The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello just starting to play with starter in MD

carlosnyb's picture
carlosnyb

Hello just starting to play with starter in MD

I just made my first proper no-kneed sourdough bread the other day, from my own starter.  Before that I made some soft pretzels, and before that some kind of doughy blob that was satisfying but unnameable (impatience!).

So I've had fun googling and youtubing for info/answers, but wow, I need to be on a forum with fellow breadmakers.  Today is the first time I've tried to make use of refrigerated starter, yikes, after a couple hours the stuff still rather dry after feeding, makes me feel like adding water till things feel right and just guessing!  Well anyhow, I'm not afraid to experiment!  I get confused with when to use 'fed' starter or how long to wait after out of fridge and/or after feeding (or whether or not to feed), but so far I haven't had to feed the birds, so it's going great!

Happy Baking! (or Loafing, as appropriate)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...after a couple hours the stuff still rather dry after feeding, makes me feel like adding water till things feel right and just guessing!"

I would.  Add water until it looks more like toothpaste, a goop or something wet and stretchable. Mark the level after flattening out and scraping down the sides of the jar.  Cover  the jar and leave it out between 75°F - 78°F in a sheltered spot.  Let it rise until it reaches maximum height to use.    

If the starter is stable (rises and behaves predictably after feeding)  put into the fridge when it is about 1/3 or half way to peak rise level.  That will give you a good week or two in the fridge before another feeding.  If you need it sooner, say in a couple of days.  Let it rise more before chilling.

If your feed ratios are low (we're talking flour) like one to one starter weight to flour weight, you can chill after just an hour after you've seen it starting to rise.  It all has to do with predicting how soon the population of yeast (big or small) will work thru the amount of fresh flour it's been given.  The amount of water will speed or slow down the mobility of the little beasties.

So go for it!   :)

carlosnyb's picture
carlosnyb

Alright yeah I was trying to do crumpets and the recipe from hobbshousebakery and I didn't just use starter, I fed my starter and after a few hours tried to just add some honey and salt and baking powder.  Too thick.  So now it's watering down.

I didn't recall until afterwards that there was another recipe from King Arthur flour that I looked at that was just using unfed starter, that would have got me where I wanted to be.... one thing fun about sourdough is its rhythm and texture changes, if it isn't ready when I want it, well that just means I may get something pretzel-like or crackery/shortbread tonight, or have to wait till tomorrow to do something crumpety or more bready.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

feeding hasn't got enough population to build up enough gas to start rising.  Just about every 1.5 hours the yeast numbers double if warm enough.  To raise crumpets, yes, you need a peaked starter or one that is just about to peak, full of life and gas (indicator of activity.)  If your crumpet dough gets sour tasting while you wait, add in a little baking soda and hope for a quick chemical reaction to get to baking.  You will have to taste the dough, and it should be good and sour too.  The crumpets won't be sour due to the soda.  How much soda?  That depends on how much flour is in the dough.

carlosnyb's picture
carlosnyb

ok so wound up with something like pancakes, no loss!  I think I understand now that when I follow a sourdough bread recipe that works, my starter has the right activity it's just that simple, and if my starter isn't where it needs to be I need to either adjust my goals or add yeast, making a note to get the starter out of the fridge and monitored a bit longer, fed or whatever.

Earlier this week I just improvised based on feel and got rather decent results despite not being a stickler for weights/volumes.  Of course there were imperfections but it was in the right direction.  I saw a youtube where someone made sourdough loaf by feel/texture, I can see how you could get a feel for it, maybe have a better intuition how to adjust baking time/temp for a dough with a given feel and size.  I like to learn a bit from partly successful experiments or utter failures, when first getting a feel for things.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

We tend to learn that way naturally.   Basically the only difference between a starter and the dough, is size and a few added ingredients.   The patterns are the same, timing will vary, and so will the water content.  Getting to know your starter is the best place to start.  Sourdough starters can overproof but sourdough dough gets baked before it ferments too long and turns into a big starter. Way over-proofed starters turn into beer.  :)

Keep a sample of your starter in the fridge while you play around with some of it.  Adding flour and water in steps yields a less sour tasting bread and you can literally add as long as you like and play until the dough over-proofs and turns into a large starter (which won't rise much without the addition of more fresh flour.) With a lot of patience, you will find the working window for making bread and baking it before the gluten matrix starts to tear and fall apart.   Adding a little salt along the way helps the protein hold together (I always think of them as little molecules holding hands) and gives long strong bonding for the gluten to resist long fermentation.  Taste the dough to get the correct salt content.  Sourdoughs do take longer to ferment so any ingredient that gives you a longer working window while the yeast are populating the dough can be helpful.

If you don't have one, I would still suggest getting a kitchen scale.  That way you can get familiar with it on your own time.  A scale does make repeating a success loaf more successful.   It also makes it easier to figure the amount of salt to use.  (My main reason for using one.) 

Mini

carlosnyb's picture
carlosnyb

This is good, it helps me understand a bit of what I'm playing with.  Tonight it was some salty flatbread (used the rong bowl! ah that wasn't watered down enough!), and the intended dough for a nice loaf is resting.  Will have to get a scale soon, as I see I'm starting to get a small handful of recipe type favorites and I'm sure I'll want to tweak things and get consistency.

Beth Brady's picture
Beth Brady

Hi there, I started baking bread a few weeks ago after being fed up with paying for "Bread" at the grocer and it had NO flavor. As a former New Yorker, I was used to bread that was crusty on the outside and full of soft cotton texture inside. I  have lived in MD now for 20 years and for some reason I said,"I am gonna do this myself because it has to be better than what I have been buying." I started with Julia Childs French Bread lesson on Youtube, I used KA bread flour (even though she says not to) and it was better than anything in the grocer but not quite the bread I have eaten in New York or Paris. I found this site and I am thrilled to read that Flour is a big deal! So I am ordering French Flour tonight and will check in my results! I am so jazzed about the idea of being a person that bakes bread and with a bread maker! ANy tips for this greeny would be welcomed and tried!

 

Beth Brady's picture
Beth Brady

Hi there, I started baking bread a few weeks ago after being fed up with paying for "Bread" at the grocer and it had NO flavor. As a former New Yorker, I was used to bread that was crusty on the outside and full of soft cotton texture inside. I  have lived in MD now for 20 years and for some reason I said,"I am gonna do this myself because it has to be better than what I have been buying." I started with Julia Childs French Bread lesson on Youtube, I used KA bread flour (even though she says not to) and it was better than anything in the grocer but not quite the bread I have eaten in New York or Paris. I found this site and I am thrilled to read that Flour is a big deal! So I am ordering French Flour tonight and will check in my results! I am so jazzed about the idea of being a person that bakes bread and with a bread maker! ANy tips for this greeny would be welcomed and tried!

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And a big welcome to TFL!

Before you make the next loaf, measure out the ingredients, then  stir up a dough using about 1/4 of the flour, water, salt and half the yeast to make a soft dough. Cover. Let it ferment for an hour or so, knock it down and let sit out a few more hours before using or chill overnight and use in the next 3 days.  Leave plenty of headspace in the container, enough for it to triple.  

When you want to mix up the dough (warm up a few hours if cold) knock it down and cut or tear up into the liquids.  Combine with the rest of the ingredients to make a smooth elastic dough.  Then continue with the recipe as written.  

This  method is referred to as using a pre-ferment (or pate fermente) and it works quite well to bring out flavours hidden in the flour. 

Congratulations on your first loaf!    I love that video!

carlosnyb's picture
carlosnyb

Beth you made me think back to a couple decades ago I tried to make some bread recipes from a basic cook book, probably Betty Crocker, some of it was ok, a few years later I got a bread machine and had some fun and made pizza dough a lot, but just recently my mom told me about her friend's French bread recipe, how it sat all night and was really simple, it got me going again, but this time with a different mindset.  I love the way some of these recipes sit for a long time to develop flavor, and the time the bread sits does a LOT of work on the development of the dough, simplifying a number of steps (if we want things more simple), and then if we want to add some complications we can try some folds here or an extra ferment in the fridge to see what we get.  LOTS of fun.