The Fresh Loaf

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sourdough starter confusion

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chayarivka's picture
chayarivka

sourdough starter confusion

Hi, I am trying a stiff starter for the first time --Maggie Glezer's. I have always made a liquid starter that works fairly well, but I tend to neglect it in the fridge for too long. So, I am trying the one from A Blessing of Bread. I am a bit confused about a few things though I am trying to faithfully follow her stiff starter recipe. Can anyone offer help with:

1. the last feed

2. then after the last feed, it can stay in fridge indefinitely?

3. how to refresh it before using it, how many refreshments does it need, how much should I use in proportion to flour in my recipe (I tend to bake big batches) and how exactly do I liquefy it to use it, and any other tips.

 Does anyone have any advice for me?

Thanks so much!

Chaya Rivka

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Chaya Rivka.

I have not used Maggie Glezer's stiff starter, but I may be able to help you.

I assume that, by "the last feed," you mean the last feed before storing. If you are using the procedure in "A Blessing of Bread," I find Glezer's instructions quite clear. On page 88 (of the hard cover edition), the "final refreshment" consists of 10 gms of starter, 30 gms of water and 50 gms of flour.

You can use your starter now to make bread. You can keep refreshing it every 12 hours, if keeping it at room temperature. Or, you can refrigerate it.

You can refrigerate your starter right after you have refreshed (fed) it at any time.

Glezer says your starter will survive without being refreshed for a long time. (She does not say "indefinitely.") But, that is not a recommendation. Your refrigerated starter will be happier if you feed it every 7-10 days.

If you have not fed your starter for more than 14 days, it may need 2 feedings to get it well-activated. However, once it is well-established, you may only need a single feeding before using it. Glezer's criterion for a fully-activated starter seems to be that it will quadruple in volume in less than 8 hours after a feeding.

Regarding how much starter to use when mixing a bread dough: Recipe's vary widely. The proportion of starter used will have several different effects on the bread.
Similarly, use of a stiff versus a liquid starter will also have effects.

I suggest you look at many different recipes to get a feel for the different approaches. There are several good books which describe the effects of the choices made between liquid and firm starters. You will also find discussions here on TFL, and it would be well worth your time to search for them.

Since you already have Glezer's book, it may make most sense for you to read and re-read pages 81-89. They have a lot of really good information.

I hope this helps.


David

chayarivka's picture
chayarivka

Hi David,

Thank you for your advice and explanations. I was a bit embarassed to ask as Glezer's instructions were so exact, but somehow I didn't "get it". Thanks for answering -- you used slightly different language than Glezer, which definitely helped me.

I would appreciate if you could name the books you mentioned, as I am very interested in learning more about different types of starters. I have been using only a handful of recipes for them for years and want to try new ones.

As you suggested I do read thefreshloaf posts regularly and in fact love this web site and find the information not only useful but also inspiring.

Thanks again,

CR

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, CR.

I'm glad you found my explanation helpful.

I believe all the books I will list are reviewed on TFL, but here are my thoughts:

Peter Reinhart, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice:" This is the favorite "intermediate" book for lots of folks. Reinhart provides a great deal of basic information about how baker's think about formulas, methods and ingredients. He writes clearly. His formulas are reliable and quite varied. That said, there are better formulas for similar breads elsewhere.

George Greenstein, "Secrets of a Jewish Baker:" Greenstein's book is worth having for the stories alone. Or for his recipes for Sour Rye and Jewish Corn Bread alone. Some object to his giving ingredient measurements in volumes only, without weights. He has a very wide range of recipes though, and not just for identifiably "Jewish" baked goods.

Daniel Leader, "Local Breads:" This is another book with lots of good stories, in this case about visits to traditional bakeries in France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Italy. The recipes are great. I especially like the Polish and Czech rye breads. He uses a variety of sourdough starters, which might be a good experience for you. The down side is that he included a number of errors in quantities. The book is poorly edited in that regard. Just verify his numbers.

Jeffrey Hamelman, "Bread:" This is definitely a more "advanced" book, but the recipes are reliable and varied. It is particularly strong in the German rye department, but he also has some of my favorite sourdough bread formulas. This is a "must have" book for the serious bread baker.

I have a few other books I like, but these are the ones I would recommend to you, based on my impression of where you are and where you want to go.

I hope this helps.

BTW, there are lots of wonderful recipes posted on TFL, and those who posted them are very responsive to questions about them.


David

chayarivka's picture
chayarivka

Hi David,
Thanks again for your generosity. Your recommendations are very detailed and engaging. You must have spent quite a while writing up the book list and your comments. I think I will try the Hammelman book and the Leader books when I next am able to buy some books. I, too, am very fond of sour rye, especially those German sour ryes that seem to contain whole rye berries, or chopped rye berries. I will let you know if anything exciting happens with my sourdough redux.

CR

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, CR.

You are very welcome. It really didn't take much time to write the message. It took time to read and re-read the books. Time well-spent.

I think you made good choices, BTW. Between the two books, you will be a rye expert before you know it.


David

chayarivka's picture
chayarivka

Hi David,

Thank you for the Hamelman recommendation. I bought "bread" and have been studying it and it is superb. Also, my previous sourdough starter is beautiful now.

CR