Why is my starter so sticky


I have switched to a 50% hydration starter . If I have 300 grams of starter I feed it 100 grams of water and 200 grams of flour. I t doubles in a few hours . Why is it so sticky? I thought 50% hydration should be pretty dry, after feeding and mixing I have to scrape it off the spoon or my fingers. I thought it should end up with a consistancy of a ball of fairly firm dough. Am I missing something.

142 users have voted.


panfresca 2011 October 8

I am assuming that you have a reason for wanting your starter to be 50% - if your measurements are accurate, then you are achieving what you wanted... so why does it matter if your starter is sticky?

The stickiness of the final dough is more of an issue. 

bobku 2011 October 9

Just experimenting, trying for a more sour flavor. I am alreading retarding dough in fridge overnight. Thought a 50% hydration should have been very dry, just want to make sure I'am feeding correctly.

Madame de Fleur 2011 October 10

You're quite right, bobku. A 50% hydration starter should be firm. It's basically a dough consistency at that hydration and should not be sticky. Reading your initial post, I wonder if this is the first build changing your starter to 50% hydration. If so, what was the hydration of your existing 300gm of starter? If it was 100%, for instance, adding 100g of water and 200 of flour will not instantly change it to 50% overall. You'll need more builds to do that.

Plus it's a good rule of thumb, although not stirctly necessary, to double your starter quantity every build. So, if you begin with 300gm of starter, your first build would add 2x300=600g total. If you're going for 50% hydration that would mean you'd add 400gm flour and 200 water. You can see that when beginning with 300gm starter you are lumped with a whacking great volume of starter by the time you add more builds at double the starter weight each time!

When changing the hydration of a starter, I start with a small quantity. Example, 30gm of starter. Then it only takes a couple of builds to attain the new hydration and you finish up with a workable quantity rather than an excessive amount. You can discard but I hate doing that and never do. Of course, you might be working with very larger dough quantities, and in this case starting the build with 300gm of starter is fine, but I'm assuming you're just baking one or two loaves at a time at home?

bobku 2011 October 12

I'm sure its 50 % hydration, 100 grams at 100% hydration is 50 flour 50 water to change it to 50% hydration I can add 100 grams flour and 25 grams of water giving me 150 grams flour and 75 grams water. Whatever the numbers are as long as my water is half the weight of my flour It should be 50% hydration.I made an all rye version of 50% hydration which comes out like a ball of dough. I'm using KA bread flour and its sticky when mixed. Everything works fine just wondering why its sticky. I have made Bagels before wjich is very dry that what I was expecting it to end up like. I guess the other ingredients effect in bagels ( salt malt)  effect the flour. which is why texture is different. 

Madame de Fleur 2011 October 12

Bobku, I way I read your first post, you had a starter of 300gms (150g flour and 150g water assuming it was 100% hydration) and added 100 grams of water and 200 grams of flour. That would have meant you'd have a total of 350g flour and 250g water (71% hydration). But from your current post, it seems I have misintepreted your original post.

Going by the figures you give in your post above, you actually have got a starter of 50% hydration. So, just to check, you're saying that when you had a 50% hydration all-rye starter, it wasn't sticky, but now you have a 50% hydration starter of KA bread flour that is sticky - correct?

True, that the combination of ingredients in bagel dough (especially sugar, malt extract and shortening) gives a different consistency from a 50% hydration white flour starter. Not sure why a 50% hydration white flour starter should be as sticky as yours apparently is, though. Can only say my experience of such starters is that they are firm and dough-like, but flours do vary enormously. Almost certainly, it's down to your flour. I'd just go ahead and use it and see how the bread turns out. My bet is it will be fine.

Panevino 2011 October 12


It could be that the flour you are using is either hyper diastatic or it has too much damaged starch.  If you're able, try a different brand and or lot number.  Doubling every couple of hours and becoming sticky at the same time seems too fast to be normal.


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