The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I wonder...

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sannimiti's picture
sannimiti

I wonder...

...if a recipe calls for a specifically hydrated starter could i simply use  the starter i have on hand? don't really have the nerves to go that much into math right now and i keep a poolish-like starter as i learned from crust& crumb and bba. but i'd like to try some of the great-looking recipes here and sometimes they follow another system. thanks for your help! sanni

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Well, IMHO, the short answer is, yes, go nuts!  Long answer: you should always feel free to experiment with these things, so if you want to bake a particular recipe a slightly different way, there's no reason not to try (assuming you're willing to accept the occasional failure :).  Of course, be prepared to break out a pen and paper so you can do the necessary adjustments to water/flour in the final build so you get the right hydration (and a scale is, IMHO, vital for these kinds of conversions).

All that said, it's pretty easy to convert a liquid starter to a firm starter and vice versa.  For example, the BBA sourdough takes a liquid starter, develops a firm intermediate build, and then does a final build from that.  So don't be afraid to do that if you want to try out a recipe the "orthodox" way.

Though, funny enough, this happens to be one case where I *do* change the starter, using my liquid starter directly, skipping the intermediate build entirely (it's worth noting that Reinhart himself suggests doing this in the sidebar for the recipe, so it's not without precedent :).

sannimiti's picture
sannimiti

Thanks both of you, I guess I'll just give it a try on the columbia sourdough spelt and report back. I made the levain using my starter and weighing the ingredients - that's what I'm used to anyway as in Germany we don't usually use cup measurements. I really need to get into the maths a bit more but with lots of work at the moment I'm too lazy.

dolfs's picture
dolfs

If you don't want to do the math, you have two options.

Option 1 depends on your knowing what the final dough is supposed to feel like. If your starter is lower hydration than the formula's then make it with your starter and add some water at the end to get the right consistency. If your starter is higher in hydration, hold back some of the water from the formula until the end. Often times the starter total amount required is low enough that you can estimate the amount of water in it.

Option 2 is to use the Dough Calculator that I've written about on this site. It has a worksheet were you simply input what kind of starter you have, what you were supposed to use, and the ratio of the final formula and it will tell you how to adjust. The math is done for you. 


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

If you build your stater from a very small amount (I believe even a teaspoon will work) then you don't have to worry about the hydration of your starting starter.  Just build according to the required figure, and the initial hydration will be insignificant.

Rosalie

sannimiti's picture
sannimiti

...that's the case w/ the columbia sourdough, it uses only 45 gr. of sourdough and when i pulled it out of the fridge this morning, the levain was risen beautifully. today i'll make the bread and'll keep you posted!

sannimiti's picture
sannimiti

So here we go...this weekend was a big baking marathon and there's only 4 more loaves waiting to be baked. The COlumbia Sourdough made by chance turned out good though not quite the way I wanted it - or it looked in the pics.Anyway, I think the problem was the dough was too slack. THat's a mistake I hardly ever make when trying a recipe for the first time. It really seemes living only 50 kilometres away from the coast makes for more humidity affecting the flour. Another guess would be the fact that we only have soft wheat flour in Europe and from what I understand Gluten absorbs quite a lot of liquid. I ordered vital wheat gluten and see what adding that does.

Nevertheless, the taste is great, only it looks more like those rustic bread loaves with huge holes and a rather soft crust.Defenitively one to try when I've recovered from this weekend a little:-) 

sannimiti's picture
sannimiti

So here we go...this weekend was a big baking marathon and there's only 4 more loaves waiting to be baked. The COlumbia Sourdough made by chance turned out good though not quite the way I wanted it - or it looked in the pics.Anyway, I think the problem was the dough was too slack. THat's a mistake I hardly ever make when trying a recipe for the first time. It really seemes living only 50 kilometres away from the coast makes for more humidity affecting the flour. Another guess would be the fact that we only have soft wheat flour in Europe and from what I understand Gluten absorbs quite a lot of liquid. I ordered vital wheat gluten and see what adding that does.

Nevertheless, the taste is great, only it looks more like those rustic bread loaves with huge holes and a rather soft crust.Defenitively one to try when I've recovered from this weekend a little:-) 

 THanks for all your helpful advice!

sannimiti's picture
sannimiti

that was not hardly ever make, it was supposed to be "do all the time though i should know better"