Rye versus wheat starter...


So I made a rye starter and got an OK loaf of pumpernickel at about the 6th day - it wasn't perfect but that's the subject for another post.  I wanted to also do a wheat starter and began a second jar, using the rye as a base, and then adding just white wheat flour.  It's been about 5 days but my wheat starter remains very liquidy and doesn't rise that much.  I have been using 100% hydration for both.  My rye starter is ice and moussy, rises 100%, and has a nice fruity smell.  What's up with the wheat?

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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 February 18

Hello DVTO2,

I could be that it is just taking a while to adjust to the new food source.  You say that it doesn't rise much and that it is fairly liquidy.  Depending on your definition of fairly liquidy, it is possible that the gas generated is able to escape almost as fast as it is generated.  The amount of rise in not that important provided that there is plenty of activity and the batter is shot through with gas bubbles.

My first move would be to increase the hydration slightly to get the starter to something like a thick batter that will run off a spoon but will leave a nice thick layer behind (maybe 6-10mm).

The other option would be to reintroduce a proportion of rye flour.  My regular feed is 20% rye and 80% bread flour.

I assume you are using scales to measure your ingredients.  If you are not, then I would highly recommend that you do acquire a set.  Digital kitchen scales are not that expensive these days.

Good luck with your projects.


DVTO2 2012 February 23

My rye sourdough is doing well but I still can't get the wheat going after almost 10 days.  I decided to start again with fresh rye starter.  I also changed from bread flour to all purpose, as suggested by thw woods.    

DVTO2 2012 February 26

So, I started over with my rye starter and my initial proofing did look like it was working somewhat - I got a mousy rise.  However, the second and te third proofings did very little.  I am wondering if the off the shelf, Pillsbury All Purpose flour just isn't good enough or fresh enough, or something, to do a sourdough - or if I need to get a different starter.

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 February 26

Hello DVTO2,

Could you give a bit more detail?

I don't quite know what you mean by second and third proving and an idea of your recipe and timings would help a great deal.

Just about any flour should be OK except that it is prefereble for it to have a reasonably high protein (gluten) content.  It should be at least 11.5%.  The fresher the better but I have used some fairly old flour to make reasonable bread.

A starter is a starter, by and large as long as it has the makings in the form of the necessary yeasts and bacteria.  I have one that is fed 20% rye/80% bread flour and I use that as a basis to make all sorts of breads both plain and rich.

Hope to be able to help some more.


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