Author Topic: Weak or Immature Starter?  (Read 471 times)

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Online rparker

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Weak or Immature Starter?
« on: March 07, 2015, 10:47:09 AM »
My first starter. I followed the how to make your own starter recipe and method on the King Arthur site. Mostly just to get a feel for the process. Yesterday was day-10. It had a great deal of bubbles on it from the very early days. It turned to a yogurt consistency by day 4 or 5. It never had that big, 4-hour doubling thing. It's been consistently increasing in size by 30%, 6-8 hours after each twice daily feedings for 5-7 days. Smell became much less pungent maybe 4-5 days ago.

It was time to test it in a mix. No assist from IDY.

I decided to look at Craig's chart and pick a starter-% based on 70.5F counter temperature for 18 hours. That was 7.5%. I guesstimated that my starter was half as strong as the average starter based on low growth. I used 15% starter in my formulation.

6:00 PM - Finished mixing and into bowl for a 2 hour bulk rise.

8:00 PM - Balled, back to bowl.

11:45 PM - 1/2 dozen very small balls starting, dough had relaxed maybe 1/2 way. 

7:30 AM - Quite a few bubbles and dough relaxed. Not too much or too big. Growth was nice. Maybe 50-75% more than original size?

8:30 AM - No more growth to speak of, but bubbles steadily growing. Not too much yet. Two small bumps on top skin indicated that bubbles were going to form there, so I put the container out in the garage. I'll pull it out at 10:30 AM.

These pics were taken at 10:05. Fermentation times of 14-1/2 hours at 71F and 1-1/2 hours at 37F. The smaller bubbles underneath grew in number and maybe size a good bit as it cooled out in the garage. The slightly bigger bubbles look about the same. The top is flirting with what I think is active, but not alarmingly so. Also a picture of my starter at about 11 hours. I'm going to feed it when done this.

fwiw, the dough ball should be about 400g for a .090TF at 14-inches.

Should I not have assumed my starter was weaker than "average"?
If weaker, maybe 1/2 as weak no accurate?
Anyone care to offer an opinion of my dough ball as far as being under or over fermented? If I was using IDY and got here, I don't think I'd be upset in the least.

Any tips based on anything seen in my descriptions or pictures also appreciated.   :)
Maybe they should just make white T-shirts with pizza juice stains already on them.

Online rparker

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 01:41:40 PM »
Follow up to this morning's starter, mix dough ferment stages.

The bake was very good. Oven spring was great. Maybe even a bit too much. I'll certainly will not increase the starter percentages anymore when looking at the predictive model chart. 

Noticeable SD flavor, but not over-powering. Very tasty. We all like my regular dough's flavor better. I think going with a 2-day cold ferment might get me that element back. The sweet element was there earlier in the week when I did a two-day cold ferment test using 3-day(?) old starter discard. Today's baked much, much, much better, but the other one had greater flavor.

So, my next step is to make a few balls and try combinations of cold and warm ferment times using the chart. I'll stick to the starter percentages I use in the chart, too. No question that the yeast in this SD starter performed very well.

What a fun start to this line of experiments! Fun stuff.   ;D

 

 
« Last Edit: March 07, 2015, 01:53:26 PM by rparker »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2015, 01:42:02 PM »
The dough looks good. I think it could probably use a bit more fermentation than see in the picture. Lots of small bubbles is a good thing, IMO.

The only thing to do is experiment and figure out what works best for you with your starter.
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2015, 01:46:55 PM »
Follow up to this morning's starter, mix dough ferment stages.

The bake was very good. Oven spring was great. Maybe even a bit too much. I'll certainly increase the starter percentages anymore when looking at the predictive model chart

Noticeable SD flavor, but not over-powering. Very tasty. We all like my regular dough's flavor better. I think going with a 2-day cold ferment might get me that element back. The sweet element was there earlier in the week when I did a two-day cold ferment test using 3-day(?) old starter discard. Today's baked much, much, much better, but the other one had greater flavor.

So, my next step is to make a few balls and try combinations of cold and warm ferment times using the chart. I'll stick to the starter percentages I use in the chart, too. No question that the yeast in this SD starter performed very well.

What a fun start to this line of experiments! Fun stuff.   ;D


Did you mean to say that you won't increase the starter % anymore?

I don't recommend CF for SD. In my experience, once you drop much below 60F, you start loosing quality in every single attribute.
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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2015, 01:52:37 PM »
The dough looks good. I think it could probably use a bit more fermentation than see in the picture. Lots of small bubbles is a good thing, IMO.

The only thing to do is experiment and figure out what works best for you with your starter.
Thanks, Craig. I will most certainly do that.

Great chart you made, too. Thanks for that as well.   8)

Did you mean to say that you won't increase the starter % anymore?
Yes, that is precisely what I meant. I will go change.

I don't recommend CF for SD. In my experience, once you drop much below 60F, you start loosing quality in every single attribute.
Drats!

I'll do some research to find the tweak(s) needed.

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2015, 09:56:56 AM »
I start my next round of experimenting today. I've read that I should get my starter out to use before the peak and subsequent sinking. I let it get to that point before the last SD mix & bake.

I've divided up my starter. One is fed and will go back into fridge after it's fully developed. In other words, business as usual.

A second and equal portion went into a different container.  I'll take the starter out and do a mix before it gets super bubbly and reaches it's peak. I'm going to go with 5% starter. I've got a few different experiments in mind, so may be mixing up two separate batches.

After I've gotten the start out that I need, I'm going to put the under developed starter into the fridge. It's my hope that by doing so, I can preserve the qualities that makes this a less acidic (or less bitter?) tasting starter. No idea if it will work. I guess doing a mix in a couple of days will tell.

One great big thing I don't know. Does the under-developed starter strategy result in the natural yeast being a lot lower than if I let the starter fully develop?

Another question, is the taking your starter out before the peak rising and bubbling level results in a less acidic flavor argument valid?

In a semi-related question. The book by Tony G that lots of folks have around here has a starter section. Would that provide a good primer to the SD pizza world, or should I not read that part and go get the SD book by Ed Woods? (from sourdo.com)



 
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Offline corkd

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 10:26:33 AM »
I have Ed Wood's book. It is excellent, but honestly there's so much SD info & experience on this forum you don't really need it.
By the way, your pizzas & dough look excellent.

Clay
« Last Edit: March 12, 2015, 10:28:34 AM by corkd »

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2015, 10:56:17 AM »
I have Ed Wood's book. It is excellent, but honestly there's so much SD info & experience on this forum you don't really need it.
By the way, your pizzas & dough look excellent.

Clay
Thanks for the compliments.  :)

Agreed about the expertise around here. One challenge of this format is that all of the intel is spread around various threads. That makes it difficult to piece it all together.
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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2015, 02:10:30 PM »
My first bake of round #3 is in the books. My stab at getting rid of the acidy, bitter taste was a success. Removing the starter at what ended up being about 3-4 hours before it peaked did wonders. This was really close to the taste of a batch using some discard from when my started was not quite starter.

I followed the predictive model and wound up just a bit under-fermented. Not quite as done as the one a few days ago. I'd say I was just a couple hours short. The dough had increased greatly, but the bubbles underneath were not as pronounced and the oven spring not as great. Still very good and I did get acceptable spring. I'm betting that this is because of a yeast deficiency caused by taking starter out before it peaked. I wish I had taken pictures.  ::)

Next up are 1-3 test trying to learn and get a feel for why the cold ferment thing is ill-advised. (Craig, I'm not ignoring you. I'm exploring. Learning and empirical knowledge are too closely related for me. I love to see, smell, feel and taste the issues. Yeah, I'm that much of a dork.)



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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2015, 06:23:00 PM »
Next up are 1-3 test trying to learn and get a feel for why the cold ferment thing is ill-advised. (Craig, I'm not ignoring you. I'm exploring. Learning and empirical knowledge are too closely related for me. I love to see, smell, feel and taste the issues. Yeah, I'm that much of a dork.)

Understood, and I'm looking forward to hearing if your experience with CF and SD matches up with mine. If not, maybe we can learn something new.
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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2015, 02:57:01 PM »
I'm sure I'm regurgitating things seen on these boards dozens of times, but it's all new to me.  :)

Craig, it did change form before and after the fridge rise. Not sure how to classify it. Description below.

OK, so this did not totally bomb. In fact, the flavor was everything I was looking for - plus more. It got OMG reactions from the little mrs. I think my son got some in his lungs from the pizza inhaling. I think his statement was, "This tastes great, didn't it?"

Texture was tender, and the crunch was very nice where it didn't wrinkle and fold from the bad launch. Nice bite and chew. A little puffy, perhaps even a bit too bready.

Now that I think on it some more, if I wasn't so deep into getting a NY(-ish) style with crunch while avoiding all things about the American genre, this was a damned fine pie. It'd be like turning down a fresh strawberry because you wanted a fresh apple. I do abhor the chains and/or bad conveyor belt pies, fwiw, and this tasted nothing like any of that. I don't know what I ended up with.

It did not stay in the NY outcome range. It ended up puffing up a great deal on the counter rise and really took off in the oven.  No big bubbles underneath on the counter rise, but plenty of little ones. I'm not sure if and what all of that means.

Launch disaster! Very extensible and much more moisture than normal. Very active, perhaps? The top inside the container had no signs of over activeness I would normally get if letting too much yeast go too long. Still, it seemed to change form during topping. I was not rushing, but I certainly was not in any slow down mode. Bottom line is that I didn't use enough peel flour for the task at hand. I did a really nice recovery, though, and we ate well. The wrinkly bottom texture thing that happens with some bad launches was very evident. 

Given that it was so different between yesterday and today, I think I should post the formula, including changes from "normal" Here goes.

Flour (FS)
Water (61%) (up from normal 59% these days) (temp mid-80's F)
Starter (5%) (taken a few hours before it peaks after a feeding)
Salt (2%) (I'm discovering that this is my upper limit for taste.)
Olive Oil (2%) (Normally none or 1%)
Sugar (1.5%) (up from normal 1% these days.)
Diastatic Malt Powder (1%) (I normally do none or 2%. I think 1% will be new normal for me.)
TF = 0.08755
Single Ball 382g 14-inches

Mix according to the Tom Lehmann KISS video, except I put the starter in the water with the salt and sugar and swoosh it around a bit. I also put the LDM into the flour and stir it in thoroughly while staging ingredients. Mix for 1-2 minutes until shaggy mass, add olive oil, mix until a dough forms and then knead for 6-8 minutes, or until I hit that look and feeling I'm waiting for. A "big" 4-ball batch took 10 minutes, compared to 6-8 like the normal 2-ball batch. Bulk rise in high 70's for 2 hours and ball. 3 balls went into fridge, approximately 37F. They were 78F before hitting the fridge.

Yesterday's bake: (baked on BS @580)
Bulk rise 78F 2 hours  (then balled)
72F - 1 hour
60F - 2 hours
72F - 16 hours

Today's bake: (baked inside @550F-ish after bad launch)
Bulk rise 78F 2 hours  (then balled)
37F - 22 hours
72F - 21 hours

Like I said earlier in this reply, there was a difference, and it was evident from the moment I dropped the ball. Based on yesterday's being a little bit less mature than my bake last week, I increased the warm rise time an hour or two from the chart, which also included increasing a bit to make up for the time it took to go from 37F to 72F. 

The second shot is the container 1-1/2 hours before bake beside one I had just pulled from the fridge for a comparison shot. (The smaller one had expanded a bit from this time yesterday. Minimal. Maybe something like 3%.

Pic 1: Container 1-1/2hours before bake.
Pic 2: The comparison shot.
Pic 3: From the Bottom
Pic 4: Disaster Recovery
Pic 5: I almost forgot to take an upskirt of the wrinkled, folded over mis-launch.
pic 6: And then I almost forgot to take a shot of any of the outer ring texture.

Hopefully enough info. Probably too much. Time to figure out what I learned.

Thoughts, anyone?
Maybe they should just make white T-shirts with pizza juice stains already on them.

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 02:33:49 PM »
I baked my 3rd ball from this batch today. 5-days old. I missed-judged over-night temps where I fermented the ball, and was 6 degrees lower this morning than I thought I would be. Efforts to make up for it were not fast enough. I ran out of time and had to do the bake. A couple hours sooner than I wanted to. Glad I did, because I liked this better. Great oven spring, but not too much.

I should have taken some pictures, but was in a hurry. I'll take some shots on Wednesday or Thursday, whenever I do the last ball. 

I hope I can repeat all of this, because the flavor is right where I want it to be. I'm normally not this lucky.

I know it's not supposed to work, but it seems to be. Maybe taking the starter out a few hours before it peaked? Maybe the sugar in the formula? 
Maybe they should just make white T-shirts with pizza juice stains already on them.

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2015, 02:00:39 PM »
And the 7-day old dough-ball update. The 4th and final bake on this batch was today. Total fermentation times.

77F (bulk) - 2 hours
37F (Fridge) - 136 hours
53F (Garage) - 22 hours
94F (Oven) - 4 hours
77F (Stove) - 2 hours

Of the 4, today's was easily most identifiable as being SD. It was easily the farthest from NY style. The acidic flavor was up, but not nearly as much as a couple previous attempts where I took starter out right around peak time after feeding. I like the combinations of flavors on this, but not as much as I did the other 3. I know my family would not have scored this one nearly as well as the rest.

The browning and crunch layer was decent, but not quite as good as the other 2 that did not have launch issues. The taper section of all of them were nice. This one might have been the strongest in that regard.

The volume increase was pretty dormant during the 53F time. the bulk of the air bubbles on the bottom did not appear until  after several hours into the 77F and 94F stages. I'm thinking that next time I time things as best I can to get ready on the stove under a light at 77F. I was just curious to see what would happen with extended intermediate times.

So the outcome? Heck yes! This has got to be repeated. I still don't know how it worked. I have both the Pizza Bible and the Ed Wood book now, so will dig into those as well as this forum. One thing I am considering doing is eliminating the LDM portion just to see if the excessive tackiness goes away. The more curious aspect concerning SD is that I am wondering what affect the LDM had with the longevity of the dough. The first 3 were incredible and the 4th very good.

While I used KAAP for the starter, I wonder if the FS (bromated) for the rest of the dough had anything to do with any of the unexpected results?

Pics are all pretty obvious.
Maybe they should just make white T-shirts with pizza juice stains already on them.

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Re: Weak or Immature Starter?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2015, 03:51:02 PM »
I received my sourdo-dot-calm Italian pair last Week and activated them on the 21st. Reading the instructions and a section of his book lead me to a major clue about the home made starter I started last month. I gave it a washing at the same time as starting the other two. The home-made was active two days later.

The Ischia started off with quite a bang. Enough so that I was afraid it had gotten contaminated as well. It ended up OK, I think. Test batches on each one next week. I've read folks saying the Camaldoli was the sweeter of the two, so I might do that one first.

I gave the home-made starter a few days of deactivation in the fridge so that I could test my feeding and activation timing. It rose up enough to extract within 3 hours and got to double within 7-8 hours. I was into a bunch of things yesterday which sort of forced me to try a longer bulk ferment than I am used to doing. I think it ended up being 7 hours, and was such a breeze to ball smoothly. I've had some that looked a little like this after a few stretch and folds.

Same drill as last time after balling. 1st bake at lunch today. There was 6 hours of slow down time in the fridge due to a planning error. 2 more bakes coming the next few days of time in the fridge. Today's bake had none of the acidic flavor I had on the last bake of the last batch.

I did have stretching issues due to chronic lack of coordination and overly extensible dough. I may go up by .25% on the salt for the next batch. I kneaded it for 4 minutes longer than I ever have before. The outer ring was a bit tough as a result, I think. The ever elusive crunch showed up, though. The flavor was intensively good just like the flavor of the 1st three bakes from the last batch. Just incredible. I was nervous that doing wash might hurt it somehow.

Pics below. note the soggy middle. The side pic doesn't show it, but it had good oven spring everywhere but the center. Oh, and I was too jerky on the launch. In my defense, it was sticky....again.

Maybe they should just make white T-shirts with pizza juice stains already on them.