The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Refresh Starter vs Not Refreshed

Carb Addict's picture
Carb Addict

Refresh Starter vs Not Refreshed

Hope I make sense asking this.

Typically I read to take some starter out of the fridge, then feed it and let it develop for 12- 24 hours on the counter before adding it to the remainder of ingredients.

So I'm wondering, why not just take the starter out of the fridge and add it to all the other ingredients right away. Let it rest for an hour then do some S&Fs at intervals. Then just shove in the fridge overnight to preferment, then shape the next day, proof, and bake.

My thought is, instead if feeding the cold starter and letting it stand till it doubles .... feed the starter, the amount of flour, H2O and salt called for in the recipe. Isn't that feeding the starter too with all that flour?

With no knead breads using DIY, everything is added at once, so what is the difference if using sourdough starter the same way?

What am I missing?


Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

1: You might not keep enough starter at any one time to use straight in a recipe. Many of us just keep a starter as a seed only and might only have 100g or less at any one time.

2: Starters can be fickle things. Pre-fermenting part of a recipe, as in a levain, ensures you don't make a big amount of dough only to have it fail.

3: A starter that might have been in the fridge for a while might not produce a well balanced flavour, you might be sacrificing on leavening power and a nice crumb too. Giving it a feed ensures the flavour is not too sour and it's firing on all cylinders.

4: Your starter might be made with a different flour and to a different hydration for the recipe you're doing. So taking some starter and building it up to a different specification might be in need.

But after all that rules are basically guidelines when it comes to sourdough. If you have enough starter that is sitting in your fridge that hasn't gone for too long (within a week as a guideline) since it's last feed then by all means you can use it straight in your dough. I've done this many times when I've just refreshed my starter and sometimes have enough. Other times I can do a starter build and purposefully refrigerate it for a day or two, like retarding a dough, for more flavour. It is only when it's been over a week you really should do another refreshment.

WatertownNewbie's picture

Abe gave you a great set of points.  The two I would focus on are flavor and vigor.  The type of bateria at work will influence the flavor of your bread, and a "young" levain will have less of a sour taste than one that has sat awhile longer.  Young means that the levain has been active for perhaps six hours or so (enough to bubble or expand and show life without deflating).  As for vigor, you do need to make sure that your wee beasties are awake, and doing a levain separately is a way to ensure that,

Happy baking.