The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Keeping hydration with more flour to starter ratio?

Ittayd's picture

Keeping hydration with more flour to starter ratio?

TL;DR: looking for the ratio of flour:water:starter to give me 100% hydration but with more flour to starter ratio.

My bread recipe uses 100% hydration starter (or is it levain? - whatever you put in with water and flour when you make the bread). My schedule is to let the starter double over night so I can start making the bread in the morning. Since the weather is warming up, I want o give my starter more flour to chew on through the night. The question is what should be the ratio of water. If I use 2:2:1 (1 being the starter), then that isn't 100% hydration, right? (assuming 100% hydration means 30% of the total weight, so with 2:2:1, water is 40% or 33% more than with 1:1:1).

Hanzosbm's picture

Yes, a 2:2:1 starter would still be 100% hydration.  You're overthinking it.  100% hydration means that you have as much water as you do flour, or a 50/50 mix.  If your starter is 100% hydration, then it is 50/50, if you add equal parts water and flour, it's still going to be 50/50.

DanAyo's picture

Your goal is the double (or greater) your starter or Levain in 12 hours (over night). You will need to experiment in order to answer that.

The normal way to describe the make up of your starter on this site is, for example 1:2:3. That indicates 1 part starter + 2 parts water + 3 parts flour. In your case you want your hydration to be 100% hydration. So a 1 to 1 (starter to flour) feed would be 1:1:1. Let’s say you want 30 grams, you’d mix 10g starter + 10g water + 10g flour. 100% hydration starter means that their are equal weights of flour and water in the mix.

You want the starter or Levain to grow for 12 hours. That will depend on how active your starter is. The more active your starter, the more feed it will need to sustain growth. Keep in mind, the wetter the starter, the faster it will grow. The higher the ratio of feed (flour) to starter, the longer it can continue to grow (rise). I would start out with 1:3:3 and see how that goes. The starter should have just started to recede (fall down) slightly at 12 hours when you get the feed ratio correct. It may take 1:5:5 or even more. Your goal is to get the starter to rise and then just begin to recede in the required time frame.

IMPORTANT As important as any other variable is the temperature of your starter. Warmer = faster growth; cooler = slower growth.

You will have to become familiar with your starter. That will take experimentation.


Oh, starter is your culture. It’s the seed that is used to build your Levain. The Levain is what you use in your dough to flavor and make it rise. Generally you would maintain your starter in order to build your Levain when needed. The starter is always kept for future levains. The Levain is used in the dough.