#61  
Old 03-23-2010, 01:54 PM
Journeyman
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Posts: 359
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

It's a 100% starter, and there's a fair quantity of it. 3 cups of flour, 3 cups water to start. When I feed, I take out a cup of the mother, and add in a slurry of 1/2 c bread flour, 1/2 c warm water.

The weather has been very warm here in AZ. I'd guess it's about 78 degrees in here. We haven't had to turn on the ac yet, but the heater hasn't kicked on (set at 73) for quite a while. When I use the under cabinet lights (halogen) it gets extra cozy on the kitchen countertop.

I'll pull it out of the fridge and resume a more aggressive feeding schedule for a couple more weeks, just to be sure. Guess I'd better go put bread flour on the shopping list!

Thanks for all your help, everyone!
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  #62  
Old 03-24-2010, 04:34 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

That helps, Nikki!

You are right, you do have a LOT of starter. And you are directionally underfeeding it which is probably why you are getting hooch so fast. It probably IS okay and probably doesn't need two weeks of feeding.

I would strongly encourage you to get a digital scale with at least 5 gram accuracy. It makes everything a lot easier in the long run... unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool, avowed bake-by-touch afficianado.

The first point would be that the starter is not 100% hydration for hydration is measured by weight. A cup of flour weighs around 141 grams with a lot of variation. A cup of water weighs 227 so a half cup of flour and a half cup of water weigh 184 grams (about 71 and 113 respectively) and the hydration is 158% which is VERY WET.

Yeast multiplies faster in wetter leavens. (Bacteria are more constant so you get a more sour dough if you use a lower hydration leaven and bread. But this isn't about sour!) I haven't done high hydration leavens like that so I don't know the details, but I would not be surprised if a 150-160 %hydration leaven were 1.5X to 2X as fast as a 100% leaven. So your wetter leaven would use up new food somewhat to much faster.

Temp is also an issue. At 78 degrees yeast activity will be close to 2X what it is at 70 degrees. So that is also making it "fast".

And finally, you are feeding 2 cups of starter only one/half cup of flour when you feed! Which isn't very much. My personal feeding rate is to take 100 grams of 100% hydration starter (meaning it has about 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water), and doubling it by adding 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water. My starter will peak (maximum actiivity/largest expansion) in about eight hours at 70 to 72 degrees F. I don't let it go that long because I will refrigerate it and hold it - typically for a week. I find that given an hour at room temp it will be in good shape about 4 to 8 days later.

A lot of people feed at a 2 to 1 rate - i.e. taking 100 grams of starter and adding 100 of flour and 100 of water. That would take a bit longer - about overnight (from 6-7 pm to about 7 am) to peak with my starter if I left it out.

So your times are so crazy - more that you are underfeeding. Your leaven will be happier and more robust methinks if you feed at a higher expansion rate.

(As an aside when baking bread, I take my 200 grams of starter and put 100 in a bowl. I feed the 100 in the jar as described above and do a 4X expansion in the bowl, adding 200 of water and 200 of flour (usually 100 of fresh ground whole wheat and 100 of flour). That sits out over night and is usually peaking about 7 am. That is then expanded 4X to the final hydration of around 70 % (about 1200 or flour and 800 of water to the 500 grams in the bowl). Knead and fold. Form boules at about 3 hours and bake about 3 hours later (with timing very much depending on the temperature!)

Hope that is helpful!
Jay
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  #63  
Old 03-24-2010, 05:37 PM
Journeyman
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Posts: 359
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Jay--thanks! Tremendously helpful! Excellent points about using weight, not volume. I guess I didn't use my scale because the directions that came with the packet only specified using volume, no weight option, and I slavishly followed the directions, not knowing a thing about sourdough. ;-) I'll use a scale from now on.

Alrightie. I'm adjusting my methods here. I measured 200g of the starter to keep. Added 100g flour 100g water mixture to feed it. I figure I'll have to wing it to get it closer to an actual 100% ratio. I should be able to get it reasonably close with your insightful numbers.

It's been on the counter for over an hour and isn't complaining of hunger yet, so I figure I'm on the right track!
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  #64  
Old 03-24-2010, 06:32 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Super, Nikki!

You may well have a uniquely active wild yeast, but...yours was checking out as WAY BEYOND anything that really made sense.

Once you have it healthy, don't be afraid to keep only a small quantity. My reason for keeping 200 grams is that 100 makes a nice batch of bread using my expansion ratios - about 6 pounds. Many folk keep only 20 or 40 grams and begin with batches by expanding that and then pulling some to keep.

One thing to be aware of is that every sourdough starter and every baker has its/his/her own personality. Following someone elses recommendations religiously probably isn't the best answer for you. Each of us has to find the right combo...

Don't worry about the starter hydration. In only a couple of feedings it will be very close to the "proper" 100% - close enough not to worry. If you want more sour consider going to an 80% starter OR go to a bigger first expansion and longer time followed by a smaller second expansion and slightly shorter finishing rises.

With experience it all makes sense!

Good Luck!
Jay
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  #65  
Old 03-25-2010, 09:00 AM
Serf
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Cloverdale Calif
Posts: 6
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

I am starting my first loaves of truly sourdough loaves. please try the website sourdo.com and read some very interesting facts. Ron
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  #66  
Old 03-25-2010, 12:29 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Are you using one of Ed's starters or did you make your own? (I started with his French culture about eight years ago.)

Good Luck! (and if you are following Ed's volume based recipes you may need it! Let me know what problems you encounter and I can help get you past them.)
Jay
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  #67  
Old 03-25-2010, 03:16 PM
Serf
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Cloverdale Calif
Posts: 6
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Jay, I bought the book and two starters: The San Francisco, and the Italian starter. I am in the process of reading the book and getting all the equipment ready. Proofing container etc. I will take you up on the problems I encounter though. Thanks Ron
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  #68  
Old 03-25-2010, 03:43 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

His book is a good starting point. Volume measurement invites inconsistency and that can give you fits. IF you like the breads you make and want to get serious you will definitely want to switch to a scale (and digital tare scales are really nice). There is a strong tendency in the sourdough/artisanal bread community to want to make wet doughs for it gives bigger holes. Wet doughs are challenging and I would strongly urge you to be on the drier side at firste where you can handle the dough with no problems. (Say 60% hydration for AP or 64 for bread flour - hydration where the dough is at best barely sticky.) It simply makes life easier!

Good Luck!
Jay
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  #69  
Old 03-25-2010, 08:02 PM
Serf
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Cloverdale Calif
Posts: 6
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

Jay , I have a big Thermador oven , 54in, can I make that a proof box with the heat at consistant temperature that is specified.? He says to make one out of cooler and put a light bulb in it? thanks for all the info. you have experience and I appreciate the help. I am really apprehensive about starting the process. ron
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  #70  
Old 03-27-2010, 10:19 AM
Apprentice
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 121
Default Re: Sour Dough Starter...

We have a 36" Viking range, and I tried putting a digital thermometer (like this one Digital Cooking Thermometer) in there with the light on to see what temp it would hit but it never got over 75 degrees.

I ended up building a wooden proofing box out of some spare plywood and put a 25 watt light bulb in it attached to a dimmer switch (~$10 of parts from Home Depot). I then kept the digital thermometer in the box with the light on and it stayed at a consistent temp for proofing. That worked great for getting the sourdough starter going. Since then I have not used the box much and have just been doing the proofing on the counter or in a slightly pre-heated oven.

I definitely recommend using an accurate thermometer to be sure your in the right temp range. You could probably get by using an upside down cardboard box with a regular light bulb in it. Just try it out empty for a day to see if you can keep the appropriate temp.

The sourdough has been great. All my yeast is sitting in the fridge expired because I have not used it in a year. Good luck!
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