## How much Starter should be used for Bread

The Night before Baking I make a Leaven with 1 Tbsp of my Rye Starter.

I use this formula.

500g of Flour and from that I use 20% which is 100g which I divide by 2 , which is 2x 50.

I use 50 g of that for Flour and 50g for the Water.

I mix it and let it sit over Night, it will be nice and bubbly in the Morning.

If I want to make a bigger loaf I just adjust.

I just wondered what other ways are there, for example to store a larger amount of Starter , leave it on the Counter , feed it 2x a day or 1x depending on the Starter.

That way I would not need to do prepare the Leaven.

I just do not know how much Starter I would have to use to make a Bread that uses 500g Flour, 350 water and 8.5 g Salt.

Petra

Mind you, my bread turns out beautiful, I just think it would be easier without the prefermenting the Night before?

but I don't understand exactly what you do. Consequently, I assume you mix 1 tablespoon of your rye stater (approximately 14g) with 50g of Water and 50g of Flour, and let it ferment overnight. I've no idea what you do the other 50g of flour. If that's correct then you are using 10% of the "final dough flour" for the levain, which, depending on what you do after mixing the final dough is probably enough.

What's your goal? Why do you want to eliminate "the prefermenting the Night before"? There is a lot more going on relative to flavor development and gluten development in a preferment. It isn't just about levaining.

You say your breads turn out beautiful. What's to fix? Sounds like nothing is broke.

David G

what I do is using the 1 Tbsp of Starter.

I than figure out how much the 20% of the Final dough flour is.

Since I am using 500g in my loaf so that would be 100g.

I divide those 100g by 2 and that gives me 2 times 50g.

50g I use as Flour and 50g for the Water.

I do not take it from the Dough Flour physicly, it is the Number that I take in my head and than take Flour and Water to make the Levain.

Not sure how else to explain.

You are right though, I should not try to fix it since it is not broken:)

A really popular method for baking a good sourdough loaf is the 3-2-1 plan. By weight, 3 parts flour, 2 parts water, 1 part starter at 100% hydration. I use 360 g flour, 240g water, and 120g of starter at 100%. Salt is 8-9g. This results in a 71% hydration loaf which isn't that hard to handle if you use some whole wheat flour in the dough.

There are plenty of comments on this method in the archives. I can't recall a single negative comment about it.

I need to adjust that recipe because we are a family of 6 , 4 of us LOVE Sourdough Bread, so that amount would not be enough.

So if I did 480g flour, 360g Water and 240g Starter at 100% and 9g Salt that should work too?

Cos it is still 3,2,1 just gone up by 100g for each.

Oh I love Sourdough.

Thank you soooo much, that REALY does help.

I used to only store a small amount of Sourdough on the counter, but than my Starter was not as active anymore.

Only this evening I put it back in his old big home and now keep enough Sourdough to use at any given time.

200g Starter fed with 200g water and 200g flour and you know what, my Starter has not been that happy in a long time:)

....480g flour with 320g water and 160g starter??

I just gone up 120 g for each so mine would be like a 4,3,2:)

1, 2, 3, in this case, represents a ratio, so we could also express it as 1:2:3 - starter:water:flour.

So, if I'm starting with 75 grams of starter, my formula would look like this:

Another way to look at this is to then see what it would look like in baker's percentages, which is easy, since we know how much flour we're using.

However, let's say I'm planning on doing a larger recipe. I get out my flour, and discover I have 450 g of flour to work with. I don't want to go the store right now, so, I do the math backwards.

I could also do it this way:

Now that I know how much starter I need, I can do my math forwards again, like I did at first.

The important thing to remember is that it's really more like a multiplication problem (or division) than addition and subtraction.

Going back to some of the numbers you were looking at:

Let's break it down, going backwards, and ignoring the salt for now.

Following the same process as above, the numbers don't match the ones you had. Let's look at how those ratios do compare.

Looking at this, it seems that we have a much wetter dough, which isn't a necessarily a problem, but we have a lot more starter - enough that the acidity could soon start breaking down the gluten, if not watched carefully.

If we look at it in baker's percentages:

Whereas, if we do this same thing as above with the numbers from working backwards, we get:

I may have gone on too long. Was that clear? It might help to do a few practice problems to drill it into your memory.

Ui , that is a lot to remember, I shall bookmark this thread so that I can get back to iet whenever I need.

Thank you soooo much for your help.

Petra

You don't necessarily need to remember every single thing I wrote; there's just a lot of different ways of looking at this one thing, and I don't know what manner of presenting it will suit your brain the best.

If you'd like, here's a practice question to try out. See if you can work out the answer, and then either post in response to this comment or PM me - if the latter, copy and paste in the question, because I probably won't remember it later.

If you don't feel like answering, that's fine, too. This is just an option to try out the math and get feedback, so that you can get more comfortable with this particular process.

Hmmm, I can only go by my own recipe.

I need 15g of Starter and 300g of Water, the dough would be 60% hydration.

15 g starter for 500 g flour? You must have a very happy starter indeed!

Let's take a step back and look at a different problem, and then we'll come back to this one. All of the math needed for the last question and this one is included in my post above, but the presentation is not very easy on the eyes.

My Rye Starter is very happy, but I make a leaven the Night before baking , adding 50g of Strong Bread Flour and 50g of Water.

110g Starter/220g Water/330g Flour

Okay, here's a different one to play around with the concept some more.

125g of starter

125 x 3 = 375g of flour

If you go from total dough weight, divide by 6 (1+2+3)

750 total dough weight (not including salt and other ingredients) 750 / 6 = 125

You do show your work well. I hadn't gotten to total dough weight, but you present it so neatly that now I feel silly for that. Clearly I'm too long-winded with my explanations. :)

because you wanted Petra to answer.

You were just doing as is your wont to do. I was thinking of it as a mini math lesson, but I guess now it's a math lesson with Mini. And hopefully still Petra, too, if I haven't scared her off.

Petra - It looks like Mini answered the newest question for you. Do feel like you understand the math she did? If so, maybe we could go back to the first practice question again, and if not, we can take a closer look at what she did.

That is, assuming you are still interested in going over this concept. I hope I'm not being too overbearing/pushy. :)

I have to get my head around it all, it is quite overwhelming.

But I am getting there:)

Petra

I'm hoping that by breaking it down into smaller chunks, I can make it less overwhelming. Do you want to go over the answer Mini wrote out together?

Here's the question again:

Here's Mini's answer for the first part:

So, here we see that she is taking the water amount and dividing it in half. When one knows the amount of starter at the beginning, it is easy to think "(starter amount) + (starter amount) = (water amount)". However, she can't just subtract the amount of starter, because she doesn't know it yet. Because adding the same number to itself is the same as doubling, or multiplying by 2, the following statements are true:

- (starter amount) + (starter amount)

Because the opposite of multiplication is division, when we want to do this equation backwards, it looks more like this:=(starter amount) x 2=(water amount)Ist das klar? We can go over the second part of the question once you feel like you understand this part.

,erased because it is not appearing farther up in the thread and only adds to confusion. please ignore.

Some things having read the responses thus far:

First, as I think you have now realised, you've been making a LEVAIN not a LEAVEN. Leaven is the same as Leavening Agent which is something that will raise a dough. Bakers Yeast, Baking Powder, Yeast Waters, Sourdough Starters are all types of Leavening Agents. I always refer to preferments to avoid confusion.

Second. The advantage of the preferment is that you are building up a required amount of starter WITHOUT having to discard anything. If you had your 100g of starter sitting on the counter all the time you'd have to keep feeding it and so you would likely discard 66g of it and feed the remaining 34g with 33g of flour and 33g of water. That would be very wasteful. There is no need to ever discard any starter whilst you are regularly baking. Preferments also help develop flavour. IMO you should aim to keep as tiny an amount of starter as possible and then always use little bits (like the Weekend Bakery 15g) to build it up to what you need for a specific loaf bake.

Also bear in mind that the end product from any published recipe is a loaf with a particular crumb texture and a particular flavour. The amounts of starter in the recipe, the length of time for bulk ferementing/proofing and the use of any preferment will all be factors that determine that end product. If you mess with the recipe then the end product will change. You will still likely end up with a nice edible loaf but it won't be the one the recipe was for.

Thirdly as previous poster pointed out, it is important to maintain the proportions of any recipe. You can't just add the same quantities to things, it's the proportions that matter. E.g If the proportion of your flour and water was 2 to 1 (2 parts flour to 1 part water) then obviously the water would ALWAYS weigh 1/2 of what the flour weighs.

So, for 500g flour the water would be 250g

If you decided to just add 100g to each you would get 600g flour and 350g water. Notice then that the water is no longer 1/2 the flour, it is much more. You have to maintain the proportions.

So for 600g flour it would be 300g of water.

ATB EP

Thank you for your reply:)

I just got done building this elaborate (for me!) spread sheet to figure out how much starter I need to add in relation to flour and liquid. Now my head hurts and I run across this discussion. The 1-2-3 method the way Mini Oven explained it makes sooo much more sense! Thank you for that! I had read somewhere online to use 37% (in grams) of sourdough in relation to the total flour used. I ended up with 111 g starter, 198 g liquid (I did half beer half water), 300 g flour. I guess that's close to your 1-2-3 version. Bread came out great. Not as pretty as most of the loaves I see here, but it tasted good and I'm still new in this. I just need more practice.

I also build a levain the way Petra described it. I mix 50g of "Fred" (that's my refrigerated starter), 50 g water and 50 flour (usually half rye, half wheat) and let it sit overnight. In the morning, I might re-feed again with white flour if Fred Levain doesn't pass the float test. Night temps are only around 60F). Once the heat comes back on in the morning in combination with a fresh feeding, Fred Levain grows a lot faster. I start the bread usually in the afternoon (5 pm or so).

My question now is: how does the types of flour I use affect the amount of Fred Levain that I need? Do I need more? Whole grain flours are heavier. I like a good "Mischbrot" which should have some parts of wheat, rye, barley, maybe even whole grains (like spent grain!) . Do I need to increase the Fred Levain amount or just keep the whole grain flours under 30% of the total flour used?? Just curious. Thanks for any help you can give me. In the meantime, I keep playing with Excel and Fred. :)

How does the type of flour affect the amount of starter needed to raise the loaf?

Whole grains are heavier but they tend to ferment faster. Adding more starter will also speed up the ferment. So let's say you took a basic recipe like 1-2-3 (s-w-f) for regular AP wheat flour and switched out half the flour for a whole grain wheat flour. Your fermenting times will be shortened when comparing. Say we do this again but feed the AP levain also whole wheat before using it, then you may notice a starter that peaks sooner and in using it also speeds up the bulk of the dough. Take into consideration that the dough and starter may peak with less volume due to a heavier loaf but if the gluten has been developed enough, they are comparable. Whole flours need a bit more hydrating (or soaking) before being put to work. With a shortened ferment, this might not be the best solution. Adding more sourdough culture so the dough ferments even faster may result in the opposite effect (but this depends on your dough flours and how much punishment the dough can take.)

You've already noticed how temperature can change fermenting times so you can also play with this variable to lengthen or shorten fermenting times.

Another way to deal with whole grain flours is to hydrate them first with some or all of the recipe water and add the starter later. This is called "autolyse." This gives the whole bits in the flour time to soften before fermenting, a great trick with whole grain flour, you will get greater volume increases and have fluffier bread crumb. Then the fermenting time doesn't have to be so long to get a nice textured bread. Some like to include the recipe salt if the soak is longer than 3 hours to control enzymes. You can play with that, salt tightens protein bonding (think tiny proteins in the dough holding hands with each other forming a net or matrix. By adding salt, the little hand holding changes from hand to wrist locking.) Added ingredients can also introduce proteins into the dough.

About the 30% of whole flours... well... it depends on what you want your loaf to be. Since moving to Europe, my ideal bread type has changed dramatically. There are so many types of bread and textures, I can't begin to list them. Personally, I like to bake predominately with whole flours, some of them so finely ground they resemble AP flours so sitting with excel and spreadsheets is... for me too frustrating, I'd rather have my hands squishing around in dough and smelling fresh baked bread. I find reading flour labels more interesting. It's a good place to start or keep doing. Compare the protein levels, fibre and total carbohydrates. Compare grains and types of flour within that group. Don't be afraid to try something new and read about it later and don't be afraid to make mistakes. It adds to the fun and learning.

Oh, and you can reduce the amount of "Fred" and keep your dough cooler for a slow rise too while upping the whole flours. You have to play around and keep good notes to see how Fred works for you. :)

edit... to answer the question of how much starter to use in a recipe? Um. It varies. By ratios... 1-2-3 bread recipe starter is one to three in weight, starter to flour. A one to one ratio can be done. So can a one to half ratio of flour. So can a one to twenty ratio work. The starter amount in any recipe can vary greatly depending on the type of starter (wet or firm) and how it is used or increased before going into the dough. Temps play a big, big, big role and so does dough strength.

@minioven

Wow! That was a lot of info. Cool. Yeah, I don't really like wasting time with spreadsheets either, but math was never one of my virtues, so it helps. I live near Seattle, but the stores nearby don't have a lot of choices when it comes to flour type. You have AP, white bread flour, spelt, rye, and that's it. I bought "beer grain" (different types of barley) from the homebrewer's store which I mill myself with one of those hand mills. I just like adding that for a more "warmer" flavor. I'm originally from Germany, so bread here never came close to what I like. Your points make a lot of sense, and I had several "aha" moments reading them. I will definitely get more into the dough (literally) :) I usually do the autolyze. Q: is it better to autolyze without Fred -- so just water and flour? I've been mixing Fred with the liquid, add my flour and let the mess sit for an hour. Then I add my salt and do the fold and stretch about 20 times or so. I've been writing all my steps and observations down so I know what I did and may do different next time. The older I get, the more forgetful the brain gets.:) Anyway, thank you for your answer! I'll get back to you with more questions if that's okay.