The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Never made sourdough before, trying for whole-wheat

VonildaBakesBread's picture
VonildaBakesBread

Never made sourdough before, trying for whole-wheat

So...I bought some AP starter from the baker across the street. :) I want to switch it to whole wheat. She said, just feed it every day. 100 g starter, 100 g ww flour, 100 g water. Day one: the starter rose more than double then sank. Day two: doubled perfectly. Days three and four: It rose fine, by about a fifth to a fourth. She suggested I only feed 50 g flour and 50 g water. Day five: same, only sour-ish smell. Day six: per my baker friend, I fed it 50 g AP and 50 g water, and it was not good. barely rose. Day seven: scraped off the hard-ish "top" and fed 100 g starter with 100 g white flour and 100 g water. HAPPY DAY! But not whole grain. And the top half of it had very few yeasty bubbles. It did double, but sank a bit. Can anyone give me a good idea how to switch from white starter to whole grain? 

Blessings,

Voni

derekj's picture
derekj

You should not have any problem going from AP to WW. Just don’t let the starter deflate. Feed it again while it is at its most vigorous. The more starter relative to flour, the quicker the yeast will use up the new flour. Also, you don’t have to waste so much flour. Try using 25 grams starter to 50 grams flour  - 100% WW is fine - to 50 grams water. As soon as it doubles and is bubbly, repeat. When it is reliably doubling after the same time at the same temperature, cover it and put it in the fridge. It will survive in the fridge for weeks. A few days before you want to bake, revive it, again using 25 grams starter, 50 grams flour, 50 grams water, repeating without letting it deflate until it is reliably doubling. Then do a double batch. When this has doubled, put half in the fridge for next time, and use as much of the rest as you need to make the starter for your recipe, using the same 1 2 2 ratio of starter to flour to water.

I am sure this is not the only possible method to manage your starter, but it works fine for me.

VonildaBakesBread's picture
VonildaBakesBread

...feed it in the morning when I can keep my eye on it! :) So ready to try some baking. This is making sense. There’s only two of us, so definitely putting it in the fridge once it’s consistent, like you said. Good idea about less flour! I’m concerned what to do if it doesn’t double, though. We’ll see! Thanks for the answer!!

 

derekj's picture
derekj

It will eventually double on a predictable cycle, if you keep feeding it just before it starts to deflate. If it has become degraded because you waited too long to feed it, or it spent too long in the fridge, it might take a couple of cycles to get it to puff up consistently again. But it will. The issue is not the WW flour. WW flour does not retard yeast development in the starter, in fact the opposite. My starter has survived a few episodes of shameful abuse, revived each time over several feeding cycles with whole WW and sometimes whole rye flour. These have more natural yeast on them than AP and therefore help to shorten the convalescence period.

The idea is to get to a feeding cycle that produces vigorous starter at the time you want to make your dough. Say you are going for a 45 minute autolyse, a 3-4 hour bulk rise, and a final proof overnight in the fridge, If your starter is in perfect condition by around 3.00, you can get the shaped loaves in the fridge by 8.00 or 9.00. So you need to do the last feeding the right number of hours before, not so long before that it has deflated, and not so soon that it has not yet fully developed. 

Temperature obviously makes a difference to timing this. If it is cold you can speed things up by adding a bit more starter to each feeding cycle or by keeping It in a warmer spot, maybe the oven with the light on. I have a proofer, which makes it easy.  It is cold now, so provided my starter has not spent too long in the fridge, I do the first cycle overnight on the counter. Early in the morning it is still nice and active, and then it goes in the proofer at around 80 degrees for four hours, then the levain for the bake goes in the proofer for another four hours, by when it is ready to use. This leaves enough time to complete everything except the final proofing at a reasonable time. In hot weather you can slow things down by doing the converse. At 80 degrees using the 1 2 2 ratio, the interval between feedings is around four hours, not once a day.

After playing around a bit, using the variables available to you, you will get a feel for how your starter behaves in your environment, and can plan accordingly. 

 

VonildaBakesBread's picture
VonildaBakesBread

Thanks! My baker friend across the street makes good bread, but is scared of whole wheat. She won't even make yeasted whole wheat. Her explanation was that whole wheat is hard to digest for yeast, as well as for us. Which drove me here for advice. Thanks for your help! Yes. Pacing is going to be hard for me to learn, lol. I fed last night and at 2 AM I crept down to peek, and it was doubled. Probably shoulda just fed it, but it was 2AM. This morning it is tripled, starting to sink, so I guess I should feed it. Is there any way to tell it is done rising and needs to be fed? Just the doubled size?

derekj's picture
derekj

Take out a teaspoon full and see if it floats in water. 

derekj's picture
derekj

Just to be clear, the feeding cycle I suggested is to get the starter ready to use for baking. You don’t have to keep doing that just to keep the starter going. For that, once a day out of the fridge would work fine, as would around once every two weeks in the fridge. The fridge obviously wastes less flour, unless you bake every couple of days.