The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye and white flour starters

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Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Rye and white flour starters

Hey, all! I've been making bread from my first successful starter. It's a 100% rye starter, and I've gotten great loaves from it.

Some of the loaves I want to try call for a plain white flour starter. So what do you think:

  • Will a 100% rye starter be too strong a flavor for a traditional white flour sourdough?
  • Can I activate my rye starter with plain bread flour to mellow it out?
  • Can I use a bit of my rye starter as a seed and start feeing it with bread flour to make a regular starter?

I'll likely experiment with all of the above options, anyway, but I'd like to hear from anyone who's done such things.

Thanks!

-Joe

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Yes, you can use a small amount of your rye starter as seed and feed it unbleached white flour to create a white starter from it. You will never notice that it started with rye flour. The small amount that is in it will not be detectable. It is actually a good thing to add a couple of spoonfuls of rye or whole wheat flour to a white starter every now and then because it gives it a better flavor.

dulke's picture
dulke

I've not tried using a rye starter with white flour, but I have used a whole wheat starter for white bread - but I should also state that the particular recipe required very little starter for a sponge. If your recipe uses a lot of starter, then there may be some effect. My own preference is to add a little rye or whole wheat flour -or both - to recipes that call for all white flour - I think it improves the flavor.

I've also done what SourdoLady suggests - taken a starter and changed the flour. Works a treat.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Hi Joe. My starter began its life as a rye starter, which I split in two after a couple of weeks. One part was fed from then on with white bread flour, the other with rye. Both live in the fridge so I can reactivate either when I need either a white or a rye starter. And both are extremely healthy, almost a year old now!

Occasionally I will take 30 grams of the original starter (either rye or white) , feed with 30 grams water and 50 grams of the appropriate flour, ferment a while and put that in the fridge, discarding the original. This seems to invigorate the starter and keeps the original strain goign, but with new life!

Each time I use the starter, I'll take 30 grams out of whichever starter I need, use that, and feed the remaining original starter with 30 grams water and 50 grams flour then put it back in the fridge. It increases in mass gradually, until it seems the time to start again with a new lot.

Andrew

ryan's picture
ryan

Your starter must be great! I don't know how much you need to leaven a kg loaf but it takes me three hundred grams. what's your recipe? or is it due to the old starter?

ryan

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Ryan,

when I take the 30 grams of starter to use, I add to it 40 grams water and 40 grams flour. Leave it to double overnight.

Next day I take 100 grams of starter (which is all of it except the bits that stick to the bowl it's in) and add 100 grams water and 100 grams flour - leave that for 6 - 8 hours, and that is my 300 grams to leaven a kg loaf.

But the same 300 grams will also leaven 2 kg - it takes longer, but I'm sure it makes for a better flavour.

Andrew

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

If the leaven seems a bit tired, I will refresh it by taking 30 grams, mixing with 30 grams water and 50 grams flour, leave overnight, discard all but 30 grams and proceed from there - it seems to get it off to a great start, but usually doesn't need the extra boost.

Andrew

ryan's picture
ryan

The only reason I say this is I keep 600 gr starter, and just use a straight 300 "waste" to leaven overnight. The other way seems to take too much time for me. What'd you think? It seems like your method takes 2 days..

Ryan

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

It takes two days - but that's like a minute in the morning, a minute in the evening and then its reached the stage you would be at i.e 300 grams starter ready to go. And the starter is very vigorous by then!
Give it a go - if it doesn't fit in with your schedule just go back to your usual method.
Andrew

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Well, I planned to make a 1 kilo loaf on Saturday. Refreshed starter Thursday evening.Next morning discarded all but 30 grams and fed that with 40g of water and 40g flour. Come evening I added 100 g water and 100 g flour and left it until morning - my 300 g of starter. (Allowing for the small amount that always sticks to the bowl....)
Saturday at 10.00 a.m. I started to make the dough and for some obscure reason aded 600 g water to the starter! So I had to add almost a kilo of flour to make my dough -nearly 2 kilos in total. I was expecting it to take ages for the dough to prove with such a small percentage of starter, but it was amazingly vigorous and by 6.00 pm I had two fine, well risen and beautifully browned boules!! Amazing.

Andrew

Bernie's picture
Bernie

Hi Andrew et al.

I've got my starter (as per Sourdolady/Floyd) and it smells great! Can I use regular bread recipes with Sourdough or should I make any adjustments to suit the wild yeast? I suppose what I'm asking for really is a beginner's recipe for a sourdough loaf.

Thanks, Bernie