The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Some Experimentation.

rainbowbrown's picture

Some Experimentation.

So I decided that after maintaining my starter for almost a year now and being pretty satisfied with it, that I was confused about what I was doing. I've read so many different refreshment ratios for starters that it made me doubt my own, so I split it up to try a new one. Usually I do a 2:1:1 (starter:flour:water) to double it. By the way my starter takes on slightly different forms from time to time. For no particular reason other than I haven't developed a favorite I'll either feed it wheat flour, clear flour or bread flour. Recently I came across directions for a 1:3:2 refreshment and then a 1:2:2 and shouldn't there be a 1:1:1 in there somewhere? I don't know. I figure since all these ratios called for less starter than I use, perhaps I was starving mine a little. So I experimented by using Daniel Leader's recipe for Quintessential French Sourdough. I split up my starter into two batches and put one on a 1:3:2 diet and kept the other on 2:1:1. They both did just fine until I made the final dough when the 1:3:2 became very slow. A lot slower than its brother. It ended up not rising as much as the 2:1:1 (which took about six hours) during bulk fermentation but after about ten hours I had had enough and shaped it anyway. So this is what I got:


The 1:3:2 is on the left. The 2:1:1 is on the right.


And the crumb (same positioning):



My old 2:1:1 definately won out. It tasted milder and a little better in my opinion. I don't know...I'm still a little weary. I still have to try the 1:2:2 which sounds a little more promising. I know that its been working ok the whole time I've had it so I should just leave well enough alone right? But I really think it can do better with a different approach somehow. Its always a little in the warm area, never bad never outstanding, just pretty good, when it comes to preformance and taste.


A really fun side thing that amounted from all of this was that I had so much trash starter from the experiment that I decided to do a second experiment and see what would happen if I put all my throw-away starter and scraps in a bowl a then in the oven. I used it as shaping practice for the most part. That was pretty fun and here's what arose out of that:


A connected braid and an epi.A connected braid and an epi.

And the crumb:



I thought that these came out really great, much better than I expected...until I tasted them. Oh man, where they ever bad. For one I didn't put any salt in them and for two...well two should be was meant to be trash. It was fun though. I dig the shaping practice thing.


KipperCat's picture

I was shocked at the 2:1:1 ratio, but your bread looks good.  No matter how you feed your sourdough, I believe it's ready for use at the point just after it has peaked.  THerefore the 2:1:1 starter would beready for use much sooner than the 1:3:2.  At the time you made your final dough, did you add the same total amount of starter to both batches?  Were both starters ripe when added?

rainbowbrown's picture

Yes.  At the point of putting the final dough together everything was the same, I actually just split one recipe in half and made two smaller batches.  They were both ripe as well.

staff of life's picture
staff of life

...of your post made me laugh!  I've had more than my share of experiments that went directly into the trash can.  For me, the experimentation is half the fun.  If the bread actually works out, even better.