The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

terminology

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Pablo's picture
Pablo

terminology

In the 'fridge I have what I call my "starter", at 100% hydration, which I believe it is generally referred to as a "liquid starter" .  I mix 20 grams of that with 40 grams of water and 40 grams of flour to produce 100 grams of "XXX".  I add 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water to that after it's doubled and produce 300 grams of "YYY", to which, when doubled, I add sufficient flour and water and salt to achieve a dough at whatever mix of flours and hydration level I'm into that day.

I've just been reading "The Bread Builders" and their terminology is:

1.  Storage leaven (what I call "starter"), 2.  First leaven sponge ("XXX" above),  3.  Second leaven sponge ("YYY" above) and finally 4.  Ripe leaven sponge (the final sponge that is used to create the dough.)  To complicate semantics slightly, the storage leaven is refreshed by using some of the second leaven sponge - you pull out 150 grams or so and stick it in the 'fridge and call it "storage leaven".  They adapted their terminology from French terms. 

I'm wondering how universal this wording is.  I read about people using a cup of "starter" in a recipe and I wonder at what stage of the above their "starter" is coming from.  I read of people using a "sponge" and I wonder at what stage in the refreshment process that sponge is. 

Also there are references in posts to "builds", like "first build" and "second build" (which I like but wonder how widespread is the usage.)  I am an English speaker and i prefer to use English words, but I also want to be specific about what I'm talking about with a reasonable assurance that someone reading it will infer the same meaning as i am tryig to imply.  If there are more specific words in other languages, perhaps French, (the language of bread), then perhaps it is appropriate to use them... I'd always wonder about how to pronounce them, though, sigh.

Does anyone else have insight or interest in this topic?

:-Paul 

leucadian's picture
leucadian

We probably don't have precise terms because the baking process is not standardized. If we could agree on one authority, it would be simpler, but there are just too many traditions to have common terminology. it seems to me that there are three stages that would be useful to have names for: the storage starter (very firm for me), the intermediate builds (100% for my breads), and finally the stuff that I add to the final dough with (which I don't have a name for except starter). For all the other distinctions, I add qualifiers if necessary (2nd, liquid, rye, Carl's).

 What are the stages in the Detmolder rye process called? In that case, I think the process is well defined and amenable to precise naming.

proth5's picture
proth5

Although there are other cultures that might dispute that French is the language of bread, I'll go with some French terms here.

Unfortunately I don't know how to get the diacritical marks in my typing.

What we recognize as the medium to catch those first wild yeasts is "La mere" (the mother) as this matures and is fed, it becomes "Le Chef" which is the what is stored and maintained.  Le chef is then used in a process called "Rafraichi du levain" which takes the chef and adds an appropriate amount of flour and water and is left to ferment overnight and becomes "le levain" which is then used in the final dough.  After the rafraichi du levain part of it is weighed to become le chef - which also gets an overnight fermentation and then is used for the next day's levain.

At least for the baker that I am using as a reference. 

When I am speaking English (which is more often than I speak French) I use the terms as I was taught.  What I keep and refresh is my "starter."  I take a portion of this and add flour and water to do a "levain build" which is fermented overnight.  This levain build is then used in my final dough.  My personal process varies from the process I was taught in that I never put all of my starter into the levain build.  I do this (and this is how variations creep in) because I don't bake every day, so every day I must discard a portion of my starter and feed (or refresh) it anyway so I find this to be more convenient.  As I was taught, I do not refrigerate my starter unless I absolutely must.  As I was NOT taught, I only feed (or refresh) it once a day ( I should do it twice a day, but I have agonized enough over this and will do so no more.)  If I baked every day, I would no doubt do exactly as I was taught. Or not. :>)

For the Detmolder Method there is a "freshening" - which is a build at 150% hydration, a "basic sour" (76%) and a "full sour" (100%) and then the final dough. Each of these is to bring out a specific aspect of the culture, yeast, acetic acid, and lactic acid respectively.  You can read more about this in the book "Bread, etc" as often cited on these pages. However these are not the terms used in wheat bread production.

A "sponge" is an old baking term and may or may not even be a "naturally leavened" step in the baking process.  Many old home baking recipes (trust me, I am an old home baker) start with a sponge.

What I am trying to say is that I find no true standard terminology.  Most of us are the product of our teachers.  As I tell folks when I give them instruction on Supply Chain Planning - "in this room you will speak my language" and "my baking teacher" follows the same rule. I personally like the system of bakers percents to express exactly what to do.  The numbers are easier for me to get my mind around than the many terms.

Hope this gives you some food for thought.

Happy Baking!

Pablo's picture
Pablo

' sounds like I can call them just about anything I want - John, Paul, George and Ringo.  If I'm asking a question here on the Loaf, though, I think I'll need to be explicit in describing the stage as no precise common language exists.   Thanks!  (also I won't feel as ignorant when I don't know what someone else is necessarily talking about when they say "starter" or "sponge" without further elaboration.)  Groovy.

:-Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

Don't know if I would push the naming quite that far.  But saying that  you have a 100% hydration pre-ferment innoculated at 15% with a 100% hydration starter will go a long way to keep things unambiguous.

Just as an aside, I do not know why we weren't started out on our very first lesson in baking with using baker's percentages.  A light went on in my brain when I first saw a formula expressed that way.  How simple - how elegant -how utterly clear!  Additionally, how simple to create variations.

Perhaps it was that persistent myth that "us girls" can't do math....

OK - done with that.

Happy Baking!

 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Paul, good point.  This is one of the most confusing areas for people just starting out in sourdough.  Sourdough is a very complex process, as is evidenced by the amount of traffic on the subject.

Like the subject line I call it starter.  Subdivisions from there-on are seemingly endless.  We're just a bunch of sourdough herders trying to keep our sourdough flock healthy and happy from batch to batch.  Maybe this is the beginning of new secret society, "The Sourdough Society" - the ultimate society for bread mystics and people still mystified by the stuff...,

Wild-Yeast

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I never use them.  For that matter, I seldom measure or weigh anything either.  The other day, I made 2 beautiful baguettes from Dan Leader's Local Breads, sort of following the recipe for Pain de Campagne and didn't measure any ingredient except the salt, and even then I added less than he called for because I was using table salt.  When I started baking, some millennia ago, I followed the recipe the first time, then went with what I felt was 'right'.  The last time I followed a recipe to the letter (this is all for bread), it was a total flop.  My two starters are Brigid and Elsie and they will remain so for as long as I use them.

proth5's picture
proth5

You are fortunate to be able to bake exclusively "by feel!"  So, similarly, you have no use for the cups and stuff that once burdened my life.

Baking by feel alone is such a gift! But for me among the many systems used, baker's percent makes the most sense...