The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Now what , Stiff Starter

PetraR's picture

Now what , Stiff Starter

I took the plunge and converted 50g Sourdough starter to a Stiff Starter.

50g Starter-100gFlour-50g Water.

It was so strange to knead it and have a * dough * starter, but it did rise great, it grew bigger than my 100% hydration Starter.

Now I took 100g of it and added 200g of Flour and 100g Water for my loaf tomorrow.

* not sure I need that much but I wanted to be sure I have enough *

I fed 50g Starter again with 100g Flour and 50g Water for next time baking.


Now, how the heck do I mix the stiff starter into the flour and such...

With the 100% hydration Starter it is easy, I put the starter amount in the bowl, add the Water I want to use for the loaf, mix and adde the flour.

How do I do that with the Stiff Starter. 

Rip the amount I need in pieces and just crumble it into the flour and than add the water?


golgi70's picture

Do you mix by hand or with a mixer?  When I mix by hand I've done a few things.

 I'll autolyse the dough and then break the stiff starter up in to small pieces and scatter about and then mix in squeezing through the dough (I usually hold back some water from my autolyse for this and the salt incorporation).

 I have also taken some of the held back water and worked it into the stiff starter to soften and then add to autolyse and proceed.  

With a mixer you would add chunks and have no problem incorporating but I'm not sure whether its important to not dilute the starter so to speak.  

When i autolyse with the levain I'll actually mix it into the water first and break it up to a slurry.  I've had success with all of the above.  


PetraR's picture

I do mix by hand:)

I shall try your tips. 

Even though I baked MANY breads with my 100% hydration Sourdough Starter, this is new, but also exiting.

Today I had trouble getting the stiff starter out of the jar for feeding.

I now sprayed the jar with oil before putting the fed Starter back in. * Hope that was ok *

I think I shall get a bowl with a lid rather than using the Jar.

I need to read up on propper fedding a stiff starter and storing. 

golgi70's picture

Just to not have that in your culture.  Just be sure to have a bit extra.  My stiff starter is at 66% hydration and is part Whole Wheat.  When it's peaked it loosens up a bit and a stiff spatula will help scrape out the contianer.  I use cambro style containers as they are easy to clean and then i don't have to worry bout broken glass.  

As for proper feeding.  How do you currently maintain your liquid starter?  


PetraR's picture

Question, my Stiff Starter right now is fed with 50g of Starter 100g of Flour and 50g of Water, is that a 50% hydration?

Those numbers do confuse me all theh time. pffft lol

What are cambro Style containers? I am in the Uk by the way so we might not have those.


My 100% Hydration Starter lives in the Fridge.

I take him out the Day before Baking * in the Morning of the day before baking * so that I can feed him 2x before baking.

Once when he is out of the fridge and wamed up in the Morning, then second time in the Evening before I go to bed and he is ready for baking the next Morning.

When I am not baking for a couple of weeks or so, I feed him once a week.

I feed the 100% hydration one at a 1:1:1 ratio.

dabrownman's picture

Mine is 66% hydration and all whole rye.  I might use 10 g of it to make a 125 g levain at 100% hydration over 3 builds.  I only keep 125 g od rye starter at set in teh fridge.  I've never tried to chuck a couple hundred grams of stiff starter into anything either.  Good luck with that.  But I think I know how to do it.

I would skip the autolyse and use the dough water to thin out the stiff starter first and then add the now liquid starter to the dough flour for mixing and development.  That would make it easy enough.  You should have some very sour bread when you are done using that much stiff starter.

Happy baking 

PetraR's picture

This is so new to me with the stiff starter, so , I do not really know what I am doing right now.

I have a whole Rye Starter at 133 % hydration which is wonderful, I have my Wheat starter at 100% hydration which is wonderful and now I give the stiff Starter a go, but how much I need or not, I have no idea.

I was looking at an Italian Video reg. Stiff Sourdough Starter  at youtube, she sais that one needs 30% of stiff starter for the amount of all the Ingredients in the Dough. hmmm


Janetcook's picture

HERE is a link to txfarmer's blogs. She is a member here who frequently uses a stiff starter with her whole wheat loaves.  If you follow one of her formulas/recipe and her method of baking it will give you a good idea of how much to use and how long the final dough will take to ferment.  She writes very explicit instructions so you will know what to expect.  

 Good Luck and Have Fun!


P.S.  When I first started using SD I kept a lot of starters in my refrigerator too.  I learned a lot from each of them but ultimately I got rid of them all except for my firm whole wheat starter.  If I need a 100% HL starter or a rye sour I simply take a bit of my ww starter and convert it over a few feedings.  Much less maintenance and more room in my refrigerator too.

ExperimentalBaker's picture

Hi Janet,

I read your previous exchanges regarding the desem starter. Are you still keeping it?




Janetcook's picture


My starter is not a desem starter as described in Laurel Robertson's Bread Book.  It is a whole wheat starter made with freshly ground flour and the HL varies between 70% and 80% depending on the season.  (Note that a starter made with whole grains is going to be stiffer than one made with AP or BF at those HL.)  I also feed mine with yeast water to keep it on the sweet side.


19ch65's picture

Apologies for my ignorance, but what is a stiff starter? I guess it might have to do with a "levain chef", but would like to be sure.

As for "levain chef", normally I just add 50g flour (bise claire, bise foncé, paysanne claire) and slightly less water, say 40-45g, and back in the refrigerator.


ElPanadero's picture

I began maintenance of a stiff starter in order to try my hand a pannetones.   When I refreshed it I simply massaged the starter in the water first and then added flour to re-make it into a dough.  In reality I was making an Italian "Levito Naturale".    The process of keeping the mix at lower hydration, and always out at room temp has an impact on the pH level and the mix of yeasts and labs and thus the overall flavour.  Resident pannetone expert here mwilson will be able to give you all sorts of tips towards keeping a Levito and what changes to expect.

GL with it.

biondanonima's picture

How long do you want your bulk ferment and final proofing to take?  That will help you determine how much starter to use.  In the loaf I just baked, I used 60g of 50% starter (which contained 40g of flour and 20g of water) and added 360g of flour and 280g of water (for a total of 400g flour and 300g water in the final loaf).  I let that bulk ferment overnight (about 12-13 hours total) and then gave it another 4 hours for a final proof after shaping (all of this was at 74-75 degrees F or so).  If you want it to ferment/proof faster than that, you'd want to use more starter. 

As far as incorporating the starter, I didn't have much of a problem.  I mixed the water and flour first and let it autolyse for 30-40 minutes, at which point it was quite soupy.  Then I just added the starter, torn up into small pieces, and squished it in with my hands, along with some salt.  It didn't fully incorporate right away, but once I had let it rest for a few minutes and done a couple of stretch and folds, it blended in just fine.