The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To Simple Starter Questions

gerryp123's picture

To Simple Starter Questions

1 - When bread recipes call for starter they often do not mention the ratio of flour:water that made up the starter.  Does it matter, so long as the starter is vigorous and healthy?

2 - Does the type of flour (APF, WWF, Rye, etc) in the starter make much difference in the baked bread?  Might have some (small) effect on bread flavor but does it affect the quality of the bake?

williampp's picture

Hi gerryp123, My answer to your first question. I just ran a recipe through my spreadsheet, with a 100% starter the hydration comes out at 68%, and a 70% starter hydration is 64%. That is using the starter at 24%, that is 24 grams of starter to every 100 grams of flour. When sharing a recipe we should include enough information so the bread can be made exactly the same. So my thoughts are the 4% in not going to make a major difference. From reading forum sights, it would seem to me that most starters are made at 100%. So when the ratio is not included use 100%. Hope this helps.


Evrenbingol's picture

When you say starter , are you talking about the starter that builds the levain before each bake. 
or are you talking about the levain itself.

Assume you are saying

25g starter + 100 g water + 100 flour = Wet Levain. This gives more lactic flavors,(not true if you dont feed it for more then 16 hours)  Yields more if you baking in a production setting. More enzymes since there is more water ,there for more activity. Read about protease and amylase. 

25 starter + 50g water + 100 flour = Stiff Levain,, This fives more acetic flavors.  You might use it for richer doughs to include more acidic flavors . Also you might not want to add water to the formula since most of its hydration might come from eggs or other wet stuff. 

If you are talking about starter itself.  You want more water to get it going for the same reason I mentioned before. More water means more activity. 

I suggest you use rye flour to start your starter because it has pentosans and bacteria loves it. Ones you see activity you can slowly switch the half bread and half whole wheat. But try to keep the hydration around 100-120%