The Fresh Loaf

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Extra sourdough starter- experiments

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CB-PDX's picture
CB-PDX

Extra sourdough starter- experiments

Hello folks.


I've been lurking for a bit now and this is my first post. (I'll have to take the time to do an intro and discuss some of the baking I have been doing.)


My question tonight, however, revolves around extra sourdough starter. I have a starter in fridge that got a little neglected. This past weekend I rejuvenated the starter and tonight made a firm starter to make a batch of the Sourdough found in BBA. But that left me with about 300g of 100% hydration starter staring at me. I already have some more of the starter in the fridge for future use but could not stand the idea of tossing this much nice bubbly starter!


So, I am the kind of guy that used to rip open TVs, dismantle lawn mowers, and cooks with reckless abandon so threw together batch of dough based on nothing much. I know some of you are probably cringing, or about the cringe, but bear with me. :)


Threw together 150g semolina flour, 150g organic Unbleached White Flour (Bob's Red Mill), 6g salt, 15g olive oil, 15g honey, 300g starter (100% hydration) and 100g warm water. This made a relatively sticky dough so probably ended up adding about 25g more flour during the kneading process. Now it is in a oiled bowl waiting for the yeast to jump into action.


Guess my question is, what am I in for?


What might I expect from such a high concentration of starter? Slow rise? Quick rise but also quick to over-proof? I was thinking I would let it rise tonight, then shape and retard overnight in the fridge. Any ideas around this being a good or bad approach?


Thanks for any input and for bearing with me.


Hey, I'm guessing this is more of less the process that lead to bread baking! If nothing else my girlfriend will have more breadcrumb ingredients...


:)


-Chris-

Atropine's picture
Atropine

I am still very much a beginner when it comes to starter, but I tend to use a high percentage of starter in my recipes (which I too just throw together).


I have three starters, each with different "personalities".  That determines the flavor of the bread more. 


If you use a great deal of starter, you are, apparently, less likely to get a sour tasting loaf.  A small amount of starter takes longer to rise the bread, therefore, presumably, bringing out more flavor and allowing more sour tasting bacteria to grow.  According to some (and hotly disputed by others), refrigeration also allows the sour tasting bacteria to grow.  However, you have some who say that WARMTH is better for sour as sour-er acetic acid grows in the warmth, but milder lactic acid grows in the fridge.  IMO, I think time is more a factor--my bread gets increasingly sour the more days after baking.


I generally do the first proof in the fridge and the shaped rise outside of the fridge.  That might be wrong, but I would be concerned that if I reversed that order, that the yeast would eat all the food too quickly.  I use the retardation to slow the yeast and develop the bacteria, as well as let the flour break down more.


But again, I am very much a beginner.  I still find that it is the starters themselves that seem to be more of a flavor influencer.  Still though, timing is also very important--timing seems to be the "volume control" of the flavor that is in the starter:  the longer the time, the "louder" the flavor.  This is JUST what I have found so far...when I do sourdough on the quick, it is more mild (but sometimes also more pleasant) than retarded sourdough (which sometimes has worked PHENOMENALLY, but sometimes has tasted a bit bitter or off balance).


It is sort of like a treasure hunt for me...each loaf has been different so far!  Probably because I am not measuring, just eyeballing and dumping.


Anyone and everyone feel free to correct me.  lolol

Atropine's picture
Atropine

Oh wait, I just saw that you used honey and oil and semolina.  Those are all going to very much affect the crumb and taste of your bread.  My sourdough has pretty much been just flour, water, starter, and salt, though one of my starters (I THINK I started it with a packet of champagne yeast) seems to be mild enough to lend itself to enriched breads, as it seems not to be very impressive on its own. 


I also recommend (though I might be outvoted) to do the first rise in the fridge.  Or, better yet, divide the bread in half, put half in the fridge for the first rise, half on the counter for the first rise, then switch for the final rise.  That would give you a much better idea of what initial cold then warm vs initial warm then cold would do.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I also think you may have a delicate rise.  With so much starter the gluten just might give way and break down if the rise takes too long.  I would gently fold the dough every hour during the bulk rise, shape it and bake it.  No retardation -- it might not hold it's shape that long.


A lot depends on the age of the starter.   I would have been temped to add 1 teaspoon of instant yeast into the dough to guarantee a rise and think of the starter as a flavor enhancer.


Hope it comes out,


Mini


 

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hey there, CB-PDX! Welcome to TFL.


I agree with Mini Oven about not retarding such a dough. Your chances of getting a good rise will increase with shorter fermentation and proofing times. After all, you are adding in, effectively, a large amount of pre-fermented flour, so the flavor is already there!


BTW I too hate to throw away discarded starter, and once made bread with a relatively high percentages of what I call castoffs, as you did.


However, that said, I mixed this dough with bread flour, to give it a chance to develop sufficient gluten structure to hold up during the bake. Semolina, while high in protein, doesn't form the same high quality gluten as wheat flour.


Still, I made 2 mistakes: 1) I didn't heed some telltale signs, and 2) as a result I retarded the dough. I found during bulk fermentation that the dough rose much more quickly than sourdough without the castoffs. Did that happen with your dough?


I should have recognized that the quicker doubling in volume argued against retarding, which would only challenge the gluten structure, as Mini says, and that I needed instead to go for a short proof and immediate bake. Out of the fridge, I proofed for an hour and the dough simply flattened out on the baking stone.


That example aside, I often use a smaller amount of discard in my weekly bread baking. And the bread that results is very tasty and rises like a champ. The trick to not having too much discard around is to keep only as much starter as you need to build your bread. (Of course if you are baking lots of loaves, you need lots of starter.) It took me a long time to figure this out, but at this point I keep around 50 grams of starter. Two refreshments of a refrigerated starter make for a plenty active starter, and less than 100g of discards to make use of in the dough.


Sorry for the long-windedness!


Soundman (David)

CB-PDX's picture
CB-PDX

Hello folks.


Well, my experiment turned out pretty good. Nice tasting loaf. Sliced it up and froze it as the tight crumb made it more of a sandwich loaf. Has a nice yellow tint to it from the semolina.


I ended up retarding in the fridge for quite a while more due to necessity than anything else. Went in the fridge around 11 pm, girlfriend pulled it out of the fridge around 1 the next afternoon, and I put it in the oven at 6. Was a little shocked when after 20 minutes the middle of the loaf was only registering 90 degrees! Another 10 minutes or so and it jumped up to 200* though.


Had to slice into it when it was still warm - Can never let it sit quite long enough. :) 


Better than throwing out all that wild yeast starter!


(I wonder if I didn't retard like recommended if I would have gotten a bigger rise. I seem to not get killer rises when retarding...) 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Good going Chris!  Glad to see it came out!  Looks pretty good! 



(I wonder if I didn't retard like recommended if I would have gotten a bigger rise. I seem to not get killer rises when retarding...)



Hard to say, retarding the semolina could have soften it up.  Semolina is heavy so it might not have made any difference in oven spring.  Maybe if the semolina was cooked first, rendering it more stretchable, there might be a better chance of higher rise.  Always worth a try... 


Mini