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starter and flavor, silverton etc...

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buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

starter and flavor, silverton etc...

One of the starters I keep is exactly as in Nancy Silverton's book.  It is 16 parts water : 11 parts flour by weight.  Nancy claims that this ratio has been worked on to give you the tastiest ratio of acetic to lactic acid, and other flavor components.

 

My starter is very healthy and works great, and is fed regularly, with some refrigeration in between.  Sometimes if it's going to go closer to a week, there is a small bit of liquid on the top.  Not a lot, usually say a teaspoon, once it was about a tablespoon.

 

I have been making a habit of pouring this off, thinking of it as "toxic waste" of the little yeasties. 

 

Then I got to wondering, am I pouring off some vinegar or something that contributes flavor?  Is it alcohol or vinegar...  Should I be stirring it in?  Is pouring off this "waste" also pouring off taste?

 

 

RodgerMissouri's picture
RodgerMissouri

I never pour it off. I believe I read that it soes have inmpact on flavor. It was refered to as "licker" back in the old days and I believe it has some alcohol content.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I like a sour bread, so I stir the hootch back into the starter as long as it has a nice, alcoholic fragrance.

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

bakerincanada

I read with interest Buns of Steel's posting.  Ihave a starter at the same hydration.  Although I did start it with a small amount of starter following Rose Levy's instructions and not Silverton's grape method.  I want to bake some bread from La brea bakery using my starter. Buns of Steel or anyone else who has a similar starter can you tell me how you maintain your starter after it is healthy?.  I have healthy starter on the counter right now which I will use tonight but probably not again until next weekend.  How much starter do you refrigerate? What do you do when you want to use it and pull it from the fridge?  Do you feed 3x per day until strong and healthy again.  (I have only been feeding 2x per day).  Do you see a significant increase in volume of starter or more the froth and bubbles when it is healthy?   Any advice would be welcomed.  I also wonder whether the taste is significantly different using this starter(166%) or should I just use 100% hydration starter and add extra water to the dough?

Bakerincanada

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

Thanks Roger and Lindy, so I will go back to stirring it in. 

 

hi bakerincanada...

I keep that starter mainly so I can make recipes from La Brea conveniently without having to do calculations or other measurements, with a similar starter to what she's using.  then I also keep the 50/50 apple starter so I have something that is easy to calculate from for other recipes, such as converting straight dough recipes to natural yeast. 

 

I did notice a difference in flavor and performance in the two starters, when I did an experiment to make the same plain white bread from each starter.  Unfortunately, LOL, I lost track of which was which, so I still don't know which starter made which bread... duh...

 

bakerincanada, never let that starter go more than a week in the fridge IMO, and let it have some remaining food when you put it in there.  (make sure it hasn't consumed all its food when you put it in the fridge, but let it have consumed enough to have a healthy population and flavor).  If it goes more than a week, it's fine but will need more of a rebuild...

 

The Sourdough Pancakes recipe in Silverton is EXCELLENT, and a great way of using up extra starter to keep that thing fed when not baking with it.  I SO recommend that recipe.  I even omit the fat in it and they still come out great!  Can't say enough about it, and it's a great way to keep that starter going well without wasting and throwing away.  And I'm doing my part to help with the maple syrup surplus situation syrup farmers are dealing with, blush...

 

Personally I don't usually do a full three builds when taking it out of the fridge, much of the time even one build is enough if I'm baking or feeding it reasonably regularly, especially if the recipe has an intermediate build or sponge... It doesn't dramatically increase its volume due to the high hydration, but there is some increase, and you can really tell the activity.  I like it in a glass container so I can look at the bottom and sides also. 

 

It depends on the bread recipe and my perception of how much active yeast there is in the starter... if the recipe has a pre-ferment sometimes I'm comfortable just grabbing it from the fridge and stirring it in the pre-ferment. 

 

Of course these nuances are hard to explain as to how to build, store and feed, but after some trial and error the starter and the bread will start to talk to you ;) and tell you what it needs.  Just never let it go more than a week if you want it to be reasonably ready to bake with, and when it's a full week, realize that's pushing the luck a little so it might need a little TLC.

 

Another important tip IMO is make sure your fridge or cold place you store it is not too cold.  For food safety you don't want too warm of a fridge, but if your fridge is too cold and you're doing a lot of refrigerating of your starter, it will not be good for it IMO.  Put it in the warmest part of your fridge.  Yeast also need a decent length of active time to reproduce, so keep that in mind with your feedings and baking schedules, if there's a lot of chillin' in between.

 

 

 

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

bakerincanada

Hi Buns of Steel thanks for the advice re 166% hydration.  I currently have my starter in the fridge and will experiment with leaving it for a week and then refreshing it and seeing how active it is.  Re the pancake recipe I took a few liberties with it and added some skim milk powder and some wheat germ.  Tasted great!  I agree it is a quick and easy way to use up the excess sourdough.  I was on the northwestsourdough.com site and there is an interesting write up on keeping your 166% hydration starter.  After playing around with sourdough now for a couple of months I tend to agree with you that there is no hard and fast rule.  One needs to "read" the sourdough and make adjustments accordingly.  Thanks and I am off to my pancakes!

bakerincanada

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

bakerincanada,

 

we did the pancakes with spelt this morning, they were nice.  They're a little watery using the 166& starter so we usually modify them a little.  Did apple and cinnamon too.

 

can you post a link to that thread, I'm  not familiar with that site.

bakerincanada's picture
bakerincanada

bakerincanada

Hi buns of steel.  Regarding the web site this is where I found the info re:maintaining a  166% hydration starter.  I have also baked recipes from this site with good success.  Most recently I purchased her Special Recipes and baked a great Kaiser bun my most successful yet. 

http://www.northwestsourdough.com/activation.html Hopefully this gets you where you need to go.  Spend a little time looking around while you are there. 

Re the pancakes I always add a bit more flour too just to thicken up the batter.  I don't usually ad lib with recipes but this recipe is very forgiving.  Also some recipes for sourdough waffles and pancakes on the above site.  She mainly uses 166 % hydration.  I emailed Teresa(the moderator/owner) and she reports that she likes to use 166% hydration for the sourness and for the ease of use.  Any way let me know if you try anything.

I am contemplating purchasing a starter  from there.  Does anyone have any thoughts re purchasing starters.  I was concerned that I would be diluting the starter by using my flour and water.  I guess the questions are  do starters from different areas really taste different and can you maintain that difference when you relocate the starter?  Any thoughts?

bakerincanada

Bread Bum's picture
Bread Bum

I made Silverton’s starter and find it very forgiving. At first, it stayed on the counter covered with a towel and was fed daily. Now, it is kept in the fridge and fed with either six or eight ounces of water and flour every two or three days. I always feed it the night before baking. I remove it from the fridge about an hour or two before using.

I bake bread every other day or so, consuming a lot of flour. At first I used flour such as King Arthur’s that cost about eighty cents a pound in five-pound sacks, the largest groceries seem to carry. Now I buy ConAgra bread flour in twenty-five pound sacks at Costco for thirty cents a pound. It works just fine.

Bread Bum