The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The float test

Donna Wilson's picture
Donna Wilson

The float test

I’ve used 20g starter, 50g water & 50g whole wheat flour to make my leaven. After 5 hours this is what it looks like (see photo). I thought it “looked” good enough to use, but it sunk like a rock. Can I still you it? It it too young? 

Thanks for your help! 

Bread1965's picture

Yes! Once you've got a double in height I'd use it. If your starter is really active you might even get an increase of 3x your original amount. And you can control your timing of use by adding more or less to the original starter amount. You did 1:2.5:2.5.. You would have gotten to the same height faster by feeding your 20g with 20g of water and 20g of flour - or 1:1:1.  Happy baking..

Edit: don't stress over the float test. Your picture shows lots of bubbles. And also once your starter is at 2x or 3x you have probably 30/60 minutes of time to use it..

LAB Dabbler's picture
LAB Dabbler

Its probably Leuconostoc bacteria. Producing gas and picked up by the flour. I see this with every culture I start. Its not the culture, its the flour bacteria in an environment without acids produced by the lactobacillus. What does it smell like? Use pineapple juice for pure cultures. I hate leuconostoc, why not select it out.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The float test is very hard to perform without deflating the dab of starter. So it often sinks.  If the starter is 100% hydration it is also likely to sink.  I don't use the test with wet starters, now if the starter is more dough like, it may float.  Then again, it may not. No tests are 100% perfect.  Don't fret about it.  Go ahead and use the starter. :)