The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Day 5 whole wheat starter, not sure about this.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Day 5 whole wheat starter, not sure about this.

I wanted to say thank you for the advice given me here so far, 
I am making progress but please excuse my raw amateur questions,
I have to learn somehow and I appreciate the help!
If you need help with Gumbo, Red Bean & Rice, Etoufee, things like this,
feel free to hit me up! I don't know bread but I DO know DAT!

I fed this three hours ago and stuck a sticky on the jar where the level was.
It has risen looks like 2 inches in that time. Does this look right?
So when is it ready to use?

It has bubbles in it but not the bigger ones that I have seen in some starter pics.
Also it develops layers with a darker line between them, the top seems more active
and the bottom less so, it has been consistently doing this, just wondering about that. 

Again thanks for the advice!
Benny

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Also since I posted this it has stopped and has fallen in height to almost where it was.
I stirred it, but until I feed it again, that is how it will stay, it's as if it eats is all up very quickly. 
I poured out half of it before I took the pic and tried to load it back with about the same amount
of flour and enough water to match the consistency. It seems to do great for 3/4 hours then
activity dies back down again until I feed it.

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

It looks ready to me.  Starter recipes often or usually call for 100% hydration, which falls more easily than, say 70%.  But if it has significant activity, as evidenced in the photo, there's no reason not to try building a levain with it.  If it falls, this is likely because the food supply has been exhausted, plus the high hydration.

I'd bet cash you can bake with this starter now.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

When you use it does it matter if they have been fed recently and it's rising or back down to no food?

Abe's picture
Abe

Fed and peaked. You can catch it early for a sweeter levain and more mature for extra tang. You'll get the hang of all this but for now I suggest you follow recipes.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Honestly I don't know what to think regarding recipes for this, every place I read one it's different. 
In Rhienharts book I can't even figure out what he is talking about, or else I haven't seen right page
but he calls this a seed culture that later goes into a barm if I'm not mistaken. 
I guess there are 1,000 ways to a loaf so it makes me think you have room for mistakes but 
while I don't understand what is going on as I do it, curiosity gets the best of me. 

Abe's picture
Abe

http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/sourdough-pain-naturel/

Step by step recipe and nice results. The only thing I have to say is that what they call a poolish is actually a levain. They have taken a little starter with that built a preferment to use in the recipe.

So you build the levain (or poolish as they call it in the recipe but later refer to it as the starter) and let it ferment for the recommended amount of time. Then proceed onto the main recipe. 

Most common way to keep a starter is only to keep a little at a time and build larger preferments with the specifications for the recipe. So a starter is where you store the yeasts and bacteria in a medium of flour and water. When you build a levain you're doing two things which are feeding it to make it active and at the same time building a bespoke starter for the bread you want. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Thanks I have a white flour culture started and will try that recipe with it. 
I used some of the wheat starter last night and mixed it with a couple cups WW flour and left it on the counter for 12 hours, it did rise like predicted, this morning I finished adding the other flours but the recipe (or me measuring it) missed the hydration mark by a country mile with too much water and by the time I got through compensating for it I think I overworked the dough as it is REALLY rubbery. (I guess the gluten) I still put it in the fridge for 24 hours to rise and am going to bake it tomorrow but wondered how that recipe from breadtopia could miss the mark that badly. I probably added at least another 1.5 cups to the flour to get it to firm up to tacky. I wondered if my starter is too wet. 
Wonder wonder wonder it's all a mystery to me.....

Abe's picture
Abe

Is that the starter culture one keeps isn't always made up to the specs of the levain. So starting off with a small amount of starter and giving it a big feed to another flour hydration enables one to have a one starter fits all kinda thing. So 15g of whole wheat starter fed 115g water + 115g bread flour will essentially be a white flour culture and you don't need many different starters. That's a side point.

Which breadtopia recipe were you following? And what hydration is your starter?

Volume is not accurate especially if there is a lot of starter and your starter is a different hydration to the recipe.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

I don't know what my starter hydration is but it is loose compared to the one he used in this video. 

I was really put off by trying to create that dough this morning. I've calmed down some and am going to try it again starting this evening. I guess will just start the flour mix with much less water but guessing how much, I have no clue. 

https://breadtopia.com/whole-grain-sourdough/#comment-58376

Abe's picture
Abe

But if we assume it's 100% hydration (the most common) then the final dough is a very respectable 66% hydration. You should have had no issues there.

If your starter is not 100% hydration and it is indeed more hydrated plus on top of that you're measuring in volume instead of weight then results will be further knocked off course.

Now even if your starter isn't 100% hydration but you build a levain using a very small amount of starter (as in the one I have shown you) then it won't make much difference.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Here's a simple formula for you.

  • take 20 grams of your active starter and add 40 grams of water and 40 grams of flour. Stir and let it ferment until it peaks (probably will double, if it's white flour). Note that if your starter is already at peak, you can just use 100 grams of it instead of building a separate levain
  • Stir this 100 grams of levain (you could call this a poolish, or starter; doesn't matter as long as it's an active sourdough culture!) into 200 grams of water, then add 300 grams of flour (try 50 grams of whole wheat and 250 grams of unbleached bread flour) and mix until it is shaggy and all the flour is wet.
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes, then work in 6 grams of salt
  • Develop the gluten however you like (with a mixer, slap & fold, kneading, whatever)
  • Let the dough bulk ferment until it is visibly risen and has holes in it (this is easier if you ferment it in a straight-sided clear container), doing a stretch & fold every 20 to 30 minutes for the first couple of hours. You can put it in the fridge overnight once it is visibly risen if you want or if it's convenient
  • Pre-shape, shape, proof and bake

This is called 123 sourdough (1 part 100% hydration starter, 2 parts liquid and 3 parts flour, with ~2% salt) and is a simple one for testing out your starter and your skills, as well as different flours.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Thank you I will surely give that a try!
You guys even have your own math lingo right now to me it sounds like E=McWTF????

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

So ABE, getting back to the weekend bakery recipe you showed me, I am going to try that one starting tonight. 

They also have a baguette recipe that I would like to try but they are using a tiny bit of instant yeast to make the poolish. If I wanted to change it to wild starter instead of yeast, would the amount be 45 Gr. ?

Here is the poolish on the first breat followed by the baguette poolish. So to convert it, it would be 45 g?

Abe's picture
Abe

You don't start converting until you've got the hang of sourdough with a dedicated recipe. 

Reason is that everything else in the recipe, but mainly timing, will be different when you convert to sourdough.  

I have a better idea. Follow the first recipe for baguettes as well bit shape them as baguettes instead of boules or batards.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Thanks Abe I think I will just make both of them as they are written see what happens. 
One final question. 
The poolish for the baguettes calls for .7 grams of instant yeast. 
Knowing a yeast packet has 7 grams in it I was wondering if this is a typo or it really is 1/3 teaspoon of yeast they are calling for. I appreciate the help Abe!

Abe's picture
Abe

Yes, that sounds fine. It's a long preferment and it'll develop a lot of flavour. It also improves crumb and shelf life. 

I'm looking forward to results. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Well after a day of guessing blind into the dark I managed to at least make so bread that is edible. 
The two recipes from weekend bakery and the dark whole wheat from Breadtopia. 
A first run at sourdough, I'll take it. 

Abe's picture
Abe

You've managed some very good bakes. You've gone from never doing sourdough to two in one go and on top of that some baguettes. So what's your conclusion for now? 

Don't forget your starter will continue to mature over the coming weeks. Grow in strength and flavour. You're over the difficult part now. 

How did the My Weekend Bakery one go? Did you find any difficulty and at what stage? It's good to dissect a bake as part of the learning experience. A recipe can only do so much and the rest is about getting a feel for the process. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

The white sourdough was simple to work with, it was a bit wet but it rose up just fine. 
My problem with it happened when I went to put it in my iron pot. 
I turned it over on parchment paper and when I slid it down in the pot, the 10 inch
basket I proofed it in made it too big, and it pushed the edges upward and inward caving it. 
Then the top was also so dry or tough that I could not cut it very well.
Maybe too much flour in the basket. It was so wet that I thought it would stick but the solution backfired.
The 9 inch basket I used with the other one worked great. It was the least flavorful of the lot as well. 
I think I will do it again just because, but it's not a favorite. 
The stretch and letter fold technique that was used on this and the baguettes showed me how to deal with really wet dough and I actually enjoyed making the baguettes the most because of this very wet flour and learning how to deal with it. 
They also taste the best to both of us, the sourdoughs kind of let us down flavor wise. 
I made another breadtopia that I had so much trouble with on the whole wheat, I must have measured wrong the first time, it came out real nice this time. So cooking it today after it warms up. 
At this point I'm not much impressed with the flavor from sourdough. 
The poolish I made overnight with a tiny bit of instant yeast for the baguettes was every bit as aromatic as anything else. 

Abe's picture
Abe

Were so tangy it could raise welts on your tongue. But now? Now it's by far my favourite way to make bread with Yeast Water the only thing to come close. Your starter is still very young and you'll see as it matures in the coming weeks the flavour will do so too. And don't forget that bakers yeast gives you more predictability than sourdough. So while your sourdough starter matures in the next month or two you'll be getting to know your starter. Some starters are faster than others, some are naturally more tangy, you might find that you prefer more or less starter in a bread recipe etc. You will also learn to catch your starter at different times for a different flavour profile for one that you prefer. A sweeter or a more tangy starter. Hydration will encourage acetic or lactic acid growth. Temperature it is fermented at too! So you see it is a steep learning curve and it takes time. Having said all that you might find in a few months time that you indeed prefer the taste of a yeasted bread. The acid producing bacteria in a starter, which isn't present in bakers yeast, might just not tickle your taste buds. 

May I suggest you look up Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough recipe and keep that as your go to bread to practice on. It's delicious and simple.

Abe's picture
Abe

Here is the Norwich Sourdough recipe which is based on Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough.

My recommenders build would be...

  • 34g starter
  • 170g water
  • 170g bread flour 

Total: 374g

Left to mature overnight and use 360g in the dough (starter loses weight as it ferments so build a bit extra and weigh out 360g)

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

I have been keeping the starter in the garage and it has been more like 78 to 86 through the day cycle than a steady 72 in the house. I have noticed the starter really needs to be fed twice a day at these temps to keep it going. I am going to start a rye starter today, one of my goals for the near future is to make a completely from scratch Ruben Sandwich, I can already make corned beef, Laura is learning right now to ferment the cabbage for sauerkraut and started one last night. I make the sauce from scratch, if I can get to a decent loaf of rye bread everything in the entire sandwich except the cheese with be from scratch. 
One thing I wondered about yesterday was putting additives for different flavors into the bread. I think a little onion and garlic powder would have upped all their flavors considerably. I also thought about roux. I make it for Gumbo, I have an unusual take on it in that I bake it until the right color and then I drain the oil out of the flour so it doesn't end up in my gumbo. It forms a sort of cake like consistency, it is packed with flavor but little thickening power. 
I thought it might taste nice in a bread dough. I also regularly carmelize a couple bags of onions and doing some today. Also roast garlic, these two flavors are indispensable in my kitchen, they can be used in almost anything.
Of course I am thinking of putting them in bread as well. Any ideas on this appreciated. 
This is a pic of the roux I am talking about as an additive. 

Abe's picture
Abe

Take a little starter and in another jar start feeding it whole rye flour. Voila a rye starter. Of course it's fun to make one from scratch and I have done many times but you don't have to.

The only things I put into my sourdough breads are seeds with pumpkin being my favourite. Toasts up really well. I do often make a brodoinsky bread which is a traditional russian rye sourdough which has molasses and coriander seeds. 

But many here out all sorts into their breads and I see no reason why you can't out whatever you like in it. 

That roux looks interesting. I have heard of a tangzhong which is like a roux but that's like a gelatinised flour and water mix with a consistency of porridge. Haven't seen a roux like that before. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

You would think a person would be smart enough to just put some starter in the right dough to make a new one DUH. 
That just went right over my head until you said that. hahaha sometimes I am a real dumba$$. 
You probably won't see a roux like that because I am the only person I know who does this and I know a lot of people who use it in their food. I just don't like all the oil in my gumbo so I started doing this to get it out before it was in the pot. 
Since it's made with vegetable oil the oil will not solidify in the fridge, so it's hard to get it out of gumbo once it's in. 
Animal fats come to the top and solidify and can be scooped off the next day for a clean lean gumbo stock. 
Roux has stages of cooking, it's starts out in tan color and as it gets cooked more it deepens into red and on into that color in the pic, and even further to what is know as ya-ya or almost black if you keep cooking it. 
They all have distinct flavor profiles, it can get pretty complicated if you mess with it. 
I have been a gumbo freak for 35 years and won two cook offs making it and probably cooked it 1,000 times at least. 
So I am off into way the heck out on the limb stuff with gumbo and that roux is one place where I ended up at. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

OK Abe I'm going to try that bread in the morning, your recommendation for the starter is above, 
and that fits into this ingredient list where it calls for mature 100% hydration starter, correct? Just being sure. 

Ingredients:

 

Cooking three breads at once in the rank amateur division makes you appreciate Reinhart's stage in baking,

Mise en place

Tomorrow I am absolutely doing this as well as I possibly can. 
So it's Norwich Sourdough and another round of Baguettes for tomorrow! 

Abe's picture
Abe

The recipe asks for 360g mature starter. I have recommended a levain build using a bit of your starter. It's 1:5:5 making it 100% hydration. When peaked, active and smells good it's ready to go. If you wish to make one bread then simply halve everything. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Oh and I cannot find pumpernickel rye locally only a light rye flour I trust that will be OK. 

Abe's picture
Abe

Not sure what's the difference between whole rye and pumpernickel but I'm guessing pumpernickel is whole rye and just a coarser grind. Light rye is with half the bran taken out so not quite the right flour. However it'll do the job, make a tasty rye bread and fine for taking a little off from your starter to start feeding an off-shoot starter and turning it into rye. 

Because my go-to rye bread is a Russian Borodinsky I keep my eye starter at 70% hydration which I believe is the standard for russian rye starters. I only keep one starter at the moment so when i make another type of bread I take a bit of that and feed it another flour to a different hydration - a levain! 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

KA has a pretty wide selection of rye flour, I of course look at them and know nothing except what the bag says. 

K.A. Rye Products

OK so let's see the Rooskie Rye Bread recipe please. ;-)

 

 

Abe's picture
Abe

But take a look and let me know what you think. 

https://youtu.be/ZQ_p7IihoZs

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Honestly I am surprised that this didn't happen yesterday, I knew letting that bread sit in a basket for 5 hours would moisten the wood and make a bond, but yesterday this didn't happen. Today I let the bread rise another 40 minutes and presto instant mess. I think if I try this again I will just let it sit in a warm bowl for three hours and then shape it and let it rise in the basket. 

 

Abe's picture
Abe

Or you didn't flour the banneton properly. 

Use rice flour. Nothing sticks to that.

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Yeah that Rooskie Rye is a work of art, I better stick to my crayons for awhile. 

Abe's picture
Abe

I'm reluctant to recommend a recipe I haven't tried yet but this one appears to be a good place to start especially since you haven't tried rye yet. How about you try a yeasted version and if all goes well then we'll convert it to a sourdough. 

Mister Benny's picture
Mister Benny

Yeah I was going to do that Norwich tomorrow but my starter isn't looking so great, fed this morning some activity not much. Might be too hot for it? Anyway if the poolish doesn't look right in the morning I will go at the yeast bread instead.