The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The proper use of starter from frig to oven

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bmuir1616's picture
bmuir1616

The proper use of starter from frig to oven

Hi. I am new to the site and love what I see so far. I have a sourdough starter going and it is in the frig. I am confused on how to treat it in order to make sourdough bread on a Saturday. Here is what the current plan is gleaned from reviwing past posts (comments welcome):

  1. It is now Thursday night about 11:00PM here in Michigan.
  2. The started was refreshed last Sunday and put in the frig.
  3. I plan on taking it out of the frig, taking a cup out adding in two cups of flour (10 oz) and adding 11 oz of water and letting it sit at room temperature over night.
  4. Tomorrow morning (Friday), I will use 1 cup starter with 10 oz flour and 11 oz water and let it stand at room temperature all day while I am at work.
  5. Friday evening I will make the pre-ferment using a cup of the starter (or whatever the recipe calls for) and whatever flour and water are needed and letting that set at room temperature overnight. I will use some of the leftover starter to rebuild the starter, leave it out overnight and put it back in the fig on Saturday for next week.
  6. Saturday morning I will make the dough; let it rise; shape; let it rise; and bake.

Will this work?

Thanks for the help.

Bill

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

First a quick comment.  In many circles "frig" is a euphamism for another four letter word that also starts with "F". and which is one of George Carlins 7 words that can not be spoken on TV.  The cooler is usually called a "fridge" which is short for a brand name.

 

Back to sourdough.  It'll work, but it'll waste a lot of flour.  I like to feed up my starters over 2 or 3 days so I have a nice consistent starter each time I bake.  You're on track there.  I like to feed my starter twice a day, and you're on track there.  I like to double the amount of starter with each feeding, and you're on track there too.

 

What I'd suggest is start with less starter.  Let's plan on saving 1/2 cup of starter for the next bake and using 2 ciups of starter in the bake.  It's easier to do this by weight than by volume.... but we'll do it by volume.

 

Start with a tablespoon of starter from the fridge and add 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 ciup of flour.

 

12 hours later (more or less) add another 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup of flour.  This is close to doubling the size of the starter.

 

12 hours later, add 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour.

 

12 hours later, add 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 cups of flour.  Now, take out 1/2 cup of the starter and put it into the fridge.  Starter lasts best if it is refrigerated as soon as it's fed.

 

12 hours later, you should hae around 2 cups of starter ready to use. 

 

 So, start Thursday morning and you're good to go.  The first feeding is a bit more than doubling the size of the starter - it's about 6 or 8 times.  This is to dilute the acidity in the starter from the fridge to give the starter a better chance to start up again.

 

Hope that helps,

Mike

 

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

 

How does "fridge", with a d, get to be short for Firgidaire, with a g?

Just curious 

Larry

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In order to properly pronounce the short "i" it is followed by two consonant letters "d" and "g"  also as in bridge and ridge.   The two consonants are also in the word Frigidaire, Aspirin is another short word.

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

you're as good with words as you are with bread. Thanks for the explanation. It makes perfect sense.

 Larry

bmuir1616's picture
bmuir1616

Mike:  You're right!  My bad.  Thanks for the instruction.  I think I am begining to understand.  So much to learn.  But, what fun.  Thanks,  Bill+

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Bill. 

Welcome to TFL! 

Your plan looks like you shouldl end up with a really active starter by Friday evening. The only thing I would change for sure is that, when you rebuild the starter you are going to refrigerate for next week, you should only let it ferment for an hour or so, until you start to see bubbles forming, before refrigerating it. Otherwise, the beasties will have eaten up all their week's food and will have nothing left to snack on for the rest of the week. 

The other change you might want to make is that you may want to refrigerate the starter you are going to be using to bake with Saturday after it has just doubled. After two feedings, this may occur in 4-6 hours. In general, you want your starter at the peak of activity when you add it to your dough. You don't want to wait until it has exhausted itself. 

Others' opinions may vary, but that's mine. 

David

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

dmsnyder commented:

The other change you might want to make is that you may want to refrigerate the starter you are going to be using to bake with Saturday after it has just doubled. After two feedings, this may occur in 4-6 hours. In general, you want your starter at the peak of activity when you add it to your dough. You don't want to wait until it has exhausted itself. 

Others' opinions may vary, but that's mine.

 

I used to do what you're doing.  Feed the starter and make sure it is lively before refridgerating it. 

 

Then I read what Dr. Sugihara wrote after he looked at what happened to starters that were frozen.  He found that freshly fed starters fared better than ones that had been given time to mature.  They fared much better.

 

So, I thought about it.  And realized that by the time I was ready to think about refridgerating my starter, it had already shown me that it was alive and healthy so I didn't need to wait to see if it was going to work.  It had already done that for the last 2 or 3 feedings.

 

So, I just fed the starter and put it into the fridge.  And found that my starter revives much more quickly than it used to and that it lasts longer as well.  The key reason seems to be that the starter hasn't had as much  time to build acid.  All organisms have limits to their ability to live in their own waste products.  Refridgerating the starter when it is still fresh means a lower acidity level.

 

Mike

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I love it when the "right thing" to do is also simpler.  

David

leemid's picture
leemid

Make sense. I hate it when I miss the obvious like that.

Lee

bmuir1616's picture
bmuir1616

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Nice graphics.... I need to work on my graphic skills.

 

However, I wouldn't have a separate pre-ferment stage.  The starter is ready to use at any time when it will double in size between feedings... the only question is if you have enough of it.  So, I'd... lessee..... get rid of the rightmost box on the bottom, and change the one that is to the left of it to read, "Use the starter to make bread or whatever we're making today."  I'd also move all the boxes on the top row one space to the left.  So, you'd start this Thursday morning rather than Wednesday evening.

 

Hope that makes sense.  I've had my second cup of coffee, but it doesn't seem to be taking hold today.

 

Mike

 

bmuir1616's picture
bmuir1616

Mike:  Okay.  Easy enough to change.  I'd like to  get this right for me and others.  So...

If we move everything in the top boxes to the left we start on Thrusday AM and end on Saturday AM.  Lower boxes stay the same with the two exceptions below and the right two boxes, now empty, are removed.

On Friday, we can add to the starter or make a pre-ferment (assuming we have enough starter) so that box reads:  "Add 12 oz flour & 12 oz waterr or use starter (if you have enough) to make a pre-ferment that can rest overnight."

Then, Saturday reads:  "Use the starter or pre-ferment to make bread or whatever we're baking today."

If you agree, I will post the updated graphic.

Thanks,

Bill

 

 

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

For me, the starter is the preferment.  When you build the starter, you are building the preferment.  No reason for another step, just use it.  If you need more starter, feed it another time or two.  It doubles each time, so you get more starter in a hurry.

 

The dates are right.  The only question is, why are the two right boxes being removed?  Looks to me like only one gets removed and one gets changed.  Though we may mean the same thing but be describing it differently. 

 

Where you gonna post the graphics?

 

Also, if you go strctly by weight, it's easier.  Let's imagine you want 1,000 grams on Saturday morning....

                      Starter         Water     Flour

Thursday AM          25               50        50

Thursday PM         125              63        63

Friday AM              250             125       125

Friday PM, part 1     10               20        30  mix and refrigerate

Friday PM part 2     490            255        255

Saturday AM   1,000 grams of starter, ready to use

 

It's easier to scale if you want more, or less, starter on bake day than messing with cups.

 

Mike

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner


chez-jude's picture
chez-jude

I know this may not be "by the book," but it always works great for me:

FRIDAY BEFORE WORK: Take starter out of refrigerator. Measure out 1 cup and dump the rest. Stir in 1/2 c. water and 1 c. flour. Allow to ferment till evening. (My house = about 65-68 degrees.)

FRIDAY AFTER WORK: Use starter to prepare bread dough, which will then ferment for 18 hours.

SATURDAY: When 18+/- hours is up, shape, allow a 2-hour rise, bake, cool, slice, eat.

I haven't tried a more technical method to see if there is any improvement because I've been pleased with the results I am currently getting.

P.S. And, yes... when I read the topic of "...From Frig to Oven," I my first thoughts were the connection between the frig and "the bun in the oven"!

Prairie19's picture
Prairie19

Your method is very similar to mine with a few minor differences.

I keep a liquid starter at 125% hydration and usually bake one loaf at a time.

On the morning of the day before I bake, I mix 50 g. starter, 80 g. bread flour, and 100 g. boiled and cooled tap water. I let this set at about 70 degrees fahrenheit until evening (about 10 hours). My starter usually expands 2 1/2 to 3 times, and then collapses -- but I don't think collapse is a problem for liquid starters.

In the evening, I measure the amount of starter I need for the bread recipe (most often 153 grams). The remaining starter (about 50 to 60 grams) is placed into a spotlessly clean jar and returned to the fri(d)ge for the next baking. I mix the dough, knead, and let it ferment overnight.

The next morning I stretch and fold the dough, shape the loaf and proof for 2 to 3 hours. Then bake, cool and eat.

The proportions will vary with the recipe and number of loaves you want to make.

This method is simple and doesn't waste flour. I don't know about taste though. Am I missing anything?

 

Prairie19

 

 

 

bmuir1616's picture
bmuir1616

Mike: Here is the chart as you outlined above. Well done! I hope this helps others:

nursedugan's picture
nursedugan

Someone gave me some starter the other day.  I fed it with 1/2 cup plain flour and 1/2 cup tap water.  I then put it in the fridge.  What do I need to do to make my starter increase in size and how do I know when it is ready to use- thanks jamie

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I usually jump in and try to answer questions about sourdough. I've been a sourdough baker for about 10 years now. But, that's a big question.

 

So. I'll suggest my web site. It's Sourdough Home, and it's helped lots of people with sourdough questions.

 

The pages you'd probably be most interested are my my (hopefully) painless introduction to baking and the fairly new Fast Track to Sourdough.

 

If you don't have a lot of baking experience, try the (hopefully) painless introduction to baking. I think it's pretty good, and I've gotten a lot of thank you notes about it over the years. And some people keep making the three breads in that mini-course long after they've completed the mini-course.

 

If you are an experienced yeast baker, or you've completed the baking mini-course, the fast track to sourdough covers the elements of sourdough and focuses on all the questions I get asked again and again. It's newer, so I especially welcome feedback on that new mini-course. (I always welcome comments on the web page. The ONLY comment I haven't replied to was one where someone spoofed their email address and said rude things. Even that sender would have gotten a polite reply if they'd had the courtesy to use a real email address.)

 

When you have more focused questions, I'll be glad to answer, either through my web page or here.

 

Good luck,

Mike

 

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

Mike,

 Your  Black Canyon Sourdough Bread recipe has 1 cup plus 1 TBSP of whole wheat flour in it.  I am wondering if soaking that in water for a period of time before mixing the dough would enhance the flavor of the bread.

Colin 

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

It probably would. Most preferments help the flavor of bread. Using the whole wheat in an autolyse would boost things. It would also make mixing easier.

 

However, I haven't done it, so if you try the recipe with and without the autolyse, please let me know what happens.

 

Mike

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

Mike,

 Thanks.  Another question: 

Your Black Canyon Sourdough recipe appears to call for just 30 minutes of primary fermentation before shaping.  Am I reading that right?  It sounds pretty short.  

Colin 

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

It's really just enough time for the dough to relax after mixing so you can shape it.

 

All doughs don't need a first rise, a knock down, shaping and a second rise.  This one doesn't.  In part, if I remember developing the recipe, the dough didn't have enough strength for a second rise, but it was where I wanted it, so I decided against a second rise.

 

Mike

 

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

I think I am going to try that recipe tomorrow.

 Colin 

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Hi, Jamie:

There is a ton of information on this site about sourdough. Your best bet is to look on the right hand side of the home page, under Lessons, way down near the bottom. There you will find 5 lessons. One is on sourdough, and it is probably the best place for you to learn how to build your starter. This will take a couple of weeks.

While your starter builds, I would strongly suggest that you do some practicing on baking regular bread. That is covered in Lessons 1 and 2. It will give you a good basic background and when your sourdough is ready to go, you will be also.

There are many ways to handle a sourdough starter. Most of them work well. A lot depends on the starter and the person working with it.

Another bit of advice: if you know someone who bakes bread, ask if you can either help some day, or at least watch. It is a real benefit to see how someone else does it, and it will give you a chance to see the various stages dough goes through and what to look for.

Have fun.

 

Mary Dugan Shipp

MaryinHammondsport