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Sourdough Starter and Final Proofing Question

breadnut's picture

Sourdough Starter and Final Proofing Question

I have 3 Starters going. All were created using flour and water, they are all at 100% hydration, and all are maintained at the same temperature (~ 72F). However, they all behave differently. (Starters 2 and 3 were created originally from starter 1)

Starter 1:  5 hours to double

Starter 2:  2 hours 15 minutes to double. 4 hours to triple

Starter 3:  5 hours to triple. 6 hours to quadruple

The above are the times it takes for these starters on their own, before being used in a recipe. When it comes to Final proofing, the recipe might state to let proof 4 to 5 hours before they go in the oven. (The recipe: starter, wheat flour, water and salt. hydration about 71%. no commercial yeast is used).  In order to avoid overproofing, would it make sense that the Final proof should be close to the amount of time it takes for the original starter to double? For instance I made 2 loaves using starter 2. The recipe called for a final proof of 4 to 4 1/2 hours. I noticed that the first loaf had doubled in about 2 1/2 hours, so I popped it in the oven, I left the second loaf out until the first was done, about 3 1/2 hours, and it had grown to more than double, which resulted in a less risen loaf than the first. Is there a correlation between the two? any comment is appreciated. Thanks.

pmccool's picture

While it makes sense that a more-active starter would lead to a shorter final proof than a less-active starter, I'd be surprised if the relationship was linear and even more suprised if it was 1:1.  When you consider the potential differences (between starter and dough) in flour types, hydration levels, temperatures, humidity and so on,  there just doesn't seem to be much opportunity for the finished dough to behave in the same fashion as the starter.

Keep in mind that the above is more in the vein of thinking out loud and has no data to back it up.  The example you cite would suggest that there is some degree of correlation.  Some careful note-taking over 50-100 bakes should give you (and the rest of us) a better picture of whether or not there is a relationship between starter and dough proofing times.  Keep us posted, please.


JMonkey's picture

I'd rely more on the "springiness" of the loaf rather than whether it has doubled to determine when it's ready to go into the oven. Depending on the dough strength, it may be able to expand three to four times in size. Just poke it with a wet finger. When it's lost most of its spring (i.e. it doesn't fill in or does so slowly) but hasn't yet gotten to the point where it collapses and air pockets pop when you touch it, it's ready.