The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does the hydration of a starter actually matter?

Esopus Spitzenburg's picture
Esopus Spitzenburg

Does the hydration of a starter actually matter?

I generally keep my starter at 75% hydration, because I find it easiest to work with at that level. For most recipes which call for a specific hydration of the levain, I just adjust the hydration in the final dough accordingly. However, some recipes call for a drastically different hydration-- a real stiff starter, or a seriously liquid starter-- and for these, I have been actually making separate levains.

Is this necessary?

Let's say a recipe calls for a stiff starter at 40% hydration. If I adjust the final water amount in the dough, can I just use my 75% hydration starter? Or do stiff and liquid starters really develop different properties, which I would miss out on if I simply adjust the total water amount?

Thanks in advance for any guidance. If my question is not clear enough, please let me know.

Esopus Spitzenburg's picture
Esopus Spitzenburg

This is indeed exactly what I was looking for.

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

great question , great answer