Experience with a Stiff Starter

I'm making bread for the first time with a firm starter, i.e. 1T batter starter (which is in active mode), 1T water plus 1/2 C flour. This is kneaded to make a very firm ball; it's supposed to quadruple in 8 plus hours. Well...it's way past 8 hours now, and it hasn't risen significantly. Apparently, this may mean the starter is not active enough. I've just dissolved a pinch of that dough and mixed in flour to make a not-as-stiff dough. We'll see how it goes.

Would like to hear from those of you who has made bread from a stiff starter. Ta!


8 comments

Hey Teck!

The recipe you used (1 T (tblsp?) of water and 1/2cup of flour) seems overly dry to me!

I normally recommend 50% hydration for a stiff starter. (ie 50g water/100g flour)

Using (and keeping) a starter as a stiff starter can enhance its flavour (and the bread you'll produce from it) , and also tends to keep better, when stored in your fridge over time.

I personally would use a little more (fully activated) starter initially to get the stiff dough kick-started.

Enjoy your sourdough experimentations!

Once your stiff starter dough becomes nice and active, make sure to adjust your recipes for your final dough, since the starter will be quite a bit drier compared to a "wet" starter (100% hydration)


Happy baking

Roland




Will do.


Yes yes, I've had the same issue. Most of my concern is with the lack of volume in either the barm or the firm starter. I have been following recipes Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I NEVER get the rise times he suggests despite target parameters. I have a somewhat bubbly barm started 4 generations (feedings) ago with rye flour. It is not as bubbly as some pictures I've seen but it goes.... 5 bubbles on the surface at any time.  I pitched that into a firm starter of bread flour so as to make a ball...firmness of about the tenderness of flesh at base of thumb when pinching. I got about a 25% rise in twice the time cited (24 hours).  Dough temp was 26 degrees C. After I got tired of waiting, and satisfied that there WAS some microbial activity, i made a full dough 40% whole wheat and rye, 60 % all purpose. 2% salt and 70% hydration.  I fermented at room temp for 24 hours, again with only 25% rise. Got tired again of waiting for the volume.

There was evidence of gas development- I could see gas in the dough through the proofing container.  I shaped the dough and proofed for another hour, giving up on the volume issue. I put it in the oven. Flavor is good, texture has irregular holes (desirable given the hydration) but the crust is like a pock-marked teen. UGLY.  This was apparent when shaping. There was no surface tension... a lack of gluten development I guess? My next dough, again, in pursuit of the rise, is to go with all purpose flour. Maybe that will help.
I've also recently read that the firm start is not intended to build gas and volume but to propagate the bugs... but I guess gas and volume is one indication of the presence of the bugs.  Any other clues?
I've only got rather liquid starters, though I've read about the stiff ones.  Is there any great advantage of one over the other?  Could I just take a bit of one of my liquidy starters to make a stiff one if there is some advantage, or for a specific recipe?

PaddyL

Hey Paddy!

I find, for home bakers, a more liquid (wet) starter is more practical and easier you use.

In my home kitchen I usually use a liquid starter (100% hydration), so when I pour say 100g of starter out of the fridge to start a new batch, I KNOW I’ve got 50g of flour and 50g of water (makes the math a little easier)

If your culture lacks a little Zingg, you may want to develop it a little as a stiff starter (say 50% hydration) as this can develop the acidic qualities of your starter, particularly if proofed at lower temps <20C

Higher temperatures and hydration tends to favour the yeast and lactic acid development.

 

Have a try!, take a little from your fully activated (wet) starter, make it into a stiff starter and see how you go

[write down everything you do!]

 

Happy baking

 

Roland

And it trebled this afternoon so I put it into the fridge.  My question:  can I use some stiff starter in place of, say, a lump of pre-fermented dough in recipes that call for same?  They usually call it a piece, so many oz., of your previous day's baking.

PaddyL

[color=blue]Hi TP --- how's your stiff starter doin'?

You inspired me to try my own experiment... I used Reinhart's BBA recipe for Pate Fermentee (excuse the lack of accents in the right places --- I don't have a French keyboard) - minus the yeast i.e.

1 1/8 cup AP unbleached flour (6.7oz)
1 1/8 cup unbleached flour (6.7oz)
3/4 tsp salt
approx 2 tbsp of my 100% hydration white starter
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (6.7oz) water
Knead 6 mins, roll in EVOO, leave til 1.5X size, knead gently, place in zip lock bag in fridge.  (67.5% Hydration???)  The 'pate' was silky smooth and looked lovely as I cut it into pieces with the scissors.

I then used the 'pate' to make the BBA French bread & Pain de Campagne (neither with the additional yeast that the recipe calls for) - with MARVELLOUS results.  Both recipes call for 16oz of Pate Fermentee - I had approx 6oz of stiff starter left over each time, which I refreshed using the technique above (minus the EVOO and waiting for the 1.5x increase)

So... I suppose I now have a stiff starter as well! (does it count?)

My next experiment is making a 100% hydration 'poolish' with my starter...

I have an observation tho' that I'd like to thrown out there...
I have noted that without the addition of yeast my doughs take about double the time to ferment or prove (e.g. the yeasted recipe says 2 hours and mine takes 4 hours) --- is this everyone else’s experience when converting their yeasted recipes to sourdough?  Does anyone have any fabby recipes for using this marvelous silky stiff stuff?

Cheers,
C
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