The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

1st try: Leader's Stiff Dough Starter/Levain

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cdnDough's picture
cdnDough

1st try: Leader's Stiff Dough Starter/Levain

Hi all,

I'm just starting out and I'm at the end of day 4 of trying to create a stiff dough levain from Leader's "Local Breads" book.  Leader describes a long list of properties that a good levain will have when it is ready and mine seems to exhibit a few, but not all.  Most importantly, I'm not convinced that it is growing but a sufficient volume after feeding.  My kitchen was a tad cool at the beginning (67F) but is now 72F.  Each day I'm adding 30 g of water, 50 g of all purpose organic and 5 g of organic (hard) whole wheat.  I'm getting the smell, there appear to be bubbles forming and the dough is certainly tasting tangy but it just isn't rising as much as I expect.  I have it in a metal mixing bowl so I am not actually measuring its volume, but I'm sure it isn't doubling in 24 hrs.  It certainly isn't crawling up the sides of the bowl.  Leader describes the formation of 'visible gluten strands' but I don't know what these look like.  Can anyone post photos showing the progression of their stiff levain?  Beyond following the daily routine, is there anything else I can try?

sodbuster's picture
sodbuster

Use a different mixing bowl!  Metal and sourdough do not mix.  Use anything but a metal container.  I use a tupperware type (2 quart) container and it has served me well for 24 years.  Also for the best results, don't add anything to the starter except white flour and water.  Good luck.

cdnDough's picture
cdnDough

Many thanks... I'm starting over with a tupperware container.  The starter is only flour and water... just a little rye at the beginning and some whole wheat as it proceeds.

suave's picture
suave

I would also stay away from metal bowl, but not because it reacts with acids in sourdough, it doesn't, but because it is so much more convenient to do it in transparent jars.  Also metal has superior heat conductivity and, at least in theory, your dough may end up a bit colder than it would be in plastic.  But mostly it is convenience. 

Mike