The Fresh Loaf

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Tripled, Finally

louiscohen's picture
louiscohen

Tripled, Finally

I've been having a tough time transitioning to sourdough from yeasted bread.  For several months now, things rarely worked as described in books or YouTube videos.  I have been making adjustments based on some tips in videos and websites, and finally got an OK country sourdough using the formula that came with the B & T proofer.  

But I had never, ever, seen my starter triple.  It took a while to culture one that doubled, but I never got close to tripling.

Until today.

I had been baking twice a week using a 100% rye starter per "The Rye Baker".  It would reliably double in ~12 hrs at room temp.  Because of some travel, my last bake and starter refresh was a week ago.  When I took the starter out of the fridge today, it had almost doubled.  After 4 hrs in the proofer at 80℉, it actually tripled.   Before I put it into the proofer, I scooped out 7g and did my regular 1:10:10 refresh, in another jar, and put that in the proofer too.  Here's what they looked like after 4 hrs: Rye Starter after 4 hrs in the proofer

I am so delighted with the tripling that I am going to try using the tripled starter in the next loaf in place of the levain.  Swapping in the 100% rye starter in place of a whole wheat levain with a bit of rye will probably lead to a lower laof.  But maybe with the tripling the rye will be so active that it makes up for some of the difference.  

I am about to mix and ferment the dough; I'll do a retarded proof in the fridge and bake tomorrow.  Photos then, unless it's a disaster.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

like a smaller feed ratio should match the regular timings, perhaps try a 1:5:5   A one to ten ratio might be overfeeding. Or wait a little longer giving the starter time for "signs of life" before storing in thr fridge.  The starter will react to room and ingredient temps after refreshing and need longer or less time as temps change up or down. Curious about the room and water temps.

louiscohen's picture
louiscohen

Here is the maintenance refresh page from "The Rye Baker"

 

He says it will triple but it never has before I tried warming it up at 80 F.   But over a week it did double in the fridge.

He recommends 105 F water.  Room temp is generally low 70's F; at that temp it will double in 12 hrs.  

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Louis I also have a 100% hydration 100% whole rye starter.  It will triple when fed.  I bake with it once or twice per week when my schedule allows it.  I feed it once per week and the rest of the time it is in the fridge.

I use a no waste maintenance plan for my starter.  After the one or two bakes I aim to have no more than 5 g of starter.  I try to plan ahead figuring out how much starter I need for the week and feed my starter based on that amount.  So if I need 30 g of starter for my two bakes I’ll feed my 5 g of starter 15 g water and 15 g flour for a 1:3:3 ratio.  After being fed, it goes into the proofer at 82°F and generally it has tripled within 6 hours.  It then goes into the fridge until it is needed, coming out just to remove the amount of starter to build a levain then returning to the fridge.

louiscohen's picture
louiscohen

Thanks, that's very interesting and useful.  I'm not surprised (now) that your rye starter triples at 82 F.  It's a little annoying that "The Rye Baker"  claims it triples at room temp (and he apparently lives in the same city I do).

I want to try your process, specifically:

  • Growing the starter out fully (triple) before putting it in the fridge.  It turns out on a closer reading that that is exactly what "Tbe Rye Baker" recommends (although he says 10-12 hrs at room temp).  I thought that other sources said that you want to feed your starter when it peaks.   Maybe refrigerating a rye starter at peak works better than it would for a wheat flour starter,
  • Since the refrigerated starter is at peak (presumably dormant there so that it doesn't go hungry) it goes right into the levain, no warming up to get to peak needed (but maybe hotter water to bring the levain up to DDT).  Do I understand correctly that the starter might have been in the fridge 3 days or a week and then it goes straight into the levain without a feeding?

Please let me know if I have misunderstood any part of your process.  Thanks again.  I'm going to take my dormant starter (barely any visible growth since it went into the fridge) and put it in the proofer.  When it has grown, back into the fridge.  

Benito's picture
Benito

If I was trying to rev up a new starter or if my starter became sluggish (which it hasn’t ever since I started only feeding it whole rye) or baking daily I would keep it out of the fridge for several days.  Each time it peaks, I would discard and feed. So if I was baking daily then yes I would feed, allow to peak, use some and feed it again etc etc.

However, because that isn’t what I’m doing I do a single feed each week.  I believe you understand my process correctly.

I know some bakers will refrigerate their starters before they peak, or when peaked give it a bit of extra food through a small feed and then place it in the fridge.  The thinking being that the starter will have food while it is in the fridge for the week.  However, I find that creates some variability in the state of the starter that makes my baking less predictable.  I also find that my starter works as well when used right after peak immediately or on any days during the following 7 days after feeding so to make my baking as predictable as possible, I do the same thing every time, feed, peak, refrigerate.  It just works.

One comment though, I keep my fridge at 3°C and that is important.  At 3.9°C or less there is no reproductive activity in the LAB or yeast.  I’ve measured the temperature of my fridge in the exact location that I keep my starter and know that it is in fact 3°C.  If your fridge is 4°C or higher then there will be more activity in your starter while in the fridge and my starter maintenance may not work quite as well.  So place a glass of water in the exact location you will keep your starter for the week.  Several hours later measure its temperature.  If it is 4°C or more then you should consider getting the temperature down just another degree.

Benny

albacore's picture
albacore

Benny, just out of interest, what is the pH of your rye starter at peak?

Lance

Benito's picture
Benito

I haven’t checked the pH on my rye starter in many many months.  When I used to check the pH of my starter I’d get pH in the range of 3.6-3.8 at peak.  How about your starter Lance, you’ll have to remind me what type of starter you keep and do you know the pH at peak?

albacore's picture
albacore

I have a rye and a wheat starter, Benny.

I wasn't entirely happy with the wheat one - loaf height was lower than I would like and some spread on the peel. Also dough pH didn't come down as low as I thought it should.

So I've just made another wheat starter; at the moment I'm feeding it twice a day 1/12/12, 24C, and pH drops to 3.8.

I don't understand when bakers feed something like 1/2/2 twice a day - it must get exhausted quickly, unless the temp is very low?

I'd like to keep feeding twice daily, but I think it's just too much work in a non-commercial setting; I think I'll have to go back to cold storage. And at some point I might consolidate and just use the rye, since they are considered to be more robust.

Lance

Benito's picture
Benito

Yes these bakers doing twice a day feedings at only 1:2:2 must be doing this at a cool temperature for sure otherwise the starters would be starving between feedings.

I couldn’t manage doing twice per day feedings, once per week is enough for me.  My rye starter has been robust with refrigeration for well over a year now.

louiscohen's picture
louiscohen

Thanks very much for the very clear detail and the note about the fridge.  Essentially your starter peaks and you put it into suspended animation, holding right at peak.  

I just changed our fridge setting down 2 F to 37 F which is 2.8 C.  That should give me enough margin wherever the starter jar ends up.  I considered switching the units and going to 3 C directly, but not all of our household are metric and some people might freak out if they saw the fridge set to 3.  

louiscohen's picture
louiscohen

After you grow out your starter to triple, it goes into the fridge until needed.  When you pull it out to get what you need for the levain, do you stir the starter down first?  Or just spoon the weight you need off the top, bubbles and all?

I'm not sure it would make any difference, except that stirring might bring some food within reach of the yeast and bacteria that have eaten everything near them.  But, then, nothing much is happening in your 3 C fridge, so the beasties don't really need food.  

Thanks

Benito's picture
Benito

I just remove what I need by weight, I never bother to stir my starter again after the initial mix.


Benny