The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Am I on the right track?

sshand's picture
sshand

Am I on the right track?

I'm about two and a half weeks in on my starter. I followed: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-starter-recipe. I had rapid rising and bubbling on the second day, but after that there has been almost no rising. The bubbling had stopped almost completely (maybe 2-5 bubbles on the surface at a time) until i changed from tap water to filtered fridge water. I just warm the water slightly in the microwave. Now I see lots of bubbles, but i still can't seem to make a completely naturally yeasted bread. It has to be supplemented with a pinch of dry yeast. I followed this recipe 2 days ago: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/extra-tangy-sourdough-bread-recipe. The bread came out flat and dense. The starter itself doesn't smell all that sour. It has more of like a paste scent.

The picture posted is approximately 14hrs after my last feeding. When feeding, I mix up whatever starter is in the jar and pour 113g of starter into a large bowl. To the starter in the bowl, I add 113g of ap flour: https://shop.kingarthurflour.com/items/king-arthur-unbleached-all-purpose-flour-5-lb, and 113g filtered fridge water that is microwaved to 80°F (room-temp bottled spring water if I'm lazy). I discard the rest of starter in jar. Then I wash and dry the jar before scraping the fed starter back into it.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

If you can put your starter somewhere it is warm (less than 82F) you should see the starter come to life. It looks viable to me.

  • do you have a warm spot on top of your hot water heater
  • what about on the top and near the back of your refrigerator 
  • maybe in your oven with the door craCked open and the light left on. (Crack oven door because it will probably get too hot without it)
  • if you happen to have a sous vide you could set it for 82F and float your starter in the warm water

Also, you really don’t need to keep such a large starter. Remember King Arthur sells flour :-) 

You may want to give this a try. Take 10 grams from your present matured starter, add 8 grams of good water and 10 grams of flour. If you have it use whole grain flour, if not all purpose is fine. Sing less water will cause the starter to rise more, giving you a better visual indicator of rise. Keep it warm. You can keep your original just in case.

Danny

sshand's picture
sshand

Changed to a sous vide setup as suggested. I had already fed the starter almost 5hrs ago. I read a few different sources that say you should transition to a new flour when changing the type you use. Right now I probably have 2 more feedings worth of the KA ap flour, if i continue at 1:1:1, 113g re-feeds. I am not sure if I will be able to make it to the store tomorrow or if the flour will even be in-store. If I discard all but maybe 10g of my starter, re-feed with 8g of water, 10g of flour, and continue this I'll have about 10 more days worth of flour rather than 1. I will use the discard in another recipe. I do have other flours in my pantry though: Anna Unbleached Extra Fine FlourOrganic Dark Rye Flour, and plenty of King Arthur Flour Sir Lancelot. I also have whole wheat flour, but unsure of the brand. Now, do I run the risk of killing my starter if I switch up the flour on my starter without slowly transitioning to a new flour or will it be fine? If I do need to transition to a new flour would this be fine:

Day 1, around 3:00 - 2g ww or rye/8g AP

Day 1, around 15:00 - 2g ww or rye/8g AP

Day 2, around 3:00 - 4g ww or rye/6g AP

Day 2, around 15:00 - 4g ww or rye/6g AP

Day 3, around 3:00 - 6g ww or rye/4g AP

Day 3, around 15:00 - 6g ww or rye/4g AP

Day 4, around 3:00 - 8g ww or rye/2g AP

Day 4, around 15:00 - 8g ww or rye/2g AP

Day 5, around 3:00 - 10g ww or rye

Day 5, around 15:00 - 10g ww or rye

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Use the rye flour FOR SURE. You don’t have to transition over. When you start the new starter feed it 100% rye. Keep your original starter going, just take 20 grams and start a new one.

With the sous vide, you are “golden”.

Take closeup pictures from the side of the jar and also from the top down and post them. When you notice that the starter has receded (fallen in height it’s time to re-feed, but not before. Things will start to move much faster for you now...

Tip - a black felt tipped marking pen (Marks-a-Lot) is great for marking your glass jar. It easily washes off with light scrubbing. Mark the level of the starter and on the side put the time. From time to time repeat this, continuing to mark the jar. Once the level of the starter falls below the previous mark it is time to feed. Keep track of the feed ratios, time to maturity and other pertinent information. 

Danny

sshand's picture
sshand

Thank you for all the help. I will keep you updated. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

The following is why timing the maturity of your starter is important.

As a starter matures the yeast and LAB multiple. An important goal when feeding a starter is to, at the very least, maintain the the population of the yeast and LAB proportionally to the starter before it was fed. So, 1 gram of your re-fed starter seed and 1 gram of your pre-fed starter should have at least the same amount of yeast and LAB. Ideally the re-fed matured starter would have more yeast and/or LAB. This is how to build your starter’s strength.

BUT, if you feed your starter too early, before it is matured, you are inadvertently weakening the starter. I say this because the starter has not been allowed to regain the yeast and LAB counts from the original (gram for gram).

Hypothetical - 1 gram of your original starter contains 1,000 yeast cells and 1,000 LAB cells (numbers not accurate). You remove 1 gram of your re-fed starter that is only half way matured and you re-feed it with 1 gram of water and 1 gram of flour. Since your starter was only half way matured the 1 gram of starter seed that you mixed with the 1g water + 1g flour contains only 500 yeast and 500 LAB. You have in affect diluted your starter and it is less potent than it was when it began the previous feeding. I hope this attempt to simplify the concept makes sense to you. The numbers are absolutely not accurate, but only serve to make a point.

The good news is, starters are resilient and actually pretty hard to kill. They have historically been shown to tolerate our abuse. They are the very heart and soul of sourdough breads. Thank God, they are so forgiving...

Tip -

  1. The very best way to get a starter moving is warmth. Be safe and try to stay below 82F.
  2. The second best way to get your starter moving is whole grain flour. If available Rye is very best, but whole wheat also works super well.

Dan

sshand's picture
sshand

The first two images at 14:09 were just after feeding.

Previously, I have been trying to keep up re-feeding around every 12hrs, but recently I have been giving my starter a bit more time to mature and waiting to see at least some activity before re-feeding. If I wait for rise and fall will I lose any colonies? For example if I switched to one re-feed a day, would lab/yeast colonies begin to decline in less than 24hrs?

I would prefer a visual cue since it seems more reliable. To continue the example, if 1g of starter has 1000mg lab and yeast when fully mature at lets say 16hrs, would the colonies significantly decline if I am unable to feed the starter at that time?

Also, what are the benefits of different flour type starters other than nutrient content? Is there a noticeable effect on final product such as the crumb, taste, color, etc. if a relatively significant amount of starter isn't used?  For example white bread tastes different from whole wheat or another kind of bread. In order to raise a bread you would need at least 15% starter to the weight of the entire dough. How similar would a bread made with 100g bread flour, 68g water, 3.7g salt, and 30g of rye starter be to a bread made with the same ratios of ingredients but a different type of starter?  I have read somewhere that some french breads are made with 2% of the flour being rye because the texture and flavor benefits. Something to do with breaking down of starches to sugars, leading to greater yeast activity and a more tender bread. Would a rye starter do the same when mixed into a dough?

sshand's picture
sshand

3:00 (almost 13hrs later)

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Your starter is looking good!

” would the colonies significantly decline if I am unable to feed the starter at that time(speaking of maturity)?” It is commonly thought that, if your starter is not re-fed for many hours after it has matured that the population of LAB will begin to dominate the yeast. The end result would be a more sour starter with less yeast.

There are many ways to adjust the time duration to maturity.  

Use THIS LINK to explore the available information concerning all things related to starters on this forum.

sshand's picture
sshand

I let these grow at room temp. Pictures taken approximately 7-8 hrs difference. Left to right: ap, rye, ap/rye and the starter in plastic quart container is also ap/rye which I made to use in King Arthur Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread. The smaller ap/rye blend grew and receded in that time. Would these be considered 'strong' sourdoughs starters? 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I think any of those starters will raise your breads. I was surprised to see that the ap/rye grew the fastest. I would have thought the rye would have been the quickest.

Your starters are healthy. Pick the best one and bake some bread. Remember to post the pictures.

sshand's picture
sshand

Not the prettiest, but I'm getting there :) The first bread (ap starter in bread flour dough) is a little underdone in terms of color. After seeing how much the second one (ap/rye starter in bread flour dough) expanded during proofing I realized I could have let the first one proof for longer. All in all, I am pretty happy with the results. I just need to practice now. Thank you for all your help!

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

It looks like your starters are up for the task. The crumb is open, which speaks well for your starter.

Here are a couple of breads that have consistently produced excellent results.
Kristen’s Basic Open Crumb SD
1-2-3 Sourdough

Post your bakes with plenty of images. We are here to help.