The Fresh Loaf

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50/50 starter white and whole wheat

Sevitzky's picture

50/50 starter white and whole wheat

So, I'm trying to make use of the TONS of discard that I have, and trying to make it something with whole grains, rather than just white flour.  (health goals)

I figure if I can get my starter to be 50/50 white/wheat, then that's health-sustainable.

What kind of volume increase should I expect with this mix?

WW is supposed to give a burst of nutrients. But the bran prevents rise, so.....?

I had some starter trouble recently, and went back to 100% white, and I can get a triple volume rise on the 2nd or 3rd feeding, so I feel like I'm back in healthy SCOBY territory.  



Here's my sad story:

For 1-2 months, I started using Lindley super sprout in my starter, 100%.  It was great, doubling regularly.  And the SS WW was going nuts during bulk fermentation -- like, definitely "aliiiiive" in my best Young Frankenstein  Gene Wilder voice.  Then something weird started happening, over a couple weeks.  My starter stopped rising as much, and my loaves started getting flatter and flatter.  I was baking bricks again.  It's like all the magic elements of the SS WW were dying off or something.  I've been keeping the flour in my fridge in ziplocks, per their instructions.  I believe it's roller milled, not stone. 

So I dialed back from my 100% WW loaves to 50/50 WW.  And I took my starter back to pure white, and it's behaving predictably.  And I baked a great loaf recently, that's given me back a bit of confidence.  

So I'm kinda suspicious of WW, now, and I really want to untie this knot. Is WW always going to be finicky, and variable in terms of its behavior and performance?  (And I don't mean that it reduces rise, but that it's behavior is variable over time...)


Sugarowl's picture

My starter is 50/50 bread flour/whole wheat. No problems. Sourdough always rises slower than commercial yeast. If you're worried about bread rising with whole wheat, then try this: soak your whole wheat flour in super hot water over night. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar as well to the dough mix too. I do this and I get a better rise than if I don't.

If your starter is doing find with all white flour and then do it that way. My white flour starter rose and died too quickly so I converted it to a 50/50 blend. It is fine. I feed it, leave it out until it starts to rise then I pop it in the refridgerator until I want to use it (usually a week, not longer than 2 or I get a grey film on top).

KimberlyM's picture

Hello, Sugar,

When you say you pop it in the fridge... could you please give me more details? I am newer to sourdough baking and figuring things out.

Specifically... do you pop it in before peak? Then what do you do with the starter when you take it out? Do you have to refeed it before using? It won't rise anymore after you take it out, right?

Thanks so much.


Learning in North Carolina 

Sugarowl's picture

I wait until it's almost doubled then stick it in the refrigerator. It's hot and humid where I live, so if I leave it on the counter for days at a time it will get moldy. I also only bake with it maybe once a week. I take it out the same day I'm going to use it, or the day before if I need to add more. I only keep about 125g of it at a time, so if I need more for a recipe I take it out the day before and make what I need. When I take it out, I let it warm up to room temperature and double all the way before using it.

Also, you don't have to discard anything if you only make enough for a recipe with a little bit left over. I usually leave about 25g of starter leftover. then I add 50g water and 50g flour to it. The flour I use is 25g whole wheat and 25g bread flour. The recipe I like is the 123 sourdough recipe: It's great for beginners as it's very straight forward. I'm still a beginner and this is my favorite sourdough recipe.

If I'm not going to bake for a long time, like a month, I may dry some starter out just in case. King Arthur baking has a section on dried starter and that's what I follow. Starter can last upwards of 2 years or more in it's dried state. I've revived dried starter that was 3 years old!