The Fresh Loaf

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Activating my starter

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Activating my starter

Hello, 

for years I have activated my starter by adding half a cup of starter from the fridge to a cup of flour and a cup of water.

I leave this for 12 hours before adding another half cup of flour and half cup of water and leaving for another 4 hours.

Today I activated my starter with half cup starter, whole cup flour, whole cup water, and I put it in the oven on a 'dough proving' setting. The whole thing doubled in size in four hours.

My question is, is this now ready to use? Or should I go through that second process of adding more flour? What does the second addition actually achieve? I only do it because I was following a recipe from back in the day. But I wonder whether, if the starter has doubled in size, isn't that the best indicator it is now completely active and ready to use?

Any help gratefully received. Especially as I now have a bowl of what might well be active starter ready to use!!! 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Measuring flour in cups is very inaccurate, and actually 1:1 flour:water by volume will give you a very liquidy starter. That's just an FYI.

However if it doubled in 4 hours I'd say that's a very healthy and active starter, so go ahead and use it!

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

Thank you very much for the reply Ilya,

yes, I was just simplifying the amounts for the post. My starter is 100% hydration.

I agree with you, it seems the starter must be healthy if it is doubling in size so quickly, and I'm going to use it now.

I wonder why the recipe I have followed for years required the two stages of activation? Any clues?

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

For safety, just in case someone's starter is not as active as yours? And as phaz says below, even with an active starter one vs two refreshments will likely affect the process and/or outcome a little - so you will see for yourself if things go any differently this time than usual, and whether you are ok with skipping a second refreshment every time from now on.

benjamin163's picture
benjamin163

I hope so.

This 'dough fermenting' option on my new oven looks like it's cutting my activating the starter down from 18 hours to about 4!

I won't speak too soon though, let's see about those results. Thank you.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Temperature is a huge factor. Is it rather cold in your home?

phaz's picture
phaz

Rising x high amount in y amount of time is what the majority use as an indicator of a strong starter, so go with it. That's what has been working and most likely will keep working. Do bear in mind though, changing the starter will change other things down the line. Seems you have a process down, wouldn't want to change that! Enjoy!