The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to the Site After Reading for Five Years

Grahamsr's picture
Grahamsr

New to the Site After Reading for Five Years

I didn't want to jump in all at once, so I'm dipping a toe in. :)  I love the family atmosphere of this site and the wonderfully helpful posts!

I have a timing conundrum.  My starter takes about 3 to 4 hours to peak. On a weekend that's fine because I'm home all day and can easily add it to my autolysed flour and water mix.  However, if I want to bake during the week, my starter peaks before I get home from work and doesn't pass the float test.  I think I read somewhere recently that I could feed the starter the night before, let it sit out a couple hours to get bubbly, then pop it back in the fridge; then next day when I come home from work just get it out of the fridge and add what I need to my autolysed mix - - without passing the float test again - - and this would leaven my bread.  

Has anyone else heard of, witnessed, or believe this would work?  If not, is there a way to slow the starter so it peaks when I get home around 4pm?  I am gone typically from 6am to 4pm.  

Much thanks for any suggestions.  

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Graham, you could feed it, allow it to partially or fully mature and then refrigerate. But another method would be to increase the starter to flour ratio.

In order to mature (double) your starter in 4 hours what are you feeding? What type of flour(s) are you feeding? Also what is your room temperature. You could use cool water to slow the activity. Salt will also slow things down. But adjusting the ratio of starter to flour almost always provides the solution. Many things can be done to speed or retard the fermentation timing.

Lastly, most starter have not fully matured at a double rise. Many will triple or more, so you may have more time than you think.

Glad to wrote in! You are correct. We are a baking family composed of all skill levels imaginable that are dispersed the throughout the world. God Bless the Internet!

Danny

BaniJP's picture
BaniJP

You can just up the ratio. If your starter peaks within 3-4 hours, I guess you are feeding it something like a 1:1:1 ratio. Try something like 1:3:3 or even 1:4:4, depending on how active your starter is. Might need some testing.
It even works on a small scale, so for example 5 g starter, 20 g water and 20 g flour. That way you don't have to waste a lot and can adjust so that you get exactly the amount of starter you need for your breads.

You can also put it to a colder part of the house, which will slow it down a little, but not stop it.

In my case for example, I adjusted my ratios so that I have to feed it once per day when I come home from work. It's something like 1:10:10 and it's peaking in maybe 14-16 h. But I let it deflate and feed it later to reduce waste (don't worry, the starter is very alive). 

Archizoom's picture
Archizoom

It does work, I've done it a few times with good results. I prepare my levain 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, I let it sit at room temp til it less-than-doubles in size, then pop it in the refrigerator where it continues to rise albeit veeeeeery slowly. I take it out the next day and leave it on the counter until it peaks which takes anywhere between 1 to 2 hours. I've never used it straight out of the chiller but that probably works too. Still, if you can, let it come up to room temperature so the yeasts go to work straight away

Grahamsr's picture
Grahamsr

I will try each one of these approaches!  Thanks for your time and consideration!

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

I own a bakery and this is how we manage our starter. It works great. I always have active starter in the fridge ready to go. I feed starter, let it mature about 4 hours til ripe and bubbly, then stick it in the fridge until the morning (about 18 hours later). We do use our starter every day.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Thanks MichaelL, this is excellent to know. Scheduling would be much easier.

Do you allow the starter to fully mature before refrigerating, or mature only part way with the thought that fermentation will continue at a slower rate in retardation?

In your experience, is the overnight retarded starter (actively used and fed as in your case) as active as a starter that is never retarded and actively feed?

Danny

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

It’s mature enough to bake with when I put it in the fridge, but only just so, and it does mature some more in the fridge.

The starter is just as lively as a prepared levain, except it is more predictable and consistent when retarded.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Thanks Michael! This is going to be a great asset for my scheduling...

Just to confirm my understanding. The starter can be fed 2 or 3 quick feeds (4hr @ 84F) the day prior to mixing the dough. Then refrigerated (at near max) overnight and used the next day straight into the mix. NOTE - depending on the percentage of levain it could be warmed in a warm water bath before mixing. 

Does this sound correct and do you have any other suggestions?

Danny