The Fresh Loaf

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Ars Pistorica- 0 to Starter in 3 Days

hungryscholar's picture

Ars Pistorica- 0 to Starter in 3 Days

If you have thought about getting a sourdough culture going but don't feel up for a lot of watching and waiting, I highly recommend the method outlined by Ian on his now rather empty Ars Pistorica blog. I nearly posted yesterday, because it sure looked like sourdough starter and tasted like it, and had lots of little bubbles. But, I feel, the proof is in the pudding, or my old friend, sourdough bread. So, here I am Sunday morning with two little loaves that managed to surprise me with some solid oven spring 10 hours after bulk fermentation start.

And here's how I built the starter, Ian's method more or less to a T:

Wenesday, 10 PM, 20g Bob's Red Mil Dark Rye + 240g tap water(warm, around 77 F, possibly filtered) both weighed into a ziploc baggie, mixed and then the sealed baggie placed in a plastic container of warm water and that placed in my proofer set at 99 F. I know it is starting to sound a bit like I am making a turducken here, but bear with me. Anyway, that sat in the proofer for around 18 hours, at which point the proofer had lots of condensation and the water in the container the ziploc bag was in was a toasty 108 degrees. And there was clearly lots of activity inside the bag with active bubbles. Which takes me to...

Thursday, 4PM, Open ziploc briefly to add a premeasured 100 g of Whole Wheat Bread flour, from Great River Milling. I do note some less than pleasant smell at this point, hence the quick open of the bag to add the fresh flour. Then back it goes into the plastic container, now emptied of its water, and the proofer set down to 88 F. 20 hours later...

Friday 12 Noon. Into a new container, measure out 45 g water + 100 g more of the Great River flour and then take 30 g of the mixture from the baggie, where again there were plenty of bubbles. I knead this into a lump of dough and return it in its container to the proofer now set down to 80 F and wait another 20 hours or so...

Saturday 8:30 AM At this point the lump of dough shows all signs of looking like and quacking like the sourdough starter which I know and love, so I take some and use it to bake my approximation of SF Sourdough by way of my interpretation of some very helpful posts around these parts on the Larraburu Brothers Bakery...

Saturday Noon- I get around to feeding some of the remaining new starter, 1 part starter: 1 part water : 1 part AP : 1 part Whole Wheat.

Saturday 9:30 PM, Bake.

Sunday, 9:17 AM, Eat.



Isand66's picture

Sounds like a pretty simple method and obviously successful one.  So how would you rate this method with your previous starter?

Gluten-free Gourmand's picture
Gluten-free Gourmand

Hungry, I've been using this method for a few years and have good results, but sometimes my starter doesn't live for more than a week.  I think I need to modify my method a bit.  My notes say to heat to 95° during the first stage for 24 hours.  I think your temp is correct - 99°.  But was there a note in the original recipe to only do this step for 18 hours or was that just how it worked out for you?

mariana's picture

Wow, great bread!

It's so nice that Ian's starter lives in your kitchen and is recreated over and over. It was one of my favorites back then when he wrote about it.

So fragrant!

I kept both rye and whole wheat starters made by his method. It took me two days to make working starter by using ars pistorica's recipe (link below) They were great and made great bread. I know some people swear by that method and by that starter just like you, even today, full 8 years later.

Gluten-free Gourmand's picture
Gluten-free Gourmand

Thanks for the link mariana!  I have been looking for the original mention of this method and thought it was its own post.  Would never have remembered that it was in the comments.  This is a great method.  I just used it on Wednesday to make a starter and was mixing my sourdough on Saturday, baked on Sunday.  The starter smells fantastic.  No funkiness after three days.  I've been looking around to see if anyone else uses this or if it's just some secret, cultlike knowledge only bestowed on the few.  I suspect that most people looking at this method would just think "not possible" and skip past.  Boy, are they missing out!

The only modification I make is the hydration level.  I use sorghum and I find that it doesn't play well at anything other than 120% hydration, so I establish that in step 2 and keep it going at 120% from there. 

I'm glad to be back baking sourdough after a few years away from it.  And glad to have this resource so I could get started so quickly.  Now if I can only remember how to do the rest of it...