The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter Help

Riley's picture
Riley

Starter Help

Beginner here.   I received a starter from KAF.  Following their directions I am  maintaining my starter at a 1:1:1 ratio by gram weight.  I feed KAF all purpose every 12 hours and keep at 73 degrees day and night.  I am using their starter plus commercial yeast type  KAF recipes and will soon graduate to KAF starter only sourdough recipes.  How do I go to a 1:2:2 starter that seems to be more the standard in other bread books I’ve recently started reading.   Can I just go with 113 grams of starter and do 226 each of flour and water for a few days and call it done or do I need some other calculation to bring it up to a 1:2:2.  

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

Most recipes don’t specify how you build your starter. So as long as your starter isn’t smelling like acetone and seems to be doing what you want it to, how you feed it is up to you.

A lot of us just make a very thick starter and keep it in the fridge. When we want to bake, we take a bit of that and feed it a few times before baking, building up with each feed until we have enough to bake with. That way, we aren’t throwing away flour. 

The one thing to focus on though is the hydration of you starter. In your above example, you are dealing with a 100% hydration starter which is what most recipes call for. If they call for something different, just add or deduct water until you get the hydration needed. No need to start all over again. Your starter is quite flexible!

Riley's picture
Riley

Great, no starting over.   I’ve had my starter about two weeks so I thought maybe I should be strengthening it by feeding it carefully  twice a day.  I plan to refrigerate soon.  I have a Beranbaum book  I might move to since she does a lot of hand holding in her recipes and uses a stiff starter with instructions on how to convert a liquid starter.  I’ll just convert half so I have a backup. I also have a Forkish book and a Hamelman on order just to help me  gain understanding.  I’m a ways from attempting their recipes.   Thanks so much for your explanation.  

Riley's picture
Riley

Hmm might be rethinking this.  The Beranbaum stiff starter advises kneading, oiling the container, and topping the starter with oil.  I’ve not seen this anywhere else.  It’s plenty stiff.   Oiling? I’ve held back a container of 1:1:1 as my backup.  Does anyone else use such a stiff starter?   I added 120 grams of flour to my 240 grams of 1:1:1 starter.  My mad scientist neighbor who is three months ahead of me and making nice loaves is laughing at all this fidgeting around.  He’s a Reinhart guy.  

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

And since you have that, go ahead and have fun with the other part! Personally, I haven’t ever heard of using oil to keep a starter but why not. If it works for you, you might like that better than your 1:1:1. 

You will find that as time goes by, you will see that well established starters are quite resilient creatures. I used to measure everything, discard faithfully and look for places to keep my starter at the right temperature. Now I jump dump enough bran or whatever kind of flour I have on hand to keep my starter in the fridge nice and thick. I have no idea what the hydration is. And I feed it only when the amount starts getting low. As long as those beasties have enough food to keep going, it doesn’t matter what the hydration is. Remember that I take a small bit and build from there, and then the hydration matters. 

Riley's picture
Riley

That is really good advice.  I have been overly protective of my little KAF starter.  If I don’t stop fiddling with starters I’ll never get my loaf making off the ground.   I see what you mean about the building process.  I want to start out with the right hydration so maybe I should just build one to specs and go for it.  My thought was to do the stiff one so I could do baby steps with Beranbaum but the oil thing was kind of off putting and made me think this was pretty antique info.  Maybe I have too many books too early, kind of daunting.  This stiff blob  minus the oil step has actually doubled in two hours.  Seems hopeful.