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Sourdough starters

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  • Sourdough starters

    Are they to be used only when making sourdough or rye, or can they be used in other bread types as well...like french baguettes, pizza dough, etc?
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  • #2
    Re: Sourdough starters

    RL,

    A wild yeast levain, or whatever you want to call it, can be used to make any sort of dough, from baguette to rolls to pizza dough. You must, however, compensate in the formula for the weight and hydration of the levain, be it liquid or firm. Here's where the deadly math comes in. Suggest you get hold of Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice to start you off. He has all sorts of recipes that use wild yeast and tips on how to convert other recipes for using it.

    Jim
    "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

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    • #3
      Re: Sourdough starters

      Originally posted by CanuckJim View Post
      RL,

      A wild yeast levain, or whatever you want to call it, can be used to make any sort of dough, from baguette to rolls to pizza dough. You must, however, compensate in the formula for the weight and hydration of the levain, be it liquid or firm. Here's where the deadly math comes in. Suggest you get hold of Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice to start you off. He has all sorts of recipes that use wild yeast and tips on how to convert other recipes for using it.

      Jim
      Thanks Jim.

      I have his book, but I noticed a lot of his recipes call for instant yeast, and its not until you get to the part on sourdough that he calls for the wild variety. So if you use it in other recipes do you still use the instant yeast as well? Also, is there a certain amount of levain you should use, or is it just adjusted to taste?
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      • #4
        Re: Sourdough starters

        RL,

        First off, no, it's not adjusted to taste. The total baker's percentage of any formula can't be disturbed; you just have to factor the flour weight and hydration level of the levain into the total formula. Normally, you just use the wild yeast on its own, but at the end of the book Reinhart has a borrowed recipe that's "spiked," that is it uses both wild yeast and instant. Look for the Potato, Cheddar, Chive Torpedo. It's a fine bread; very showy.

        I can't give you a set amount or set way to use a levain; it depends on the formula and takes lots and lots of practice. Read up on the theoretical parts at the front of the book, then go through the wild yeast recipes, one by one, until you find a formula where he talks about wild yeast being used instead of instant.

        The very best thing to do would be to propagate your starter then begin with a simple sourdough recipe. Once you've mastered that, you'll be much more confident making conversions. All wild yeast doughs, unless they're spiked, raise much more slowly than commercial yeast doughs.

        Dutch,

        What's your take on this?

        Jim
        "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

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        • #5
          Re: Sourdough starters

          Thanks! I'm still reading his book, but the recent talk of wild yeast sparked my interest and raised a few questions.
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          • #6
            Re: Sourdough starters

            Originally posted by CanuckJim View Post
            Normally, you just use the wild yeast on its own, but at the end of the book Reinhart has a borrowed recipe that's "spiked," that is it uses both wild yeast and instant. Look for the Potato, Cheddar, Chive Torpedo. It's a fine bread; very showy.
            I recently made this recipe: once without the potato, the other time with; both times without the addtional spiking of yeast. Rising took longer than the recipe stated, but both were quite excellent breads.

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            • #7
              Re: Sourdough starters

              IMHO you should really do as Jim suggested and get comfortable with basic sourdough recipes and the baker's percentage before you start playing with the "fire" of wild yeasts in other types of bread recipes. If you really get the hang of how the hydration level and flour percentages of things like preferments relate to your breads first. You can then, I think, begin to consider the "levain" much like a preferment with much more complexity. Important to remember that you really have to learn to juggle all the variables very well before embarked on pure wild yeasted bread. they are very sensitive to subtle changes in time, temperature, humidity, etc.
              Does that make sense to you Jim?
              Best to you all!
              Dutch
              Oh, spiking can be fun but not as fulfilling as purely wild yeasted!!!
              "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
              "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch

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              • #8
                Re: Sourdough starters

                Originally posted by Dutchoven View Post
                Oh, spiking can be fun but not as fulfilling as purely wild yeasted!!!
                AMEN!

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                • #9
                  Re: Sourdough starters

                  Dutch,

                  You've nailed it. Taking your approach reduces the number of variables and shows the true action of the levain without being masked by other things.

                  Jim
                  "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

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                  • #10
                    Re: Sourdough starters

                    If you find it hard to do the maths with wild yeast, you can find a handy on-line calculator (that can take account of the various proportions of flour / water in your starter) at pizzamaking.com's Preferment Pizza Dough Calculator. You should also be able to use it for bread.

                    Peter.

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