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Author Topic: How to increase starter's strength/activity?  (Read 3120 times)

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Offline Brent-r

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2018, 10:10:35 PM »
I also don't measure for feedings but I do simply watch the overall texture.  Having found a few years back that if the brew is to wet the bubbles will all come to the surface and pop and you won't be able to get a visual on the rise and fall.  Porridge is a good model to start from.
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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2018, 10:21:44 PM »
Craig: Heikjo above suggested using a pluviometer for observing doubling of dough.  I don't have one, so I made two. :D  The poppy seed idea was also suggested, however,

VSteve:  okay I'll drop the flour variable and try the KA for this next week for it all.  The dough in the last picture is not wet on top, it's just the glare.  I let it go this long because I've been waiting for it to double.  Which it's not.  I have tried baking doughs with similar "no rise but lots of bubbles" in the past at shorter timelines, from 4-8 hours, always flat/dense.  EDIT: these former sourdough tests were generally done in cooler temps, 65-70F.  We're having a warm summer here in so cal.

Here's a picture of the bread dough in pre-shape.  It was slightly tacky to work with, but I did not need flour and it is holding shape (which is unusual, in past it usually just goes slack and plllppptttt).  I'm waiting for the oven to heat up and going to bake just for laughs, see what happens.  Excuse the strange stain in wood.

Oh, and I'm looking forward to the envelope thank you :)
« Last Edit: August 25, 2018, 10:32:38 PM by ButteredPizza »

Offline Heikjo

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2018, 05:20:38 AM »
Is there a particular reason you changed the starter to 60%?
-Heine. Mostly Neapolitan sourdough pizzas in an electric Effeuno P134H.

Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2018, 08:04:42 AM »
Since we can't sequence your culture... try this: the ambient temp is a little high for 2x feedings at 100%, in my experience. If you don't mind another experiment, try splitting the starter and feeding one half 3x/day at 100%, and the other 2x/day at 60%. A couple days of this should suffice. Whichever one seems to be doing better after a few days, switch the feeding schedules and see what happens.

Even though you're using "filtered" water, have you tried it with bottled for a few days?

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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2018, 10:40:42 AM »
Yeah, blame vsteve :p

Summary for Heikjo: I began with 100% starter, but it was very sluggish - took a long time double even with smaller feedings (1:2:2).  Steve suggested I break it into two starters, and feed the 100% one 3x a day and the 60% one 2x a day.  I began with the 100% one but it would be challenging to maintain the consistent temps between work/home so I changed it over to the 60% starter.  It now rises consistently.  I could go back to 100%, and take it with me to work *shrug* but for obvious reasons this isn't something I want to do long term  :P

BTW, bread turned out just like all past breads so far.. it looks nice from the outside, but inside is dense. This time, it doesn't taste good, either (which is weird).  Bread feels very heavy.  It was difficult to cut.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 11:24:32 AM by ButteredPizza »

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Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2018, 10:42:23 AM »
Can you post a crumb shot for diagnostic purposes?
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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2018, 11:30:12 AM »
The photo makes it look like a decent crumb structure.. but in person it's just dense, very "tough".  When I scored prior to baking, the gluten-breakdown was evident.

Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2018, 01:26:09 PM »
Yeah, it looks pretty leaden at the bottom, and you've got the start of a flying crust on the top. Did you do the "poke test" as it was final proofing? It combines internal pressure and dough strength/elasticity into one metric (how fast a fingertip dimple in the dough springs back [or fails to]), and is pretty reliable.

How hot was your bake, stone/steel, steam, etc.?
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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2018, 01:52:49 PM »
Oven started at 500F, stone about 500F as well, stainless bowl on top for 15 minutes (gas oven so other steaming methods don't work).  I dropped the temp to 425 after loading the dough.  I'm doing same thing I did yesterday, only this time cutting total ferment time in half to 6-7 hours since I have just a little of this WF flour left.  Or maybe just save sanity and wait a week feeding starter on KAF then try again next weekend to minimize variables.

Offline Heikjo

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2018, 03:46:51 PM »
You can choose when a starter peaks by changing how much you feed it. I typically feed mine 2.5:25:25 or 5:25:25 when I feed it around 10 in the evening for use around 8-10AM next morning. If I want to use it after 6 hours I feed it with more of the original starter. As you use the starter you will learn how it works, how to use it and how to feed it according your schedule and work.
-Heine. Mostly Neapolitan sourdough pizzas in an electric Effeuno P134H.

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Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2018, 04:27:05 PM »
Did you do the "poke test" as it was final proofing? It combines internal pressure and dough strength/elasticity into one metric (how fast a fingertip dimple in the dough springs back [or fails to]), and is pretty reliable.

So, did you poke test the shaped loaf, or did you just go for the 12 hour proof the last time?

You shouldn't notice the smell/flavor changing at this point (mature starter, we hope)--we're trying to establish an equilibrium. If it's getting smellier or breaking down more at each feeding, then you need to feed more aggressively, shorter intervals or a lower proportion of seed (or jack up the water/flour, but it's nice to keep it small while sorting this stuff out).
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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2018, 07:14:14 PM »
Didn't do the poke test, but based on how it handled when transferred to the oven, I'm certain the dimple would have remained and not come back - when there was no visible rise at the 8 hour mark in the spy glass, I gave up knowing this dough would not rise in the oven, and didn't take the last few hours seriously.  I will take this week with multiple daily feedings at 100% hydration and bake next weekend.

Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2018, 09:27:50 PM »
It's dead.  Changed flour to the red KAF bag on Sunday, gave it one 12h feeding overnight at 100% hydration (5g starter, 20g each water and KAF).  Monday morning bubbles, but no rise.  Repeated, took with me to work, left in my car (shaded parking).  Checked on it at 3pm.  No rise, few bubbles, so postponed feeding to 12h instead of 8h increment.  No rise, minimal bubbles.  Fed anyway.  Same thing Tuesday morning and evening.  I let it go 24 hours this time, and tonight, not even a bubble.   It doesn't taste sour, just tastes like flour and water mixed :(

It's got to be something in my environment.  I have a starter from the east coast I will try, will use bottled water to officially rule out water as the problem, and hopefully I won't kill this one, too.  wtf. it's just water and flour  :(

Time for n + 1 + 1 try ::)

Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #33 on: September 03, 2018, 10:08:44 PM »
So far the results are promising?  Last wednesday night: I cut off a 2x3" piece of the paper towel dried starter, soaked in a little water (~20-25g?) for 15 minutes, swishing it about every few minutes, fished out the towel, added some flour to get pancake batter consistency.  Left it overnight.  Next morning, I added a little more water and flour.  Thursday evening, it had a few bubbles, added a little more water and flour.  All bottled water and KAF AP.

Friday morning, it had bubbles, so I used 50g starter, and mixed with 50g water and flour.  Came home from work early (about 3pm), it had risen a bit, had bubbles on top, so repeated the morning discard, and stuck with 3x day through sunday evening.  During this time, it reeked of a mix of parmesan and a hint of savory vomit.  Based on my past experiences and research, this is "normal" while bacteria gets evicted as acidity increases.  I was just surprised that it happened with a dried starter.  Maybe I didn't use enough.  With each change, I noticed the starter had a "fluffy" consistency, and floated in the water before I mixed it in.

Sunday night it began to smell better, so I took the opportunity to try for a 12-hour feeding schedule, and arbitrarily changed the feeding to 10g starter, 50g flour and water.  It rose about 30%.  Since it had bubbles on top, I repeated in the morning and again this evening.  I looks to be working.  The rise in the jar is only about 30%, but the starter is full of tiny bubbles, has a few bubbles at top, is becoming more pleasantly aromatic, and was floating in the feeding water.  It also tastes quite tart now.

Ambient temps have dropped a bit, ranging 72-80F.

Hopefully, I can try a bake this next weekend.

If I ever make another starter, I'm going try the pineapple juice approach.

Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #34 on: September 04, 2018, 11:41:53 AM »
If I ever make another starter, I'm going try the pineapple juice approach.

And miss out on the savory vomit smell?   :-D

Sounds good so far. I'm not surprised that there was more initial funk than a dried-flake restart, but it was easy to mail. :)
I might dry a sample on a sterile gauze bandage to see if it recovers faster/more cleanly...


If you try reviving another piece, only feed once a day (no discard) for the first three days, or until you get a rise -- it'll recover more quickly if it's not being diluted too much while the population is trying to rebuild, and may avoid the stinky stretch. Soak in pineapple, and do the initial feeds with pineapple?

Also, Debra Wink on starter maintenance feeding:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2#comment-140505
« Last Edit: September 04, 2018, 11:52:55 AM by vtsteve »
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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #35 on: September 04, 2018, 12:46:22 PM »
Also, Debra Wink on starter maintenance feeding:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10901/pineapple-juice-solution-part-2#comment-140505

I hadn't seen that before!  Very helpful, thank you!!   There's a tid-bit in there that *might* explain what's been going on:  "Smaller feeds more frequently will produce a milder starter..." and  "Larger feeds less frequently help build more potential for sour".  The interwebs has left me with the impression my starter was slow, so I always concentrated on building it at 1:5:5.. perhaps it built too much acidity, which then breaks down the actual doughs.  HMMMM.  I will try scaling back to larger starter ratio since whether is cooling down a bit.  I'm also encouraged by the 2:1:1 as a means to "wash" - I hadn't heard of that before, but lately have seen a few references to it.

Should the current feeding schedule continue to work, then I will try to make my first loaf.  Would you suggest 20% starter, 65% hydration, 2% salt?

Offline Heikjo

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #36 on: September 04, 2018, 12:54:23 PM »
Should the current feeding schedule continue to work, then I will try to make my first loaf.  Would you suggest 20% starter, 65% hydration, 2% salt?
Depends on what pizza you plan to make and how you want to make it. 20% starter is quite a lot, so it will ferment fast. This means either a short RT fermentation or CF (fridge).

I prefer longer fermentations with 2-3% starter, but you can test it with 20%. Here's a chart that makes it easier to gauge how much starter you need depending on how long you want to ferment and at what temperature: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=22649.0 It's a very good guideline, but as you experiment you may find that the chart predicts too much or too little starter.
-Heine. Mostly Neapolitan sourdough pizzas in an electric Effeuno P134H.

Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #37 on: September 04, 2018, 01:00:21 PM »
He's going to bake a loaf of bread as a test of the starter (spring, dough degradation etc.), and that sounds good to me.

At that % I usually give it a 2.5 hour bulk, fold at 50 and 100 minutes, then shape and final proof for a couple of hours -- use the poke test, and bake while it still springs back slowly.

Please don't try to extend the fermentation right off the bat! Good luck!   :)
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Offline ButteredPizza

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #38 on: September 04, 2018, 02:40:48 PM »
Perfect, thanks to you both :)  Don't worry: no extended fermentations, I need a successful loaf of bread first!  Then, a couple more to confirm consistency, and finally, experimentation and pizza!

Offline Brent-r

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Re: How to increase starter's strength/activity?
« Reply #39 on: September 04, 2018, 05:49:54 PM »
There's lots of stuff out there on the internet.   I have found this site interesting and
bought / downloaded each of his booklets and learned something from each of them

https://www.sourdoughhome.com/

on this page he has some calculators and there's a lot of other goodies
https://www.sourdoughhome.com/index.php?content=downloads

if we were not so far away I'd love to go to his classes
Brent

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