can be allowed to rise in the fridge, overnight or even longer, then warmed to room temperature, allowed to rise and then baked..After a few months my sourdough starter is now developing a nice, sour taste and smell. I usually feed it bread flour and water, but once every two or three weeks, I feed some whole wheat flour and a tablespoon or two of rye flour..I've kept my sourdough starters at different degrees of thickness, from pancake batter/pour-able, to spoon-able/taffy like all the way to knead-able dough..Thicker starters can go longer in the fridge between feedings. Thin pancake batter like starters will develop an alcohol scented liquid on the top called "hooch", if not fed for a week or so..Just stir the liquid back in and feed the starter as normal. A starter kept as a knead-able dough will not usually develop "hooch"..After keeping sourdough cultures for over 5 years, I prefer to keep my starter on the thicker side, either spoon-able/taffy like or even dough like. When mixing some thick starter in a recipe, just dissolve it in the recipe water or liquids.
There is a lot more to sourdough then I thought. You've given me a wealth of information about how it all works and understanding what the process is doing. I've started on one method, just flour and water, and i'll persevere however long it takes. Today i've changed one thing... I realised that starting this process over the weekend my room was much warmer then through the week. When i'm at work I keep the heating off and the window open, to air out the room, and in the evening i'll only put it on till I go to bed. So it's much warmer at the weekend then through the week. Hence, a few bubbles in the evening and dormant by morning and back to square one by the time i come home from work. Today i have kept the window closed and kept the heating on half and hopin by the time I get home tonight we'll have some results.
I've been reading up a lot and what i've come to realise is that everyone has their own way of starting, keeping and feeding a starter. Some create a starter, take from it to bake and keep the original. I've also seen those who use up their starter but keep some behind from the dough soup they make. Recipes call for different hydration percentage starters. The list goes on.
It really is a science.
Kept my window closed and heating on all day yesterday trying to encourage the yeast to grow. Walked in my room last night and almost fainted. But nothing had changed in my starter. Stirred it up, noticed a stronger yoghurt smell and air bubbles came to the surface. Taking that as a good sign. Recovered with clingfilm which quickly steam up (another good sign?) and noticed a very slight foam around the edges after a couple of hours. Other then that nothing overnight. Left window closed and heating on again (slightly less this time) and we'll see again tonight.
It will take 7 to 8 days for your starter to develop, perhaps more. The yeasty smell tells you it's ready. You may pick up the scent of alcohol (ethanol) just before it's mature.
making sourdough starter is teaching me a lesson in patience. Perhaps the six "days" i'm following should be called "six stages". Thanks Chris319.
My sourdough starter lives. Risen about 20%. I reckon this time tomorrow I'll be able to proceed onto the next stage. Thank you all for your advice and for putting up with me.
When its risen enough the next stage is to throw away half and feed again. But tonight do I leave well alone or stirr?
I think the problem is gaaarp works in cups and I've been trying to convert to grams and mls. My sourdough starter was as runny as water nothing like his pictures. Bubbles were forming but it couldn't rise. I need another recipe I can understand.
Give it a look. Just flour and water and time. Easy to follow.
I'm incoporating and taking advice from many methods and using what will work for me. I'm basically doing this method but tweaking it according to how much time I have to spend on it. After a few days the feeding needs to be done more often which I canot do but I'll persevere this time. I'm sticking to equal weight of flour and water as this seems to be working.
Actually, the only thing I did differently was to stop feeding 2x a day after a few days because I read that it helps to stick to single feedings until you have a doubling. And, at that point, I stuck it in the fridge where it gets fed weekly.
I think you are over thinking this, if it is too runny add more flour, the bubbles are good sign that yeast was starting to do it's thing. The wet starter will tend to go through it's stages faster but you won't see doubling in volume because it doesn't have the strength to hold the gas. Remember sourdough was made long before people could read and write, owned scales, had thermometers, refrigerators......... In my opinion people make this out to be harder than it is.
Thanks for all the advice. I have read through websites, different scales and measurements, methods etc. Now I've devised something simple which has done away with complications.
1. My plastic bowl is 45g. So I'm keeping my flour and water at 45g each. I can't do 1/4 cups and 1/8 cups too many numbers flying around. I just have to remember 45g. Easy.
2. Feed once a day or when I am able to do so. Most recipes call for twice a day but workdays will be impossible. Once a day it is. Or even a day and a half if my timetable doesn't fit.
3. Every time I feed it I will take off and discard enough sourdough to bring it back to 45g container and 45g of sourdough then feed 45g of flour and 45g of water.
4. Instead of working to a timetable I will just repeat till full sourdough is formed.
All the things I've read make it far more complicated. Add in information and steps that aren't necessary and have measurements that peculiar. What is a cup and how would one measure 1/8 of it?
Abe's way it is :)
By volume I use equal amounts of flour and water, so find a container that you can measure flour and water with. The actual amount isn't as important as the ratio. I honestly believe you gave up to early and that your starter should have been a bit firmer, I would think that in 10 days you should have a viable starter.
As all measurements are equal. I can place the whole container on the scales and know exactly where I am. I know at the end of it I'll have 100% hydration starter. The other way I kept on having to convert measurements and apparently cups are different for flour and water and even different websites converted differently. Here it's easy.
45g : 45g: 45g
Should I get a viable starter all I'll do is feed it an equal amount of flour and water max 1x a week to keep it going. At this stage it only has to be equal not necessarily 45g.
Don't even have to constantly look at instructions and conversion websutes. In my head now.
My method of using equal portions is measuring volume not weight, using equal weights of flour and water will give a different result than using equal volume measures of each.
I get a viable starter
Seems to be doing nicely. The equal volume never took off the ground but the equal weight is doing well.
Sorry for my abruptness last week. Was fustrated.
Here's hoping. Only problem will be is advice given is to feed it everytime it needs it once you get to day 4 and onwards. But I can only do once a day max. But I shall persevere.
Feeding once a day shouldn't be a problem, if you feed it at the right ratio. That ratio will depend on several factors, including ambient temperature and type of flour. For maintenance of an established starter, you can really switch to cheap, white AP flour. If you can get through the first day of "feed it everytime it needs it" and observe how long that takes, you can stretch that time out to a full day by either giving it more flour and water, or using a smaller inoculation from the starter. In other words, the bigger they are, the more they eat. There is no reason you can't tune it to your schedule.
It seems to like once every 24 hours.
I started with 45g : 45g and was thinking of keeping it that way and then halving and adding etc. However I decided that I would like to end up with more starter so after 12 hours (it had already started to bubble) I added another 45g : 45g so I had 90g each now of flour and water. That second feeding did it good and one day later it had grown by 50%. Instead of waiting till it doubled I halved it and fed it. Bubbles appeared very quickly and withing a few hours it had grown, i'd say, about 10%. Tonight i'll half and feed it again.
I suppose there are many factors from tap water to saturation ratio, temperature, type of flour etc. Instead of following a very strict schedule of not proceeding till it's doubled i'm going to be more flexible. Even if it has only grown 50% it will get a feeding. Eventually, if I keep this up, i'm hoping that in any 24hours it will always double. I think my strict shedule starved my first one. I'm playing it by ear. And if need be i can always get up 10 minutes earlier and do one in the morning too. I just need to get it off to a good start and I believe a fully fledged starter dough is hard to kill :)
Your way produces a pancake batter
My way produces a semi thick dough
I now have two going side by side. Which will reach sourdough starter first? Or at all? Gaaarps way did not produce anything. 5 days and no rise at all, just produced water. Dead after day 2.
Just a few hours short of one week and I think we have a sourdough starter. Looks good and smells alcoholic.
Just 6 hours ago i halved it (took off 90g) and fed it. This is 180g of equal parts flour and water by weight.
At the beginning this formula produced a thick paste, almost a dough. Now it is a perfect texture for a sourdough, I think. It is runny like a pancake batter even though throughout the process I have kept it 50/50.
This sourdough is 100% wholegrain and tap water. It has been fed, over the week, Spelt, Einkorn and Khorasan.
What do you think? Have I produced a viable sourdough?
Now go get baking.
The thing to remember is that over time the local wild yeasts will colonize your starter. I start out with unbleached white flour, water, a clean container, and a dish cloth over the top of the container. I find that although I bake regularly with domestic yeast, my sourdough starter turns SF Bay Area in a few days. The main thing is don't push it, don't rush it, and expect the rise to take a while. The dough should also be a bit on the damp side, not the extreme dry dough that some people make for regular bread.
I have done my first successful bake with the sourdough. Rose very nicely indeed. 100% Spelt (Or near enough as the sourdough starter is a mix). I did purely flour, water, sourdough starter and salt. Didn't put in any sugar at all. The crumb was very nice but the sourness overpowered it I think. Not a subtle flavoursome, or tangy, sourness that one expects from sourdough bread. Early days yet and i'm sure as it matures then so will the flavour.
I used 90g starter, 195 mls water, 275g flour, half a teaspoon of salt.
My usual recipe is 320g flour and 240mls water. The 90g starter is 1/6 of this recipe then I just used 45g less of flour and water each.
Produced a very soft dough, too sticky. So I added more flour while needing till I got a nice consistency. But careful not to overdo it. The most important thing at this early stage is that the starter works! Now I need to refine it.