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My 1 yr old starter needs... something. Help!

JettBakes's picture
JettBakes

My 1 yr old starter needs... something. Help!

Hi Friends, Long time reader but first time poster. I've been a SD baker for a little over a year now and I'm so thankful to the community of bakers - here on TFL and on IG - everyone is so generous with help. I have poured over posts here, blogs, Kristen Dennis' Fullproof Baking tutorials, Trevor Wilson's e-book, The Sourdough Podcast - you name it! I've been making Kristen's basic sourdough loaf for months now but no matter what I do I cannot get the open, lacy crumb. The exterior of my loaves are gorgeous - great rise, nice ear, crackly crust but the crumb is still pretty tight. I don't think I'm creating too much tension and while I have over and under proofed them on occasion, I don't think thats the issue. Also, I do autolyse, lamination, coil folds, etc and have good gluten development (window pane early shows that) so I don't think its any of those things. My only guess at this point is my starter. 

For a couple of months now my starter will only double  - despite attempts to optimize it over 2-3 days before building levain(Kristen Dennis' optimatization method - 3 day feeds, varying ratios from 1-1-1 to start and 1-4-4 overnight, temp between 75-80 degrees). No matter what I do I can't make it more vigorous. Double is all I ever get. I have read some posts here about increasing yeast populations or tackling weak starters and the recommendations by Debra and others haven't helped (stirring, converting to stiff starter, etc). My guess is maybe I've got too much acid and not enough yeast? 

When not baking I store it in the fridge but typically bake at least one loaf every week and create new offshoot to replace what's left fridge. Have I depleted my beasties? Thanks in advance for any help! 



JettBakes's picture
JettBakes

Crumb shot

RainingTacco's picture
RainingTacco

Can you repost the photo? I can only see the miniature. 

Edit: ok i've seen the full sized picture. Looks like you push/squezze the dough too much at the beginning of rolling your batard shape. 

phaz's picture
phaz

More gentle shaping should help ya out. Enjoy!

JettBakes's picture
JettBakes

I'm wondering what gives you the impression I'm not gentle enough with shaping? I feel like I closely mimic Kristen Dennis' shaping method which is extremely gentle. I'll pay closer attention next bake but I am curious what you see that suggests that might be the issue. Thank you both for the responses! 

RainingTacco's picture
RainingTacco

Do you increase final proofing temperature noticeably? Outer crumb with bigger holes can be also a sign of placing cool dough in a higher temperate environment. The more inward, the less bubbles, since temperature will have to penetrate there. To remedy this, maybe add some gentle folding midway final rising, to redistribute the heat.

JettBakes's picture
JettBakes

I didn’t know that. I follow Kristen Dennis’ process to the letter, proofing overnight in fridge at 37 degrees. I remove from fridge in the morning, score and bake immediately. 

RainingTacco's picture
RainingTacco

Well maybe baking immediately from the fridge is the reason of dense crumb in the middle? I know that when messing with temperature, you have to redistribute the heat evenly, either before proofing, or after proofing. Whenever i take my dough from the fridge i always try to shape it again and fold gently after some time, to spread the heat evenly. If you do everything as her and still there's discrepancy, there has to be some factor that cause this. I don't think starter can be a problem, since if you incorporate it well[see rubaud method] there's no way there can be a consistent spot in the middle with denser crumb. 

JettBakes's picture
JettBakes

Most of what I have read re lacy crumb, higher hydration bakes has said shape, overnight proof, straight to bake. The heat hitting the cold gases causes greater expansion. My mixing is good and sometimes utilize rubaud method. I’m thinking of buying some starter and seeing if I get improved results which would then suggest that it is my starter. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

JB, please post closeup images of your starter at maturity.

If you are baking breads like the one in your OP, the starter is good. I can’t imagine a more beautiful loaf!

A full sized image of your crumb would be helpful.

If you want to make your starter more active, try feeding it Whole Rye. It will energize it.

See THIS LINK, paying close attention to the portion dealing with and sourcing Organic Rye.

albacore's picture
albacore

What flours and in what proportions are you using?

 

Lance

Worthwhilebubble's picture
Worthwhilebubble

My starter really picks up when I feed it some rye. I feed it 1/4 rye and 3/4 wholemeal with 1:2:2 proportions a couple of times a week. When making bread I feed it 2 days before and then once or twice the day before and then make the levain overnight with bread flour.