The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rejuvenating a starter

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Rejuvenating a starter

As have many of you, I've downloaded and have been devouring Trevor Wilson's book over the last week or so. A light bulb went off early in the book when he was discussing the strength of your starter and the fact that it might have too high an acid load. My old starter was getting a little eye watering (very acetic-smelling) which was probably contributing to the slight disappointment I've had in my sourdoughs lately (a bit dense and gummy for my liking). This even though it seemed to be bubbly and floaty when used.

So I took a bit of it and divided it into two jars, and fed each one at 1:3:3 - one stone-ground whole wheat flour, the other unbleached bread flour. The first build took a while to double, but it looked fairly nice once it did (though it still smelled a little acetic). I scooped out half of each and did another 1:3:3 feed. I didn't record the timing (maybe 8 hours?) but as shown in the picture above, the starters took off! Of course, the whole wheat one didn't have anywhere near the volume of the bread flour one, but still more than doubled (the top line on the masking tape shows where this second build started). And they both smell very nice.

It's nice to know my old starter is still good, and just needed a little TLC. But just for fun, I've also started a new one using Debra Wink's Pineapple Juice formula, and named it (of course) "Piney the Younger". Still early days, so we'll see how that one goes. :)

mrjeffmccarthy's picture
mrjeffmccarthy

I had the exact same experience, and did a very similar refresh. My bread has been loving it! Fantastic book, no?

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

Try feeding with AP and if your experience is like mine, it expanded even more than the bread flour.. no idea why..

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

and it makes so much sense. My starter is more active too!  it is a great book

Leslie

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Well, my bread has been turning out MUCH better the last couple of days, using some of the techniques in the book (late folds, better starter, etc.). It's more 'proofy' as Trevor calls it, and huge oven spring in some of them.

And with all the starter I ended up with, I baked a loaf of 200% levain (now, who posted that recently? Abelbread?); in other words, 700 grams of 100% hydration starter and 350 grams of flour in the dough. I did make it very high hydration (ended up close to 80%, I think) and so I had to do rustic ciabatta style loaves, but they fairly exploded in the oven. Haven't cut into them yet so I might post later after I do that.

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Good Evening: I had post (on the same Forum as you on the "sourdough forum") questioning "how to turn dry sourdough to an active one". My problem with my sourdough starter was that it is not very active and when I bake my sourdough bread,it did not give a high oven spring and the dough (crumb) was dense.  At the moment,  I save my starter in a dry form and forgot how to hydrate them. If you read my post ( about 10 line above your post) you will see how I had struggle. At the moment even under 4 different days  feed using 30 g. Rye +10 home mill Whole wheat, there is no bubble.  Totally dead looking. I found your post gave me hope and wondering if you have buy the book "Trevor Wilson". I went online and look and his caption "Professional baker" sort of stop me. I definitely is not a Professional baker but home baker for 6 years using sourdough.  Do you think that I would understand this book and be able to use it? I am curious.   I seems to be able to produce " huge and wonderful loaf of sourdough " before but now I am unsure of myself with this "puny" starter.  Thanks.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

there is so much very practical information in it and you have been baking bread about the same length of time as I have.  It is an awesome book!!!

Have you got some dry starter saved from a different date?  this happened to me but when I repeated with a different lot, all was well.  have another go at a new refreshment.

 Leslie

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Thank you Leslie. This dry starter in about 2 months old. I will try again.

Thai chef.

 

 

doughooker's picture
doughooker

"the whole wheat one didn't have anywhere near the volume of the bread flour one"

This statement is interesting to me. Did your whole-wheat flour list malted barley flour among the ingredients?

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

No, the whole wheat flour is grown locally and then whole milled at a nearby mill. I don't think there's any amylase or malt added to it. I wouldn't have thought of putting any in a starter - do you think that would be needed?

doughooker's picture
doughooker

The difference in amylase content might explain why one is bubblier than the other.

I struggled to get a starter going with WW flour. The breakthrough came when I switched to a flour with malted barley flour added. Now I add a little diastatic malt whenever I begin a starter and it seems to help.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

flour since the bran is where much of this enzyme is found.  It is white flour where the bran has been removed that may need so malt added to it.  I'm guessing the whole wheat didn't rise as much because whole wheat bread doesn't rise as much either - the bran cuts the gluten strands in the starter.

Happy baking 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’m with DBM. Whole grain makes my starter very active. It grow aggressively. But it never rises as high or as long as AP.

Try as I may, I am unable to get WW grain or Whole Rye to cycle from feed to recede in 12 hours. No matter what I’ve tried it maxs at around 8 hrs.

Does anyone know why AP seems to work better than BF?

Dan

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I have a consistent problem with managing to use my whole grain starters (wheat, rye, kamut, whatever) at or before peak. I usually leave it too long and end up with bricks.

I think white starters increase more (not necessarily work better) than whole grain simply because of the high ratio of gluten proteins to other stuff (like bran and germ bits) that weighs it down. So it looks more active and bubbly, but doesn't necessarily have a better culture of yeast, bacteria and their by-products.

agmeneghin's picture
agmeneghin

I've had the opposite result at least with WW, when I switched from BF to WW. No matter what I do, feeding with WW has dramatically decreased the rise of my starters. I have whole organic spelt, BF and whole organic rye starters that will double in 4 hours but the WW starter takes a minimum of 16 hours. Since all my starters were started from the same rye mother I figured it was going to take time for the culture to adjust but it's been very frustrating. Any insights would be appreciated.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Agmeneghin, Are you grinding your WW at home? Maybe try a different WW. I don’t know what else to think.

Dan

agmeneghin's picture
agmeneghin

I don't grind my own flour and I use KA WW.  I reduced the hydration for the starter today and I'll see what happens. If no luck I'll try a 50/50 of rye and ww and then gradually reduced the rye. Maybe I just have picky yeast.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

If you are using KA WW that wouldn’t be the problem. It is very quality controlled.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

the best for me when it comes to rise in the starter or the bread dough.  The extra gluten makes for a stronger gluten network and ability to trap and hold the gas longer and higher.

This ended up in the wrong place for some reason. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’ve experimented quite a bit with BF and AP flour. The AP rises higher for me. But I just had a thought. Maybe the additional gluten in the BF is developing a tighter gluten matrix causing the dough to be more elastic and not rising as high. By George, maybe we’ve figured that one out. Now if I can solve the other 896 questions I have, I’ll know it all ;-)

Dan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

of SD, I get the best rise out of dough using bread flour.  If I want large holes I go with AP.  The gluten is weaker and the cells stretch easier and actually break to make the holes larger but the bread does not rise as much.  For holes and rise, I mix half and half and get half if each:-)

doughooker's picture
doughooker

We have no knowledge of how the WW flour was milled or what the falling number was. I suspect that with white flour they're watching the falling number more carefully — just a guess.

doughooker's picture
doughooker

 As an experiment, try adding 1/2 tsp of diastatic malt/malted barley flour to your starter and see if things improve.