The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mainlining starter directly to bulk ?

kendalm's picture

Mainlining starter directly to bulk ?

Sorry for the subversive reference but it had to said as I am convinced the sourdough heads are kinda hooked on the stuff ;) <- little wink to soften the blow ... Shoot! And theres another one ... Eek ! 

Ok, moving on, so here's a little sourdough batard accompanied by the usual 'yeasted' bake but, done with a twist and wondering if I have broken any cardinal rules.

Rather than preparing a levain hours in advance, i decided to mix starter directly into the dough this time (mainly due to lack,of planning).  It seems that each week at feeding time both starters (one plain ap based the other a rye) have bubbled up quite nicely in the refridgerator.  It can be pretty predictable that if I prepare a levain, that in 6 or so hours I will have a nice foamy floatable mixture.  Since I didnt really plan things out, I began to wonder why adding the starter directly to flour water and salt would not result in the multplication of yeast  ... of course it would right ? The yeast dont hold a meeting and ask if they are part of bulk fermetation or levain build, they just see starch and go to work yah ? So I am thinking that surely by morning there would have to be activity and the question really becomes is there enough activity.  Well surely as expected, having let this dough bulk ferment at around 78f, an evaluation of the dough in the am seemed good enough to shape and bake - this is the result.  Tastes good, sprung up enough, got a little bit of grigne - just wondering if Im breaking any rules here - do all y'all SD junkies ever do this and mainline starter directly to the dough ? 


Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Are recently fed and are built to the requirements of the recipe.  

But in essence a starter and a levain are both pre fermented flour and water. 

If your starter is recently fed and you aren't fussed about the flour and hydration of the starter going into the dough then fine.  

If it's been some time then to ensure success it'll need a feed. Plus a levain which is basically the start of the actual recipe balances the flavours for a specific outcome. 

kendalm's picture

And understanding your point it would be like trying thisvmethid on a rexipe calling for a liquid levain, right off the bat hydration levels all out of wack. I just read a post on yeasted breads asking about secknd rises and why its done - the OP asking why a second rise of one works. In the SD world its a similar question ablut breaking protocol. In this case I am just messing with the simple 123 formula - liquids etc are way beyond my skillset at this point and just trying to understand the stuff better .. Well that as well as trying to find something inspirational that I really want to bake and eat and its tough considering I never had much of an appreciation for sourdoufh generally speaking , if anything I am thinking more about sourdough croissants than loaves !

trailrunner's picture

between the post on no preheat of oven or pots and no pre-feeding of levain the rebels are out today! I use a triple levain for all my bakes these days. I have a durum and a rye and AYW fed with my AYW and unbleached flour. I keep them at 100% mostly. I use aprox 1/3 of each in all bakes. They stay pretty lively as I usually make too much levain when bldg for a current bake and dump the extra back into my stash in the fridge. I am very laissez faire about maintenance and hydration. on my next bake I shall try using unfed  stash and see how it goes. You are definitely correct in saying that the beasties will react favorably to food... remains to be seen how quickly. Thanks for posting. Anything to save time and trouble. c

Arjon's picture

In practice, while I've never done a side by side comparison, I haven't seen a consistent noticeable difference between this way and similar loaves made with a levain. That said, I tend to make simpler recipes than some people who post here (mostly variations of 1-2-3 with various combos of flours and/or add-ins), so YMMV.

giancaem's picture

Now, let me welcome you to the dark side! lol. I have been inoculating my doughs directly with starter for over 4 months now. It works just as well as the levain did.

When I was trying to find a way to extend my bulk fermentation times, the idea of using 10% levain popped into my head (my go to now is 12%). I decided to use the started directly since making a levain that small seemed like a waste of time. Long story short, I haven't looked back since.

Oh, and you want to know a little trick? If you let your starter reach its peak and then refrigerate it, you'll have a ready to go "levain" waiting in your fridge for whenever you feel like using it. Just don't let it go longer than 5 days.


kendalm's picture

Makes complete sense right ! Each week I'm looking at the starter and thinking it just took a week to mature as opposed tona few hours at room temp.  I suppose if you deal with varying hydrations (bigas and liquid levains) there's some serious science to it all but I just don't think I have it in me to be bitten by the sourdough bug.  Maybe sourdough croissants could peel my interest but as far as bread goes if it raises the dough then then it's good enough for this guy ;) 

shines's picture

I haven't posted my experiments thinking people would think them crazy!

I've gone a step further and dried my rye starter, zipped it in the blender and then stored it in the freezer. When it comes time to bake, I dissolve the frozen starter in an equal portion of water heated below 110f (100% hydration). Mix up my dough  with water hot enough to get my dough up to 85f then add the starter mix. Proof untill risen and then bake. I've had good results with my 100% rye. Of course YMMV!


kendalm's picture

One thing I have noticed, and now I am gonna sound crazy, but I always felt as though recently l 5hawed yeast has more of a lock than it did before it was frozen.  It may be entirely my imagination but since I work mostly with fresh yeast  (whodj I absolutely love) I get it in pound blocks, cut away a quarter and freeze the remainder.  The fresh stuff always seems a tad weaker. Its almost as though they wake up from hibernation and get excited to be living again.  With that said it makes complete sense that a sourdough stArter could be frozen and awoken from hibernation too.  Why not ?  Yeast is just amazing stuff no matter how you look at it and I am glad my novice questions are coaxing a few mad bakers from their dark laboratories.  Don't worry your secrets are safe here !