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Can't reproduce my initial two successes with rye starter. Help...

Morus's picture
Morus

Can't reproduce my initial two successes with rye starter. Help...

When my starter (100% hydration, wholemeal organic rye flour) was new born (about four weeks ago) my first two loaf attempts (approximately a 1:2:3 sourdough bread (30% rye, 70% wheat bread flour)) were really great in my opinion; good rise, good oven spring and nutty smell/taste (not particular sour - as I like it). Then the starter became real sour and lost a lot of the ability to leaven the the loaf. I tried various feeding schedules, keep in fridge, keep in a warm location (about 26 degrees) etc. to try reproduce the initial two successes. 

I read up some on Yeast/LAB preconditions (ie Debra Wink on this forum) and to try promote Yeast (over LAB) and since about two weeks I now do feedings about 1:1:1 every twelve hours. I'm always keeping the starter in room temp (22 C) and I bake about every second day (the same formula - approximately a 1:2:3 sourdough bread (30% rye, 70% wheat bread flour)). I have gotten some rise/spring back and I have got rid of some of the very sour taste. The delicious nutty smell/taste is completely gone.

 

 1. How do I improve the leavening power of my starter? (I noticed that I don't seem to be able to double the starter after feedings. I get about 80%. Should I be able to get doubling with my 100% hydration rye starter, or is doubling more expected to get with a stiff starter or a wheat starter?)

2. How can I more reduce the sour taste? (I know I can try using more starter in the formula, but I would prefer working with trying to reduce the sourness of my starter itself.)

3. How do I get back the delicious nutty smell/taste?

 

Thanks :-)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

feed the starter a feed ratio of 1:4:4?   How long does it take to peak?  

Morus's picture
Morus

When I was struggling a couple of weeks ago, I did a few 1:2:2. But can't say for sure what the effect was... I was a bit messy in the beginning. I'm new to this (I'm trying to keep records though).

Can I expect more Yeast (over LAB) if I try 1:4:4? (I expect it will take longer time to peak).

About 8h I'd say.

 

 

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Morus, as Mini said 1:4:4 will sweeten the starter. You may also want to add mostly or all white flour to your mix. Increasing the temp to 80F will also speed the rise, allowing it to be refreshed more often. Above all, don’t allow your starter to fall too much, if at all. Shortly after the starter recedes, the LAB begin to increase their ratio of LAB to yeast.

If you want a bread that is not sour, rye is not your friend. Rye is one, maybe the best way to increase LAB. Whole grains have a similar affect. A super active starter and a properly fermented dough (err on the side of slightly under proofed) will produce non-sour bread. Most sourdough breads are not sour at all. According to my taste rye grain has a sour flavor, even without a sourdough starter.

The 1-2-3 formula has a good ratio (20% prefermented flour) of starter and at ~71% hydration, a slightly moist dough. It seems a good formula for your goal. Use a sweet, active starter and be sure to not over-ferment for a non-sour dough. Think about it this way, over-fermenting a dough is much the same as allowing your starter to recede too much before refreshing.

You mentioned elsewhere, the concept of increasing the percentage of starter. There are many ways to alter the sour flavor of your bread. My thoughts on the 2 extremes. High percentage of starter, especially if it is sour will bring a lot of acid to your dough which has a tendency to degrade the gluten. It will also drastically speed the fermentation. Ultimately, this will probably produce a dough that is weak and slack or if quickly fermented, a dough lacking in flavor. On the other hand, a tiny percentage of active starter will introduce a small amount of acid. But the fermentation time will be greatly increased. During the extended fermentation the dough will increase LAB in the same way a starter will. And then there is the affect of temperature. Cool enhances acetic (sharp, vinegary) sour where warm temps build lactic (smooth, yogurt like) sour.

Sour flavor is the holy grail. Since it is difficult/impossible (without very technical testing (TTA)) to compare without actually tasting each bread, one baker’s sour may be non-eventful to another baker.

Keep in mind, other bakers may disagree with some or all of the above. And they bake great bread! In my opinion, bread is as much art as it is science.

Danny

albacore's picture
albacore

Danny, knowing your love of sour, have you ever tried a two part levain? I'm thinking of one part built as normal, but the other part built at 150% hydration and 32C. Combine just prior to use.

Lance

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

No, I don’t think I’ve ever tried a 2 part levain. I have use a mother dough in combination with the levain. In that case the results were not impressive.

When it comes to sour flavor, in the last year and a half I have learned to bake super sour bread that favors lactic acid. I am also able to bake bread with an acetic flavor if I so choose. I am completely satisfied with my present process. And I give total credit to Teresa Greenway’s Sanfrancisco SD. 

 

Morus's picture
Morus

I tried 1:4:4 and peaking took about 8 h (the same as with 1:1:1 - that surprised me that the time to peak was about equal).

It rose about 60%. 

Since it rose less, I didn't bake with it so i don't know about taste but it smelled less sour.

Then I tried 1:2:2 at my warm 26C location (inspired from the very elaborate feeding schedule in the answer from Albacore). But that didn't increase my height either.

I'm going back to try 1:1:1 (at 22C) again every 12h, I think it had more strength then.

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with the 1:4:4 and when it peaks, repeat using this stronger more yeasty starter in another 1:4:4 feeding.  You should find that the starter will be faster to rise and with more power before the 8 hours are up with each consecutive feeding.  Be sure to let the starter reach it highest peak (and not just to double volume) before either feeding or using in a recipe.  After a few days of increasing yeast numbers,  Gradually lower the temps of the starter so that the peaking occurs in about 8 to 10 hours with a feeding at 12 hours.  

When temps fall off at night,  the yeast slow down so less food is required.  On the counter you may find yourself feeding smaller ratios at night (or even skipping night feeds) and feeding larger ratios before the the room warms up.  That is where using the refrigerator comes in storing and giving you a break once the starter is dependable.  But first build up the yeast population.  Make back up starter from a good discard.  Then feed the starter, wait for some rise and then chill for a few weeks removing small portions of the mother starter to feed and grow a significant amount of starter (levain) for bread dough.  A mother can keep for weeks in the fridge without feeding or until it gets used up or decreases in raising power.  

 

Morus's picture
Morus

Ok. Thank you. I will try again feeding 1:4:4 and with more persistence.

It's just that I got discouraged when I got less rise when I shifted to 1:4:4... But there was just one feeding so I guess I didn't give the scheme a proper chance.

 

 

albacore's picture
albacore

Good advice from Danny and concurring with my current thoughts on an active but mild starter, which is my general preference.

I keep my starter in the frij, because I only tend to bake once a week. Having previously used higher percentages of whole grain flour in it, my preference now is for only 5-10% of whole wheat or rye or a mix and the rest white bread flour; this will give you a healthy but non-acidic starter.

Also consider reducing the starter hydration to reduce acidity. 60% would be good, but, practically, it's a pain to work with, so I go for 80%.

And then there's temperature - lower levain build temperatures will give more acetic, so I ferment at 26C, but you will probably need a proofer to maintain this temperature.

Lastly, vary your build ratios, depending on the required time span. As a guide here's a table from the great Kristen @fullproofbaking:

Lance