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What say you?

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

What say you?

So I'm making this Greek style starter. Nothing too complicated about it. Instructions are simple! 

1: soak some basil leaves in warm water overnight.

2: make a starter the usual way using basil water for the first feed then switch to plain water.

Soaked some fresh basil leaves for 24 hours then mixed a 125% hydrated white rye and basil water starter. Placed in a yoghurt maker at 25°C for 24 hours. Came home from work the next day to find it very active and starting to fall. 

Fed the starter 2.5 hours ago without discarding and with the same ratio as the first feed (so doubled up) and used plain water. The mix is already 75% risen. 

Houston, we have a lively one here! 

On my way to bed, so do I... Re-feed come morning or am I rushing things? In order to encourage acidity should I stick to once every 24 hours? And I'm thinking no yoghurt maker for now. 

What say you? 

Edit: in the 15 minutes since I've posted this it's nearly doubling. I'm thinking it's a continuation of the initial bursting of activity and I need it to calm down before feeding again. So keep it at room temperature and re-feed 24 hours after the last feed even if by morning it's fallen back. 

clazar123's picture

I had a wild child starter once. I was making several starters at the same time and even with the same flour and water, one of them took off running from the start. It didn't live long-it was almost like I couldn't feed it enough and it did NOT like living in the refrigerator between bakes. It also did not perform well for breadmaking as it fizzled too fast. Great for pancakes and such. It behaved very strangely but I wasn't heartbroken when it went flat and couldn't be revived. The other starter became my steady eddie. I'm still using it.

Interesting about the basil leaves. I have heard that pepper tops & stems can also be used to make a starter.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

the reaction I'm seeing was just the result of feeding too early and caught it still in the initial burst of activity stage. Hopefully it'll calm down. I woke up to the photo above. Not something I wish to deal with at 5:30am but couldn't leave it like that so I gave it a feed. It's back in the cupboard keeping warm but skipping the yoghurt maker for now.

This is the thread that started this project off.

Since a starter can be made with just flour and water I'm not sure what these add-ins bring. Is the resulting starter different in any way?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

unless you can test it another way.

then remove a small portion to continue feeding.  

Then use what is left over to make a loaf and see if it can rise. Figure out how much you have and how much of it is flour and water in order to add salt and more flour.  Looks like fun!

and oh, stick a bowl under it fast!  Lol!

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

So I found myself cleaning this up, pouring off 3/4 and feeding it in the early hours of the morning.

I'm half expecting it to calm down today. Last night I might have just been feeding those quick off the mark beasties and not the ones we find in an established starter. They were still the ones firing on all cylinders. Perhaps last night I should have left it another day before re-feeding.

Should I get back home tonight and find it bubbling up again then i'll be more convinced we have a strong viable starter. For it to do this again I highly doubt it's the quick burst of activity stage.

If quieter i'll skip the taste test and just continue along the normal route of the first week. If it's active then i'll pluck up the courage and have a taste.

Even though the second feed was with water the smell of the basil was still coming through. However I did not detect (yet) any leuconostoc activity. We'll see if that begins to come through tonight or not. That'll also be the deciding factor of whether I taste it or not :)

I do like making starters. A lot of fun!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with the basil infusion and growing only yeast?  

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

And if so would it actually be a sourdough starter? Perhaps it's just a yeast starter. Would it be any different to a yeast water starter?

Gotta look into this more. Good idea!

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Bought some Dove's Farm Pasta Flour for the recipe. Recipe calls for 50:50 bread and durum flour. This pasta flour is organic, grade 00 and is a perfect mix for this bread. Very fine and a lovely golden flour. Used it before and it's good quality! Saves me having to buy both and make my own mix. Protein comes in at 14.3%.

The Greek bread recipe is quite simple. Doesn't do anything fancy like an autolyse or high hydration. They don't go for large air bubbles either. It's half and half bread and durum flour, around 65% hydration, 2% salt and 30% starter (while this one is 125% hydration I'm not sure what hydration to make the starter that goes into the dough as the instructions were just to make a starter with basil water for the first feed - they do call it "sourdough" though). Olive oil is optional.

So nothing out of the ordinary in the recipe. It's a durum/bread flour bread with this basil starter.

clazar123's picture

Some interesting links and good keywords.

Yeast is everywhere. It prospers when the conditions are right and food is available. Amazing little beasties.


Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Looks like mine was blessed! Somehow I've cultivated a strong one.

And thank you Clazar. You've inadvertently answered another question... in the article it says they keep a piece of dough back to cultivate the next batch. Another way to "keep a starter". We normally keep it going separately but one can just take off a little dough before shaping. I think for my recipe i'll turn it into a pate fermentee to the same hydration as the final dough so it'll be 65% hydrated.  

But let's observe it till the weekend to see any changes. If it's going well i'll begin to convert it to the correct flour soon.

DesigningWoman's picture

I love stories like that! Thank you!


Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Come home to a lovely active starter again. Has a very very faint leuconostoc smell but only at first. I think it's just the basil that has become more earthy and less crisp, if you catch my meaning. Like autumn leaves. It has now risen very well 3x and we are at the end of day two. I think my plan is to turn it into a 65% hydrated starter using the 50:50 bread flour and durum flour mix. 


Feed was as follows....

  • 45g starter (25g water + 20g flour)
  • 40g water
  • 80g flour (bread and durum flour mix)

This should give me a 65% hydrated starter. That was 2 hours ago. It's growing nicely and has a nice smell. Some notes of basil still coming through. 

Looks like a weekend bake is on schedule unless it starts to misbehave.

DanAyo's picture

Abe, what ever became of this interesting starter?

suave's picture

He may have left.