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activation of new cultures

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usnbmc's picture
usnbmc

activation of new cultures

So, hello! i'm new to baking, but not cooking.

I've made a few loaves successfully of sourdough and made the leap and purchased some "exotic" strains from sourdo.com.

my question:  I do not have a proofing box.  I have no way of regulating the temp to 90 degrees.

is it okay to activate the culture and leave it in the house? A/C is set at 72 degrees.  or, should I mix it up and leave it in my garage, which can reach 85 for most of the day?

other suggestions appreciated.

 

thanks

rob

 

Ford's picture
Ford

Proofing boxes are nice, because the controlled temperature will give you a more controlled timing on the rising of your dough and to some extent the acidity of the sourdough.  However, it is not a necessary piece of equipment for bread baking.  You judge the amount of rising by observation and by the poke test, not by the clock.  Let the dough tell you when it is ready.  The sourdough will rise at temperatures between 40° F and 85°F.

Ford

Ford's picture
Ford

 

usnbmc's picture
usnbmc

Thank you Ford! by the way, "Poke test"?

Rob

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Dust your finger with some flour and poke the dough, if it springs back it needs some more time, you want to make sure the dent you made won't spring back.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

However, it needs to be said, that there actually should be some (just a little) spring back! If the dent you make just sits there completely caved in and doesn't spring back in the least, then the dough is over-proofed! Rather than being a 0/1 affair, there is a range, and somewhere on the long side of that range, but not at the end of it, is the ideal place to be. Lots of times the advice I've seen given is that if there is any question about doneness, being a little short of fully proofed is better than being over-proofed. The reason is that we want it to rise in the oven anyway. If it's over-proofed, it won't, or at least not as much.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Ok:)

I had no problem going by this so far and I baked a lot of breads by now who have fantastic Oven Spring.

I do not poke the dough very deep in , just give it a poke and if the dent stays like that it works for me.

 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Petra,

I wasn't trying to argue with what you said, just adding a bit more info for those (like the O.P.) that don't know about this. If the way you do it is working for you, then it's right, of course. Since it hasn't been that long ago that I started baking, I remember how it is to not know these things. When you know nothing, you have to learn everything, and for me it has always been the more info the better.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I know you where not trying to argue:)

You are of cours right, when one is new to Bread Baking it is better to have a more detailed explanation, after a while you go by feel and you know when it is right.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

David is correct in that every explanation of the poke test I've seen says the goal is to have it spring back slowly and impartially, with the idea being that you want enough stretch left in the gluten to account for oven spring.

That said, levain breads might behave differently. Ken Forkish notes for his Overnight Country Blonde that by a poke test, it looks ready to bake after 3 hours final proof, but he finds 4 hours better, even though you might think it would be overproofed by then. Hamelman also says it can be difficult to determine the "perfect degree of proofing in naturally leavened breads", but that they should "feel light, somewhat loose, somewhat weak."

For myself, I have been judging my levain breads differently than my commercial yeast breads according to those standards, and it's been working for me so far, though I've misjudged on occasion.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

There was a thread here a while back where someone was trying to activate one of the sourdo.com cultures and had tried with a couple of their cultures already and just couldn't get it. As it turns out, the sourdo.com cultures are not a sourdough culture as we know it. They are a precise mix of individual strains of whatever is in them that will make them a culture in due time. The difference is like the difference between a cake batter and the ingredients needed to make the cake batter. A normal sourdough culture is like the cake batter. Everything needed for the culture to thrive is already in there. In order to keep it going, you simply continue adding flour, water, and time. The sourdo.com cultures are like a boxed cake mix. Everything is in the box, but it must be handled in a certain way in order to get the desired results.

The problem the other poster was having is that the culture wasn't seemingly taking, even though he was following the instructions to the letter. He finally did get it going with some helpful advice. I can't remember what the title of the post was, or I'd get a link for you. But, the high regulated temperature is apparently necessary to the procedure. If you keep it in the garage, where it "can reach 85 for most of the day" you might be close enough, but it would be more likely to work if you get to the regulated temperature the instructions call for, and keep it there for the prescribed time. Once your culture is a mature sourdough, it can take a surprising amount of abuse and neglect. Just read a few posts here on TFL, and you'll see what I mean. But, until then, it is best to do as the instructions say, if you want to have the best shot at success.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Is this the troubleshooting post you were thinking of? http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/37545/south-african-sourdough-starter-day-1

Even if it isn't, looks like a good illustration of process.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Yeah, I tried to help on that one and didn't get anywhere, because I didn't know there was a difference between natural sourdough cultures and what sourdo.com sells. But, in the end, mariana got TorontoFlour to a point of success. Anyway, I was just referencing this older post for the sake of saying that sourdo is not sourdough until you've followed all the directions to completion! I haven't tried it myself, there may be some shortcut that can be taken, but I think following the instructions will most likely bring about the best, most consistent results!

usnbmc's picture
usnbmc

thank you all so much for the advise.

I read the above link, and so far, my starter is starting to get "smelly" and has hooch on the bottom

cheers  :)

rob