The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stirred Starter?

albacore's picture
albacore

Stirred Starter?

I'm just wondering if anyone has ever dabbled with a continuously stirred starter (well more likely a levain) and whether this would be "a good thing"?

I was thinking about a little motor driven propeller mixer, maybe running at about 30rpm and whether this would give more vitality to levain builds. My usual 80% hydration would have to go up a bit to 100-125%.

Just one of my musings....

Lance

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Like at Nunzio...

https://youtu.be/tH_qc0NiumU?t=306

Skip to 5:06 as above link

albacore's picture
albacore

Another one here  & here

pmccool's picture
pmccool

bit large for the home baker, perhaps. 

Paul

albacore's picture
albacore

Yes Paul, they're all too big for my garage, never mind kitchen! But maybe the principle can be downsized.

Lance

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Good one Danny.  Yes, every bio & chem lab has lots of magnetic stirrers with teflon magnets you drop in the beaker.  Some stirplates have heaters in them too.

Problem is, I doubt how well that system would move a very viscous levain, even at 125+% hydration.  They're made and used for pure aqueous solutions with very low solute concentrations compared to levains.

Tom

albacore's picture
albacore

There ARE magnetic stirrers that will shift very viscous mixtures, but they are specialist and carry a specialist price tag.

However if you look at this thread, that is a really runny mixture and maybe the magnetic stirrer would work. I've actually got a mag stirrer and I will check at some point soon, just what it can stir.

But for the engine for this project, I am thinking of something like this:

Lance

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Sounds like thick crepe batter (our leftover starter crepe batter is 500%).  A teflon stir bar may or may not move a 250% batter.  One thing about teflon stir bars and stir plates -- they are designed to spin fast to get solutes dissolved asap.  At very slow speeds, stir bar + vessel friction outstrips the stir bar + rotating magnet connection and they stop spinning, especially in a viscous suspension.  You'd have to find the "slowest but still moving" sweet spot for this.

Tom

albacore's picture
albacore

The other thing is that stirrer bars are only made from ferrite magnets, not the rare earth ones you might hope for - on cost grounds, I guess. That doesn't help the magnetic coupling either.

Lance

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Now this is an interesting idea.  Presumably the mature (how to tell when?) culture would achieve a higher titre owing to lack of arrest from CO2 asphyxiation. 

I have a battery powered gadget I bought to make polenta, since 110v polentine do not seem to exist.  It clamps across the top of a saucepan.   It turns out to be too weak to move suspensions of cornmeal at hydrations any lower than chowder.  But it's found its purpose in stirring milk for ricotta.  Perfect for that actually, because it has an 'intermittent' setting like windshield wipers.  My 80% levains would need dilution too but ... it's worth an experiment.  I wonder how it would affect the final bread's quality, beyond accelerating the bulk.  And I wonder if the batteries would support a 5(?) hr run.

110v alternative: use a mixer with the paddle running continuously on Speed 1, @ RT unless you've got a big proofing box.

Thanks for the idea.

Tom

phaz's picture
phaz

I'm throw 2 cents in, make it a nickel, think screw type. Many years ago when I was a lot younger, I worked for a paint/stucco manufacturer. The screw was the way to go. We also made elastomeric coatings (consistency wise it's similar to a thickish starter) and the screw was it. A small motor with a wide screw type bit (turning so material moves upwards) would mix extremely well and have the benefit of holding the contraption down on the container.

Vitality - if you mean something like strength, that's more a matter of proper feeding than stirring. Enjoy!

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

is the point of stirring, maximizing the food consumption of the culture in the levain/starter?  

what impact would that have on the bread or the process?

albacore's picture
albacore

But that's why I'm going to trial it. Cost about 10gbp, so not a big outlay.

Lance