% of starter in sourdough recipe

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by angrychef, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. angrychef

    angrychef

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    I've been reading up on sourdoughs and am a bit confused on the amount of starter used for basic sourdough bread and its relation to fermentation time. It seems it ranges from 30% all the way to 95%. I just made the sourdough from the Bread Baker's Apprentice where the starter is at 50%(and used a firm starter) and just for experimentation I made one with 60% starter(used the barm and reduced the recipes water %). The results were good but a bit on the dense side. I was out of bread flour so I had to use AP. So in regards to sourdough breads, does the use of a higher % of starter mean shorter fermentation or is it just for flavor? Artisan Baking has recipes were the starter is at 30% requiring 3-4 hrs. ferm. while Reinhart has a recipe using 95% starter requiring the same time. Also, is it advisable to add a small amount of diastatic malt to the recipe?
    Thanks.
     
  2. kylew

    kylew

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    In talking to all kinds of people about this, Including our very own BigHat, I have found that what you need when baking sourdough is 8 hours. Any combination of fermenting and proofing that totals 8 hours usually gets the job done. If you build a dough where the starter is @100% you may find that the timetable is accelerated.

    It's tough to talk about " a basic sourdough" because everyone's idea of it is going to be different. One of the things I like about sourdough is that it lends itself to all kinds of experimentation and variations. I would stay in the 30%-50% ballpark and fine tune that. My suspicion is that your density problems are a: a hydration issue & b: an underproofing issue. If you push the envelope a little on both fronts, my geuss is that your crumb will open up.
     
  3. thebighat

    thebighat

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    The sourdough in Crust and Crumb has I think 127% firm starter. He scales that waaay back in The Apprentice. You can put as much or as little as you want but will have to adjust the water in the dough. Gotta wonder if you went too far down if you'd have to do another build.
     
  4. kylew

    kylew

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    In C&C he uses firm starter = 92.5% and water = 59%. In BBA he uses Firm Starter = 49.4% and water = 64.2%. He also tweaked the firm starter. In C&C barm = 178% with no water and in BBA it's 88.9% and water = 33.3%
     
  5. angrychef

    angrychef

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    Thanks Kyle and bighat! I followed BBA recipe to the letter. Left boules out 2 hrs. and then retard in fridge overnight. I got the sour flavor and beautiful crust but semi-dense crumb. Still delicious slathered with butter! I will try next time with B.flour and up the water. I didn't detect a difference in "sourness" using the barm in comparison to the firm starter. Should one be more sour than the other? Also, about the malt? Is Eden barley malt syrup non-diastatic?
     
  6. kylew

    kylew

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    Try buliding the dough from the barm and not retarding. Just ferment 3-4 and proof 3-4. I had some pretty suprising results. I'm not sure about Eden.
     
  7. angrychef

    angrychef

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    Just finished baking two sourdough boules and I am very happy with the results. I couldn't wait for it to cool(I know, my bad) so I cut into one, and I've got big airy holes, crunchy crust and good sour flavor(though still very warm so sourness not too discernible). I used bread flour, got it as hydrated as I could(I kneaded by hand), fermented 3 hours(it was very warm in my kitchen 85F), shaped and tucked into baskets and retarded overnight because there was no way I was going to bake bread at 10pm. Formula used:

    Barm 60 %
    Bread Flour 100 %
    Water 65-70 %
    Salt 2.5 %

    Now there's no way I could get on those anti-carb diets!
     
  8. kylew

    kylew

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    Very cool :) Howlong between taking them out of the fridge anf popping them in the oven?
     
  9. angrychef

    angrychef

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    About 90 minutes. I let it proof last night about 60 minutes before sticking them in the fridge. I gather you need to either let them proof a bit at room temp before or after retarding? Anyway, it is very warm again today(85F again in Seattle!) so I'm not guaranteed it will take 90 min. next time....
    Next I will try the method you suggested. But for that I have to wait for my day off.
     
  10. alexia

    alexia

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    I've been making sourdough with (basically) good result, except that my loaf doesn't spring up as much as I like but spreads out instead. The taste is good and the texture perhaps a touch more dense than desired. I've been proofing it a couple hours at room temp before giving it a 12 hours in the fridge. I've baked it immediately after removing from fridge and also after letting it rest an hour at room temperature with the same lack of spring.

    Any thoughts?
     
  11. kylew

    kylew

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    There could be a couple of things going on here. The first might be the dough itself. Dense loaves can be a sign of underhydration. In breadmaking in general, and in sourdough specifically, wetter is better. THe finished dough should feel tacky, like the back of a post-it note. If your dough is smooth and very easily handled, you probably need to add more water.

    As to the proofing times and retarding the loaves, I'm thinking that you are underproofing your loaves. Sourdoughs need really long proofing. The total time for fermentation and proofing should be around 8 hours. If you ferment the dough for 4 hours, then the loaves should proof for 4 hours. If you ferment for 2 hours, then proof for 5 etc. This is regardless of whether or not you retard your loaves. If you shape and proof for 1 hour and then retard, you will need about an hour for the dough to warm up and an additional 2-3 hours for the loaves to finish proofing.

    Just one man's opinion :)
     
  12. alexia

    alexia

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    Kyle, thanks for the tips. I think I'm probably adding too much flour. Particulary since the bread seems denser than what I understand it should be. After I made the dough and rested it on the counter a couple hours, it seemed too loose to me and I added more flour so that it was no longer so sticky and could be hand kneaded. I think I erroneously had the texture of yeast bread which I've previously made as the model for what the sourdough texture should be.

    I'll address that issue first and see what happens, then go on to the question of how long I proof it. But do I understand you correctly that the time it rests in the fridge is not to be considered proofing? Only the time at room temperature? I thought [read "misunderstood"?] it was a slow proofing when it sat in the fridge 12+ hours.
     
  13. kylew

    kylew

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    the time it rests in the fridge is not to be considered proofing?

    Yes, this is the way I operate. By chilling the loaves, you are "retarding" the yeast activity. The bacteria are alive and kicking at the reduced temp, which allows the flavor to continue to develop. You have to give the yeast a chance to warm/wake up and do its job as well. There really is no way to speed up the process.

    As to the texture issue, you don't want the dough to sick to your hands, but it should feel like it wants to :) The more often you do it, the better you will know when your dough has hit the sweet spot.