The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% hydration of whole sourdough starter?

ron45's picture
ron45

100% hydration of whole sourdough starter?

I'm trying a sourdough starter with a combination of organic rye and organic wheat berries [gound very fine] and my well water. For convenience I decided try it with 100%, or something close to it, hydration. Are there good reasons not to do this? I just decided it would be easier measure and handle that way. It seems to be doing fine so far. Will it cause problems later when I try to follow a specific recipie that suggests a specific prrcentage of hydration? This p o v in baking is new to me but it sure seems like a better way to do things. How does the thinking or the math go when using my starter in the above situation? Thanks for any input.

Ron

JERSK's picture
JERSK

   I use a 100% hydrated starter and it works fine. You can adjust hydration when you feed it for bread making or just keep it and adjust your recipe. I've been wondering though is it really 100% hydrated? Or any other hydration level for that matter. If you add equal weights water and flour to a starter the micro-organisms it eat and multiply. So some of this is being converted into bacteria and fungii. I've just been wondering how much. Obviously it doesn't effect the bread. It's just a scientific ponderance.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Ron,

My experience is with white flour starters, but it should work about the same way. You can use a starter of any hydration in your recipe - just adjust for the water difference in your starter vs. the one specified in the recipe. If you want to make the rise times more comparable to what the recipe specifies, it helps a little to match the amount of "fermented flour" in the recipe. A 100% hydration starter has less fermented flour per unit of starter weight than a 60% starter does. You can adjust by using the ratio of "one hundred plus the hydration" for the recipe starter vs. your own. For example, if you have a 100% hydration starter, and the recipe specifies 40 grams of 60% starter, then you will need (100+100)/(100+60) or (200/160)*40 = 50 grams of your starter to match the fermented flour amounts. The extra weight is water, so you will have 10 grams (50g-40g) of extra water in your starter, and you should therefore reduce the dough water in the recipe by 10g so that the total water in the recipe is the same.

Of course, there are some differences in flavor in starter maintained habitually as firm vs. paste, but I've found in practice, as others have mentioned on TFL, that it's a fairly subtle difference in flavor. Your recipes will work fine starting from a different hydration starter. To be absolutely true to a recipe, you could convert to the hydration the recipe states and maintain it that way for a day or two or more, but I don't think it makes a lot of difference unless you are splitting hairs on the flavor differences.

The difference in rise time is not going to be much either, if you are talking about 40g vs. 50g of starter, in the case of a 60% hydration starter vs. a 100% hydration starter. So, in practice you can pretty much just ignore the difference in hydration if you want, and just be aware that the recipe will need to rise for a few minutes longer (literally minutes, less than 1/2 hour for almost any recipe) with the 100% hydration starter vs. a firm starter. However, I would always adjust for the water difference if the starter is a larger proportion of the final dough recipe.

One last point is that the earlier you convert, the more true you can be to a recipe. So, if a recipe has an intermediate build or levain, it makes sense to build that levain at the hydration specified using a small amount of your starter, and then proceed with the recipe exactly as specified, since your levain will have the desired hydration and ripeness called for in the recipe. For example, if the recipe has an intermediate build that is a firm "levain" weighing 160 grams at 60% hydration, which then goes into a dough made with 900g of flour and 740g of water and 20g of salt to make a final dough with 80% overall hydration and total flour of 1kg with 2% salt, then you could build that levain by using 20g of your 100% starter mixed with 90g of flour and 50g of water. That way, the levain is much as intended by the recipe, even if started from a 100% hydration starter, while the author may have been using a firm starter.

Bill

ron45's picture
ron45

Thank you both for the reply. Bill bless you for the explanation about the math part. My algebra teacher had green teeth and breath that would stop a clock. So you thorough explanation is a big help and just what I was after.

Jersk that's a good point. I think by weight its not a significant amount. But I think we carry a few lbs. of non human critters in our digestive tract.

Ron
Peace Love....Dough