The Fresh Loaf

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Low-hydration (65%) starter sticky problem

Dough Hacker's picture
Dough Hacker

Low-hydration (65%) starter sticky problem

I combined 80g of 100%-hydration starter (the seed) and 21g of AP flour to make 101g of 65%-hydration starter (new starter). Of the seed starter, 62% came from a starter I started months ago; the remainder of the seed was from today's refreshing done 1 hour prior to the 65%-hydration new starter making.

After mixing the seed starter and the flour, I placed the 100g of new starter in a drinking glass. 4 hours later, it doubled in volume and started to push against the lid. I decided to transfer it to a glazed ceramic bowl. Then I decided to form it into a ball of firm sourdough (like a lievito madre) by kneading it. This is where I encountered the problem. I touched it with my dry hand and tried to perform a few folds, and the new starter just clung to my fingers. Despite me keeping on trying to fold and knead it, the new starter would not come off my fingers. I was able to lift it clean off the bowl a few times, but that was all. The strands of the new starter just would not come unstuck from my fingers or the bowl.

I have had no such sticky problems working with 65%-hydration sourdoughs (to make baguettes) that uses 20% starter. Why is this problem happening with this new starter that is also 65%-hydration?

What is left in the bowl now is less than 101g.

Abe's picture
Abe

80g of starter + 21g AP flour vs. Just 20% starter in a dough

It's sticky because a starter is normally fermented more so then a dough plus in your 65% hydrated starter you used 380% starter.

try building a 65% hydrated starter in the same way as you build a dough...

  • 10g starter
  • 32-33g water
  • 50g flour

Unless I've misunderstood you.

Dough Hacker's picture
Dough Hacker

So if I were to bulk ferment for 48 hours a 65%-hydration dough using 20% starter, would that dough get similarly sticky?

I'm thinking of trying that to achieve a good acidification so as to break down phytates in the flour to allow for better nutrient absorption in the gut. (I would test via AP flour first before trying on wheat or whole grain flours, where phytates abound.)

Thanks.

Abe's picture
Abe

65% hydrated dough which is bulk fermented for 48 hours (at room temperature) will become goo. Even if you don't add starter the flour will begin to degrade. It's all about balance. 

Starters are acidic so will break down the phytic acid and make it more digestible. To further improve the bread you can add in an autolyse. This is when you mix just the flour and water without the salt or starter and allow it to rest. For bread flour anything from 20 minutes to 1 hour is fine and wholegrain can go longer. But again not to be over done. 

Dough Hacker's picture
Dough Hacker

How long would you say it would take to turn the dough into goo under refrigeration?

Thanks for all the insight.

Abe's picture
Abe

Hydration, starter %, temperature, etc...

A very vague answer would be 24-48 hours for the bulk ferment and 12-24 hours for the final proof. You'll want to do one or the other in fridge and you'd have to factor how far along the ferment is when it goes into the fridge. You also still need to have some structure to the dough so it wouldn't be advisable taking it down to last possible minute. 

If you're interested in a well fermented and tasty sourdough with a recipe that takes the ferment to it's outer limits then do a search for Teresa Greenway's San Francisco Sourdough. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

behaved more like "silly putty" only sticky and also pools into a puddle with no firm shape?

sounds like you're dealing with... pesky thiol compounds

Also to convert a liquid starter to a firm one requires days, about three, to make the transition smoothly.  Not so in making a firm starter more liquid. 

Dough Hacker's picture
Dough Hacker

I was expecting the new starter to be firm because it was only 65% hydrated. Instead, it came out like sticky slime--like thick honey. This is at 4-hours old, using seed starter that had its beginnings months ago.

The next morning (12 hours later), I peeked into the bowl and saw that it had doubled in volume. 9 hours after that, it was just as inflated. So is that symptomatic of thiols?

I spooned it out onto a skillet, and I saw lots of voids (bubble cavities). I pan-fried it with some butter and spring onions to make a savory pancake (which was the whole goal of this experiment from the beginning--a "quick" way to make good use of excess starter). It wasn't very chewy--less chewy than the crumb of a 65%-hydrated sourdough baguette that uses 9% preferment at 100% hydration (i.e., consisting of 20% starter that is 100%-hydrated).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18144/sourdough-loosing-elasticity-please-help#comment-121566

If you site search:   pesky thiol

you can see other posts that have baffled and befuddled and make your own comparisons.  Good news is... it can be cured!  Yay!  :)

It might also be easier to start over making the firm starter, start slowly reducing the water of a healthy 100% hydration starter with each normal feeding giving the starter the chance to peak out before reducing and thickening the next feed.