Author Topic: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?  (Read 1458 times)

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Offline bfguilford

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At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« on: September 20, 2012, 01:16:52 PM »
My starter will generally triple in volume after I feed it (dump 1/4 cup and feed it 1/4 cup flour and equal weight of water). My question is at what "stage of development" do you use it? When it is at its maximum volume (tripled in my case)? When it is on it's way up (say, doubled)? Other?

Barry
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Offline dellavecchia

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Re: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2012, 02:28:27 PM »
My starter will generally triple in volume after I feed it (dump 1/4 cup and feed it 1/4 cup flour and equal weight of water). My question is at what "stage of development" do you use it? When it is at its maximum volume (tripled in my case)? When it is on it's way up (say, doubled)? Other?

Barry

According to Suas (Advanced Bread and Pastry), when the doming just starts to fall in onto itself, it is ready to go. Now if you have a rip roaring starter that is tripling, you might be able to use it at an earlier stage. But if the tripling occurs over the course of more than 4 hours, I would wait for the doming and then use.

Another test, which is discussed in Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson is the "float test". Take a spoonful of starter and drop it into a bowl of water. If it floats, it is good to use. Now he tends to use much younger starters in large percentages (20% or more of flour), so it might not apply to your particular pizza making workflow.

John

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2012, 05:06:09 PM »
I agree with John. Another reason to use it just as it starts to fall is that it gives you a repeatable point of reference for the activity level. One key to getting consistant results from a starter is to use it as close to the same activity level as possible every time. This is particularly important with small amounts of starter and long room temp (>60F) fermentations. Doing this will really help you forecast when your dough will be ready.
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Offline bfguilford

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Re: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2012, 06:34:42 PM »
Thanks John and Craig. That all makes sense to me.

This starter only 5 days old, and I think it'll turn out to be a powerhouse. Right now, it seems to be tripling in a little over 4 hours, and holding for around 2 more hours before it starts to pull back a lot (I haven't been watching it very closely). I'll keep feeding it twice a day and keep a closer watch on it for when it starts to fall after doming. I'm going try to bake a no-knead bread (14 hour room temp ferment, followed by another 1:30 after shaping) with it in another day and a half. I've got some experience with sourdough bread (even though it may not sound like it from the question... my other starter is nowhere near this active), so that should give me a better idea of its readiness.

Barry
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 09:10:10 PM by bfguilford »
Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Offline bfguilford

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Re: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2012, 09:07:53 PM »
Since the starter volume tripled in 4 hours last night, and then domed in hour 5, I got impatient and decided to put together the no-knead bread dough. 100% organic KABF (first time I've ever baked a bread without any whole grain flour in it, but I didn't want to waste any of the Central Milling Type 85 if it wasn't going to work out). 1/4 cup of Ischia (which is what Jim Leahy says to replace the 1/4 tsp of IDY). After a 12 hour first rise, the dough had more than doubled so I shaped it. It was a very wet, slack dough, and was a bit of an adventure (OK... it was a real mess) to try to shape it. I've noticed that when I've used Carl's Oregon Trail starter in the dough before, but never to this extent.

After another 1-1/2 hour second rise (with a lot less volume expansion, which seems typical of this bread), I popped it into the preheated Le Creuset "french" oven and baked it at 475 for 30 minutes with the cover on, followed by 20 minutes with the cover off. Internal temperature of 212 degrees. Pretty good oven spring considering how slack the dough was, and the crumb is also pretty good.

Not the prettiest looking loaf (you can see how it cracked all over the place) because of how difficult it was to lift it after shaping to get it into the french oven, but it served my purpose of figuring out whether the starter was active enough to bake with. The sourdough taste was very (very) mild.

I think I'll keep feeding it for a while longer before I attempt my first pie with it.

Barry
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 09:10:17 PM by bfguilford »
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Offline dellavecchia

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Re: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2012, 08:48:25 AM »
Great looking crumb on that bread. I think that your starter is ready to use, no doubt. Did you slash the bread before baking? That will mitigate the cracks and allow for more expansion.

John

Offline bfguilford

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Re: At what stage of starter activity do you add it to your recipe?
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2012, 12:42:31 PM »
Great looking crumb on that bread. I think that your starter is ready to use, no doubt. Did you slash the bread before baking? That will mitigate the cracks and allow for more expansion.

John

Thanks John. Yes... I did 4 slashes across the top, but I knew this was going to happen because of how the dough was so awkward to shape and, more specifically, how sloppy it was when I picked it up to put it into the proofing container after shaping (I worked my dough scraper under it, which probably cause it to tear a bit), and again when I put it into the pot to bake. I remember thinking, "Oh boy, this is going to be ugly." I was right!

Barry
Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.