The Fresh Loaf

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Starters: batter-type and thick-type

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Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Starters: batter-type and thick-type

Any advantage to either one???  Personal preference.

golgi70's picture
golgi70

A liquid levain promotes more lactic acid than acetic and more protease (enzymatic activity for that matter) than a stiff levain.  So more of a yogurty twang and the protease adds extensibility to dough.  

A stiff starter produces more acetic acid than a liquid levain and there is less enzymatic activity as well.  With the increased acid and decreased enzymatic activity it brings more strength to a dough (elasticity).  

In the end what we seek is a balance of acids and a thriving yeast colony to raise the loaf.  So both can be used in accordance to what you are after.  

Some stand by a stiff starter being more dependable/stable than that of a liquid.   Others a liquid levain.  

I like to maintain a stiff starter but create both stiff and liquid levains for final doughs pending desired dough characteristics.  

There are many scientific minded folks on here to dig in much further but that's my simple breakdown.  

Cheers

Josh

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

I like a 'simple breakdown' but that's just me. 

I suppose I could transform a stiff starter into a liquid one simply by refreshing with water and less flour.

 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

As easy as that.  Figure out your inoculation of starter to flour and then figure the h20 needed to get to desired hydration. 

example   inoculation is 1:2 starter:flour.  turning a 60% seed into 100% hydration

20 g seed starter @ 60% hydration (12.5 flour 7.5 h20)

40 flour (total 52.5) 52.5 x 100% = 52.5 h20 needed

45 h20  

Cheers

Josh

PetraR's picture
PetraR

What ratio Flour/Water would give me a stiff Starter.

Say I have 100g Wheat Starter, how much Flour / Water would I feed to get a stiff Starter?

 

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Did you mean "...how much...to get a stiff Levain"????????????

golgi70's picture
golgi70

You can adjust to your current regime but if you feed 1:2 starter:flour and you want to turn your 100% into a 60%

100 g Wheat Starter @ 100% hyd (50 flour/50 h20)

200 flour (250 total )  250 x 60% = 150

100 h20 (150 total)

If you were to maintain it this way you'd just add 60% of the flour added and not need to figure out the levain as it will already be @ 60% hydratoin

Josh

sandydog's picture
sandydog

Bob Marley,

This topic is regularly discussed - There is no definitive answer!

See http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/38460/rye-starter-hydration for a fairly recent posting which contains info/opinion from reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy source. 

I recommend you try both (You will already have tried one of them) types of starter, with the same dough,then form your own opinion.

Happy baking,

Brian

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I keep a stiff 66% 100% rye sour starter made with some milled 100% whoile grain rye.   I turn it into what ever I need, white, whole wheat, spelt, multigrain at any hydration by adding the right amount of four and water to a small 10g seed. (6 g of flour and 4g of water)

An easy way tio fugure how much of each to add is to decide how much levain you want and what hydration you want,  If you want 125 g of 80% hydration starter then divide 125 by 1.8 (100% flour and 80% water) and you get 67.77 g or 68 g of flour less the 6 in the stater = 62 g of flour .   125 g - 68 g offlour = 57 g of water less the 4g in the starter = 53 g of water.

This way you only need one starte and can make any levin you want or need.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Good explanation, dabrownman.  Your math is clear!  8)))

As far as your levain goes, do you always use a 10g seed regardless of the overall weight of the levain??

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

to make the calculations easier!  In the summer I miught use 3 4 g of starter and in the winter I might use 20g Here is how I make a stater of various amounts and various levains at 100% hydration.

Feeding1st 1st 2nd2nd 3rd3rd  
seedflourwatertotalflourwatertotalflourwatertotalhyd
10101030202070401612665.7%
88824161656321310166.1%
6661812124224107666.7%

IF the starter fails to double 4 hours after the 2nd feeding then the 2nd feeding is tossed and repeated.  The starter is then refrigerated after it has risen 25% after the 3rd feeding.  I just leave it there taking a small amount out each week to bake with for 6 weeks and then refresh it again.   It makes more sour levain and  bread every additional week it sits in the fridge.  Her is the levain build chart.

  FirstFirst 2nd2nd 3rd3rd  Lcvain
Dough Build Build  Build Build  Build Build % of
AmountSeedFlourWaterTotalFlourWaterTotalFlourWaterTotalTotal
8003661411113622228010.0%
80048821171754333312015.0%
8006111128222272444416020.0%
8007141434282890555520025.0%
80081717413333108666624030.0%

The more levain you make for the same amount of bread will do 2 things, it will speed everything up but the more levain will keep most of teh sour,  A small about of levain will slow things down but produce the most sour.  The lower the temperature (winter) them more levain i will make for a loaf of bread.  A standard for mei n the winter is to use 16 g of seed  and the same feeding as the bottom row to get 248 g of levain in the winter.   In the summer row one a 2 work best for me in the AZ heat.

Once again the same rule applies - if it desn't double in 4 hours after the 2nd feeding then toss and repeat it.  I also retard levains for 24-48 hours after they have risen 25% after the 3rd feeding - to promote sour.  I like sour bread not the weakly sour SFSD so popular with Forkish and Tartine.  I prefer the way it used to be in the 60-70's.

 

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Okay so what I'm doing at present is to convert my starter into something resembling yours; here's my procedure to make a stiff starter at 66% hydration:

  1. 30g starter
  2. 33g water
  3. 50g rye flour

Now, even though I don't remember the exact hydration of the original starter, with enough refreshments it'll transform pretty close to a 66% hydrated starter (and not levain) down the road.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

or make a new rye stiff one   Pick one of the 3 below

Feeding1st 1st 2nd2nd 3rd3rd  
seedflourwatertotalflourwatertotalflourwatertotalhyd
10101030202070401612665.7%
88824161656321310166.1%
6661812124224107666.7%

If it doesn't double in 4 hours after the 2nd feeding then toss the 2nd feeding amounts and repeat, I would use the 10 g  seed line for the first one and then repeat it in a week until the starter is stable.

The only time you want a crust on your bread is when it is baking - never before - all it does is hinder the spring of the loaf because it can't spring where hard, .  Where did you learn this crust while proofing procedure?  I would like to check it out.   No one does that but you I'm guessing.  You may have discovered a different way to make bread !

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

I learned the dried skin while proofing serendipitously uncovered.  And when slashed, my ear rose in tall prominence and my spring like like Mt. Everest - instead of the low lying widely spread out loaf that I usually obtained with the skin moist during the proof.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

What's the objective in making your levains with three builds instead of one???

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

can be used in conjuction with controlled temperatures to create a specilaized starter for rye bread.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3FeiHQDzJOnRzlTWEpaMUtENDA/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1

or for a Desem Wheat bread

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3FeiHQDzJOnRzlTWEpaMUtENDA/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1

I mainly use it to make sure i only make the amount of levain i need for the bread I am making and to make sure that the levain is at its peak and as sour as possible before using it in the dough.  A 3 stage build makes sure the starter, levain and bread is as sour and tasty as I can make it.

 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A subject close to my heart! I abide by my firm starter. The first reply by Josh covers the main points well. However I would add that going from a wet starter to a firm one in one or two feeds is completely different from a starter continually kept firm. For instance the initial move from wet to firm you will get plenty of acetic acid because it takes time for the bacterial load to rein in. Not so much once the bacteria are conditioned to a firm dough environment.

I would argue that a firm starter offers numerous benefits. Essentially a firm starter is more controlled. A firm starter:

  • Is less susceptible to unwanted microorganisms.
  • Has less proteolytic potential
  • Has a more controlled fermentation
  • Makes a stronger dough and so more volume can be achieved

Because I use a firm starter, I never need bannetons, all my hearth loaves are freestanding, and rise vertically without and support. My doughs' never run the risk of turning into soup (proteolysis).

A firm starter is better! ;)

Michael

 

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

During the final proof, do your doughs assume a skin somewhat dry or are they sticky???

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Neither. Controlling relative humidity will determine the skin of the dough. The use of a firm or wet starter has no bearing.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

As stated in my other threads, an overnight (twelve hour minimum bulk) ferment, my proofed doughs all assumed a dry skin and produced a really nice ear and a really nice vertical oven spring.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Regardless. You're obviously not covering your dough. A drier / firmer dough will develop a crust more quickly. A crust / skin will only hinder oven spring.

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

When you say a firm starter, what hydration % do you prefer?  Is 66% firm enough?  How low can (or should) you go?  And would you consider a 100% hydration starter to be "wet" or "liquid"?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

On the basis of using strong white flour, which I use, my starter is no more than 50% hydration. I would consider 100% hydration to be wet. You shouldn't go too low as you'll likely have problems with the starter drying itself out (acid effects water absorption) which leads to doughs that are far too elastic and rigid which no amount of water can fix (over oxidized).

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

Interesting.  I keep my starter at 100%, but I have been considering experimenting.  Perhaps it's time to split it into two containers and see how the two compare after one adjusts to a lower hydration level for a while.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Currently I'm maintaining rye starter at 66% hydration and it's a bit stiff.  Been working on this for about a week.

 

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

So, I figured there was no time like the present (and I realized I hadn't fed my starter in a while), so I took it out of the fridge this morning and split it.  One jar will remain at 100% hydration (and went back into the fridge after feeding, with just about an hour at room temp), the other I fed so that it's at 66% now (1 oz. of 100% starter fed with 1 oz. of AP flour and 1/2 oz. of water).  66% seemed quite stiff as I was stirring it, but I assume it will loosen up a bit as it sits.  I'm going to keep this one at room temp for a while to let it adjust to the lower hydration, then I'll do a bake-off and see what I think!

On a related note, I decided to hydrate some Carl's Oregon Trail starter that I've had for a while as well, just so I can compare it with my own home-grown-from-rye-flour starter.  It is already starting to double (in 12 hours at 85 degrees) after just a day and a half.  Looks like I did it right!

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A mature firm starter is dough-like. You don't stir it, you knead it. And then there's no need to keep it in a jar either. I think you were only able to stir it because your starter was neglected to begin with. A neglected starter likely has experienced a proteolytic breakdown, ie. proteins are digested by enzymes, in doing so water is released, making it wetter. Make sure you feed the starter at its peak going forward.

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

Yes, it was definitely dough-like - but you're right, my starter did look a little neglected when I took it out of the fridge this morning (hangs head in shame).  Do you keep yours in the fridge for storage?  What type of vessel do you use?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

My firm starter is an Italian style starter called lievito madre (mother yeast) or pasta madre (mother dough). I don't often keep my starter in the fridge but I am currently because I'm not baking this week otherwise I usually keep it at a cool room temp (~18C) feeding every 24hrs. During these periods the madre is either wrapped in cloth and tied or submerged in cold water. There are reasons behind these methods which I won't go into now but please check out my page about it on my blog if your curious.

I prefer the in water method for refrigeration.

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

100-50 Starters Side By Side

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

Oops - this picture is supposed to go with the post below it, titled Interesting Experiment.  Same dough, same hydration, same everything except the one on the right got 50% hydration levain and the one on the left got 100% hydration starter.

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

I recently rehydrated some Carl's Oregon Trail starter and decided to keep half at 100% and half at 50%, just to see what the differences might be.  I made two batches of dough last night, each with 400g total flour, 300g total water and 10g salt.  One was leavened with 60g of my 50% starter (40g of flour for 10% of the total flour in the preferment), the other with 80g of my 100% starter (again, 40g of flour in the preferment).  The doughs were otherwise treated exactly the same - same temp water for autolyse, same number of folds, etc., and they sat next to each other on the countertop until this morning.  

I was surprised to find a HUGE difference between them this morning - the 50% is almost twice the size of the 100%.  (I'm trying to attach a pic but having trouble, will come back to add it if I can.) I put the 100% in the oven with the light on for an hour or so while I shaped the 50%, but it still didn't quite catch up.  I decided to shape it anyway, so we'll see how much longer it takes to proof than the 50% (including the hour of lag time caused by the extra bulk ferment).  I can't wait to see what the final results look like!  The 50% dough was MUCH gassier than the 100%, tons of huge bubbles, whereas the 100% seemed well-risen but a much more consistent texture throughout.

 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

That's very interesting. Twice as much rise despite using 20 g less of the 50% starter.

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

Yes, 20g less total starter but the same amount of pre-fermented flour.  The 50% loaf is about to come out of the oven, and the 100% loaf is still not fully proofed, despite the extra hour of bulk ferment and an hour of proofing on top of the hot oven.  It's close, though - should be there by the time I get the dutch oven reheated.

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

So, both loaves are finally out - see attached pic.  Again, the loaf made with 50% hydration starter is on the right, 100% on the left.  The 100% loaf had an extra hour of bulk fermenting time and nearly two extra hours of proofing time, both at higher temps.  The 50% loaf looks a tiny bit higher, but that could be due to the fact that I had a lot of trouble getting the 100% loaf out of the bowl - it stuck badly to the towel, to the point that I put the towel side down, in the hopes that the heat would sear the tears together and allow me to keep SOME surface tension.  Can't wait to see what they look like inside!

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

Here's the final test - the crumb shot!  They're pretty much identical, to my eye.  My husband and stepdaughter found the 100% loaf to be slightly more sour than the 50% loaf and preferred it slightly due to the flavor and the texture of the crust (a bit thinner/crisper).  I like both and can't tell too much of a difference between them, although I thought the 50% was a bit more sour (and I liked the slightly thicker, chewier crust).  I'm thinking the 50% starter might be good for pizza crust, to take advantage of all those huge bubbles.  Crumb shot

mixinator's picture
mixinator

The flavor difference could be due to the different preferment/proof times.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Thank you for taking the time to carry out the experiment.

Looking at the sliced loaves it's clear to see that the one made with the 50% hydration starter has a fuller shape, it's a stronger dough. There's a simple rule that professional bakers know, especially in the case of using yeasted pre-ferments but it applies even more so with sourdough, and that is; a firm starter is for boosting dough strength and a wet one is for increasing extensibility.

I would note however that the loaves are identical as you say, because you, perhaps unwittingly made them the same. I think you had a clear vision of how you wanted the end loaf to be as such. Rather than making the most of the doughs qualities.

The ideal dough should have the correct balance of elasticity and extensibility. Because the loaf made with the firm starter is stronger it could well handle more hydration and it could handle more rising before baking.

I urge you to continue using a 50% hydration starter so you can learn how best to use it.. Keep baking

regards,

Michael

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

Well, I didn't so much want the breads to turn out the same as I wanted to see how the same dough would react with two different starters.  I should have just shaped/baked them at the same time, to truly see how much difference the starter made, but the 100% loaf was just moving so much more slowly, I knew I'd end up with something inedible.  You're definitely right about the strength of the 50% dough, though - it didn't mind being manhandled and I would have had to really TRY if I wanted to de-gas it.  It reminded me of some 100% doughs I've made with added gluten, although this was made with AP flour only. 

Anyway, I loved the 50% bread and I'm definitely keeping a 50% hydration starter around for more experimenting.  Pizza dough will likely be next!

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I would love to replicate your loaf with the 50%.

Is it a 50% hydration Wheat Starter?

Could you please tell me who you get a 50% hydration wheat starter.

I feed mine at a 1:1:1 ratio.

Equal amounts of Starter,Water,Flour so that is a 100% hydration starter.

If I want a 50% hydration starter, and I have 100g of Starter, how much of what do I feed it to make it 50% hydration.

 

biondanonima's picture
biondanonima

If you have 100g of 100% hydration starter, you could simply add 50g of flour and no water - that would give you 150g of starter, 50g of which would be water and 100g of which would be flour, for 50% hydration.  Thereafter, you would just feed it twice as much flour as water, by weight, to maintain the 50% ratio.  

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Thank you so much for your quick reply.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

For a 50% hydration starter, you just need to use half as much water, at least when you're doing a regular feeding.

To create a 50% hydration from a 100% hyrdation, you'll need to do a transitional feeding to adjust things first, since there is so much water in your starter.

For the transition: (you only do this one once)

100 g starter

25 g water

100 g flour

 

For the regular feedings later:

100 g starter

50 g water

100 g flour

PetraR's picture
PetraR

... I thought it was like that but was not to sure, I thought better ask then mess up:)

Thank you.

What container would be best for such a stiff starter.

I am using a normal Canning Jar but I guess it would be difficult to take the starter out.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

The canning jar will probably work fine, as long as you have a tool small and long enough to scrape the bottom of the jar if the starter is being difficult. A spoon or small rubber spatula would probably do.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Wanted to add that you might like to put a rubber band around your canning jar so you can see your stiff starter's expansion in relation to the initial level of your freshly fed starter.

 A stiff starter will not rise like a liquid one does nor will the surface bubble.  You will get more of a domed shape.  You will know if you have let it sit too long if the dome collapses upon itself.  Your starter will also take longer to rise due to less water. 

Shouldn't be a problem getting it out of the jar.  Mine generally sticks to itself so it is easy to remove.  Some people use the 'scraps' left behind to start up another starter - just toss new flour and water into the jar - stir it up and let it sit - voila - more starter *^)

Have Fun,

Janet

mwilson's picture
mwilson

What container would be best for such a stiff starter.

A bowl with a lid would be ideal. A 50% hydration starter is just like a piece of dough.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I shall go and get a bowl with a lid tomorrow, I quite like the look of the Stiff Starter, I think it is much easier to handle.

I have my 100% hydration Starter in the fridge after feeding and the stiff one outside on my Kitchen Counter.

Since I only have the jar I sprayed some oil in to the jar to get it out because, when I wanted to get it for feeding it did not like it. pffft

Managed though. phewww

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

I strongly disagree.  Please check here especially the yeasted loaf:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/38707/yesterdays-first-sd-loaf-all-baked

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A crust, heavy skin can't expand. Your yeasted loaf, where did it expand the most? The place where you made a cut. A freshly made cut has no crust and has little resistance for expansion. Bread obviously forms a crust in baking, and that is why steam is often employed, to maximize expansion.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

then that hard skin will be brickbat like, if bricks can get that hard,  by the time it comes out of the oven:-)

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Next time I'll do better; I promise!  8)   I'll cover the dough with some plastic wrap and see what happens.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

almost everyone else does it.  You will like it Bob!

mixinator's picture
mixinator

A firm starter:

  • Is less susceptible to unwanted microorganisms.
  • Has less proteolytic potential
  • Has a more controlled fermentation
  • Makes a stronger dough and so more volume can be achieved

mwilson: May I ask the source of this information?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

yours truly.