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Timing of Starter in Sourdough

alonewitheverybody's picture

Timing of Starter in Sourdough

Hi guys,

Need your advice on this. To make a starter for baking, I take a small portion from the mother starter that was kept in the fridge at around 4C (39F) and refresh it with the ratio of 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water). The temperature of my kitchen is averagely 30C (86F) and I observe that the starter usually take about 3 hours to double at this temperature.

Assuming the timing of each step is as follows: Autolyse 60mins, Add levain 15mins, Add salt 15mins, first stretch and fold 30mins, second stretch and fold 30mins, third stretch and fold 30mins, rest of the bulk fermentation 60mins. Total time is about 240mins until the BK completes.

Let's say I refresh the starter at 8am and by 11am it should double, so i were to work backwards, do you think it is advisable to add the starter at 10am, which means the autolyse will start at 9am because by the time the last stretch and fold completes, the starter's activities should peak and in time for the rest of the bk without any handling. If not, should I wait for the starter to double before adding it to the autolysed dough instead? The reason I'm suggesting this is because I can cut short the timing, probably by a couple of hours.

Thanks. KL




BaniJP's picture

You should definitely wait until your starter is mature. At that point almost all of the sugars are eaten and the amount of yeasts and bacteria is at peak level.

If you add it too early, it would take longer to ferment, maybe even longer than it usually would.

DanAyo's picture

KL, let me make sure I understand. Are you asking if it is good practice to add your levain after it was refreshed for 2 hr instead of 3?

If so, you may want to rethink that. Just because a starter doubles is not an indication that your starter is fully matured. Many starters triple and some quadruple before maturity is full reached.

As you know, at 30C (86F) fermentation is taking place at an accelerated pace. Your process may work for you, but you are probably using a very young levain.

By the way - the bulk ferment technically starts when the levain is added to the dough. As described above your BF is actually 180 minutes, since the autolyse time is not taken into account.