Sour Dough Starter - Who keeps one going?

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bmckee56

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SWMBO and I have a frozen starter we received recently and we want to re-activate it soon. I have ead up on the process and from what I understand, this stuff can double in size daily. So I am wondering what to do with that much sour dough starter and if it is possible to freeze some in case the original should be lost.

Any basic sour dough bread recipes would be greatly appreciated too.

Salute!
 

android

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arg! i just spend like 10 minutes writing a response and deleted it!

here's the condensed version:

i have a sourdough that is about 4 yrs old. i just keep it in the fridge and feed it periodically (moreso when i use it). it can keep in there 1-2 months without being fed, no problem. but you do need to get it up and active again before you add it to a recipe (takes 1-2 days). i keep my starter fairly runny like pancake batter.

here is a good basic sourdough recipe (i'll assume you know about stepping up the dough with a firm starter and all about kneading and such and omit all that from the recipe, let me know if you need more info on that).

firm starter (should resemble a normal dough ball after mixing, don't need to knead this, just form a ball and let it sit):
2/3 c (4 oz) runny sourdough (barm)
1 c. (4.5 oz) bread flour
1/8 - 1/4 c. water

let this sit out overnight to ferment (16 hrs seems to be a good target, i like to do it fairly late 8-9pm and let it go overnight and when i get up, mix it in with the rest of the ingredients)

final dough:
firm starter
4.5 c (20.25 oz) bread flour
2 tsp (.5 oz) salt
1.5-1.75 c. water (90-100 deg)

mix it all up, knead it (i like to use my kitchenaid to knead dough with 6-8 minutes on low).

let ferment at room temp for 3-4 hrs until doubled in size (this can take FOREVER sometimes depending on the health of your sourdough and the ambient temp, winter time is not the best time for making sourdough, under 70 deg and mine struggles to rise properly).

divide into 2 pieces and shape into whatever form you like.

proof the dough for 2-3 hours (or retard in the fridge overnight for best flavor development -- must remove 4 hrs before baking if doing this).

i don't know if you've read up on steaming your oven, i normally use a spray bottle to steam during the first 30 sec - 1 min of the bake. preheat oven to 500 deg.

put bread in oven, spray walls with water once, wait 30 sec, do it again, wait 30 sec, do it one more time and lower oven temp to 450. bake for 10 minutes, rotate bread 180 deg, bake for 10-20 minutes more until center of loaf reads 205 deg (or until they look like you want em to). should sound hollow when thumped on bottom.

the cool thing about sourdough is even if you don't get a good rise, once it goes into the oven, the thing explodes with oven spring... fun to watch. any questions, shoot and good luck, sourdough is super addictive, i bet your loaves won't last 2 days.
 

maddprofessor

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I made one once starting with flour, water, and bread yeast and left it covered with a cheesecloth for a week. Some sources say never start with commercial yeast. Some say never rely on wild yeast. I think eventually the wild yeast will populate the starter anyway. Mine took on an unpleasant funk once I moved and when I tried to make a new one it still had that unpleasant taste so I assume the microbes in the air here don't taste good. I gave up on it. When I did have it going I kept it in the fridge and could leave it a little over a month before it was all but dead. If it had been a while I took a few days refreshing it to get a decent sized healthy starter. I had trouble getting my bread to hold it's shape. It often flattened out to make for a very short loaf. (I was not using a bread pan) I mostly used mine for pizza.
 

android

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i made mine with coarse grind rye flour, bread flour, and water until it puffed up then you spend the better part of 7-10 days gradually "diluting" it with bread flour until almost all the rye meal is gone and you have a healthy population. each time you feed it, discard about 1/2-3/4 of it and replace with equal amount of bread flour and water. you'll know once it starts. once you get it 1.5-2 weeks old, it's ready to use and just continues to develop its own character over the years.
 

android

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oh yeah, i don't know that i would freeze a starter either, i forgot to mention that in the first reply. maybe it's possible, but it just seems like a bad idea to me.
 

android

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another thing, this bread doesn't keep particularly well, so if there is any leftover, i let it dry out and make the best breadcrumbs in the world out of it.
 

Freezeblade

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I have completely stopped using commerical yeast for any of my breads. I bake about 8 loafs a week, about, so that's alot of starter.

I keep two sourdough starters, both at 100% hydration. One of them is a whole-grain starter which is fed with a mixture of rye, spelt, and whole wheat flours, I raised this one from scratch using this flour mixture. The other is my "kind of white" starter, called so because I only feed it durum wheat flour (fine grain semolina). The latter was adapted from a family starter that was gotten from a one-legged old scottish brewer friend of the family, it's unknown how old it is and acts just like a white starter, but I keep it fed with durum for doing some 100% durum wheat breads such as those that are in Daniel Leader's "Local Breads" book.

A good recipe from that very same book: Quintessential French Country Sourdough

120g ripe stiff starter (50% hydration, I use the white starter for this, feeding it a few times and getting it to 50% hydration from 100%)
350g water
350g White Flour (preferably unbleached)
120g Whole Wheat Flour
30g Rye Flour
10g salt

Mix ingredients together until a shaggy dough is formed, let rest for 20-30 mins for an autolysis. Come back and kneed dough, attempt to resist the urge to add flour, it will be fairly wet (nothing like a ciabatta dough though, I use a french fold technique). Kneed until smooth, set aside (in a bowl, on counter, whatever). Letter-fold dough twice, at 30 mins and again at one hour. Let sit until doubles in size, pre-shape, shape (makes two medium loafs or one big loaf), then score. Bake at 450F in a pre-heated oven (hopfully on a baking stone) with steam for the first 10 mins of baking. Total baking time is around 25-30 mins, bake until a deep chestnut color is achieved.

Here's an example of one of the breads I did using this recipe awhile back, but I added some sesame seeds.

 

android

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freeze, those are some nice looking loaves! thanks for sharing that recipe. what exactly do you mean by 100% hydration, does that just mean batter-like? and lastly, how do you get that blossom on top of that loaf? is it just one slash?
 

Blackgaurd_Brewing

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I made a pretty good starter from flour, sugar and a beer that had an infection (Never throw a batch away!) Its gotten a bit better with time, but it was a quick start in a pinch.
My loaves never look as good as Freeze's though.
 

Freezeblade

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freeze, those are some nice looking loaves! thanks for sharing that recipe. what exactly do you mean by 100% hydration, does that just mean batter-like? and lastly, how do you get that blossom on top of that loaf? is it just one slash?
100% hydration would be referring to the ratio of water:flour in percentage, by weight. 100% hydration is 1:1 flour:water, where as 50% (what most old-school french sourdough recipes call for) is 2:1 flour:water

The blossom and oven spring I get is indeed one slash, but it's far more than that, and really the biggest challenge for a home-baker. A few things can help that.

1. Hot hot oven, think 500-475F
2. Preheated Oven Stone, a pizza stone works, but a heavy duty unglazed quarry tile from Home Depot does just as well, and is much cheaper. Preheat the oven at least 45 mins. Bake the bread on the stone, transferring the dough to the stone via a peel, thin cutting board, or the back of a cookie sheet.
3. Steam in the oven. This can be done via many methods, I have a cast-iron casarole pan that is in the bottom of my oven that I toss a cup of water into when I put the bread on the stone, causing the water to evaporate.
4. don't over-proof your bread. overproofing will cause flatter breads with less oven spring and almost no bloom.

Other important things of course are how you develop your gluten via kneeding, how you score your dough (sharp sharp blade 45 degree angle to the bread surface, one quick movement). How taught the surface is when you shape your bread, etc. Bread is far beyond just a recipe, kinda like beer, it's technique.

For your pleasure, more bread porn. 100% semolina sourdough recipe from "Local Breads."

 

android

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here's my stab at that formula you posted, thanks a bunch, it is a delicious bread.



 
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bmckee56

bmckee56

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Again, much thanks for the information. I have been making pizza dough and Italian bread just about every Tuesday and I am developing better habits and much better dough each time. I try to vary the ingredients and methods occasionally to see if I can improve.

The information provided above is great stuff to use. I use the squirt bottle method for crusty bread, but I can see the advantage of the steaming method in that you are not opening and closing the door to the oven and losing heat everytime. Might have to work on a way to add water to the pot with out opening the door during the baking of the bread.

Thanks again!

Salute! :mug:
 

android

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i wouldn't worry too much about heat loss. in the breads above, i had to open the door like 3-4 times during the first few minutes of the bake to toss water in. my spray bottle wasn't working and i hadn't heated up a pan in the oven, so i was just tossing in handfuls of water, probably not the best method, but it worked fine.
 

Freezeblade

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I read somewhere that an oven drops about 50 degrees directly when you open it, then much more if it's kept open. All the bread books I've read harp the importance of keeping the oven at high temps, so I've always tried my best to keep the oven openings at a minimum, and I never open within the first 15 mins.

That being said, The stones should even that out a bit, and not everything written about bread baking is to be believed. Even with opening, you sure got some lovely crust on that bread android, looking good.
 

Mermaid

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Just wanted to toss in that the best sourdough starters I've kept have been the consistancy of a thick cultured milk, with a slightly sour/fruity smell and noticable bubbles present. One of the more unusual starters I've made were from a bottle of some Belgian ale, I seem to recall it was a dubbel but I can't remember what brewery.

The bread had an interesting funk about it - you might want to experiment capturing some Belgian or German ale yeast and let it dance with some wild yeast. Part of the fun of sourdough baking is experimentation. :)
 

Evets

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I recently made a starter out of King Arthor white whole wheat flour. I used it in Androids recipe and baked it in my new oven. It baked well but was a bit bland IMO. I'm going to try Freezeblades recipe next. I also have some Italian starters to try, Ischia and Camoldi.
This is the first bread I've ever made and also the first thing I've cooked in the new oven.


 
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bmckee56

bmckee56

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Will be getting a few of these recipes going on Tuesday next week. I plan to bake several loaves during my 2 days off.

Thanks to all for the recipes and advice.

Salute! :mug:
 

samc

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I keep my starter in the fridge and use it two times a week. I feed it 1/3 cup of flour and some water, put it in a controlled temp of 80F for 4 hours and then use it in my bread or pizza dough room temp rise recipes. The starter goes right back into the fridge.

This is not the way everyone tells you to treat your starter, but mine has been living like this for 2+ years with no complaints. Very simple to maintain.

The breads above out of the wood oven look great, would love to have a wood burning oven.
 
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