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Jul 6, 2014 11:11 AM

Questions about sourdough starter and bread

Hi all,
I have a few favorite bread recipes I make all the time. I would like to add sourdough to a couple of them.
I'd also like to add sourdough to my waffle and pancake recipes as well.
Questions I have are, how much sourdough starter do I add to an already proven recipe without any in it???
Do I remove the same amount of flour and liquid as I do add the starter?

Thank you,

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  1. Since you are starting with recipes that you do not list here there is no way for anyone to suggest how to alter them.
    There are many great references on line to help you with all your questions.
    Here are a few to get you started
    And threads here on Chowhound

    1. I don t know if you can call it proven if you make a major change like adding sourdough. There are plenty of sourdough recipes out there.
      A key seems to be to use your sourdough every week or two.
      Pancakes are very easy though like all sourdough you start the nite before.

      1. Not what I was looking for but thanks anyway. I'll ask elsewhere on a bread forum.


        1. "Do I remove the same amount of flour and liquid as I do add the starter?"

          Yep, pretty much.

          As an example, if you have a recipe like this:

          200 grams flour
          300 grams water

          and you want to sub in 100 grams of 100% hydration (ie, 50 grams flour, 50 grams water) sourdough starter, it would look like this:

          100 grams sourdough starter, 100% hydration
          150 grams flour
          250 grams water

          4 Replies
          1. re: LMAshton

            Bingo! I was guessing that to be about right. I understand. Thanks, LM.

            Next question is, how much sourdough should I add to a none sourdough recipe?
            I'm experimenting here. Gimmee a ballpark figure.
            10%, 25%, 50%? What would be logical in trying to create a bit of a sourdough taste for a none sourdough recipe?
            Hope this makes sense.


            1. re: thegrindre

              Hi DG -

              That is up to you.

              The longer sourdough sits fermenting, the more complex the taste it adds. And adding different flours to the ferment like whole wheat, etc. will further intensify the complexity.

              Thus a 7 hour ferment (or Biga as it is sometimes called ) would be quite different from an 18 hour ferment, as used in Ciabatta bread. In that later example it is 50 - 50 %, but with no salt added until the two are mixed together.

              Again, up to you, but I would hazard a guess of at least 25 %.

              Also, it would be helpful to keep back 25 % of your ferment to freeze and use later for your next baking project. They have been doing that for the sourdough starter for San Francisco (USA) Sourdough bread for 100-150 years now.

              1. re: thegrindre

                When I convert bread recipes from commercial yeast recipes to sourdough, I use no more than 20%. Any more than that and the gluten doesn't develop properly - I think it's because the sourdough starter has basically overdeveloped the gluten in there. My breads end up lumpy and malformed. They still taste great, mind you, but just don't look very good.

                I haven't done much with other things other than pancakes and waffle batter. With that, I've substituted pretty much as much as I could - gluten development doesn't matter so much there.

                I'd suggest experimenting and let us know the results. :)

                1. re: LMAshton

                  Many thanks! :-)
                  I am experimenting and will experiment on this recipe of mine.
                  Be glad to let you all know how it comes out.
                  I'm in the process of growing a new sourdough culture. Into day 4 but nothing is happening as of yet.


            2. Would like to let you all know that I now have a very very happy starter. :-)
              It's now been doubling itself in size within a couple hours of feeding for the past couple days.
              Although, it doesn't smell sour, it smells sweet and a little bready.
              I'm only feeding it once a day but I think I need to start feeding it about every 12 hours, I think. (Twice a day)
              I need to keep it strong while it's young.
              Waddaya think?


              11 Replies
              1. re: thegrindre

                Not all sourdough starters are sour - mine isn't at all. That yours smells sweet and a little bready is fine. Sounds like it's progressing well.

                How long ago did you start your starter?

                I think about a week after I started mine, I started using it for making flatbreads and such, so only fed it when I wanted to use it rather than every day. I used it for making regular bread about two weeks after I started it, but didn't have as much rising action as I would have liked until a couple of weeks later. Also, when not feeding it, it lives in the fridge.

                1. re: LMAshton

                  Oh, forgot to say that it's only about 8 days old, now

                  1. re: LMAshton

                    Got another question;
                    Watched many YouTube vids but never understood when to use it.
                    After feeding and on it's rise upward or when it's flat and needs feeding???

                    Thank you,

                    1. re: thegrindre

                      Usually you want to use it just after it has peaked, about 6-12 hours after feeding depending on your feeding schedule. However, if you're adding it to a recipe that already contains yeast and therefore not depending on it for leavening, you can really add it at any point in its cycle.

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        My culture is peaking within 2 hours after feeding. More like an hour and a half.
                        I got some really happy guys, here. :-)
                        OK, I think I understand.

                        1. re: thegrindre

                          Yep, my starter is that active as well. I feed my starter, and when it's all bubbly and happy, that's when I use it.

                      2. re: thegrindre

                        Ya know, I really don't understand.
                        Please listen to my logic.
                        To my understanding, it would seem more logical to use the starter while it's flat and not at its peak.
                        Reason being, you'd want it to come alive after a good feeding and that's what you'd be doing when incorporating into your recipe. Feeding it with all your recipe ingredients.
                        With my thinking, I really don't understand when and why you do it 'your' way... Well, I guess it's the 'right way'.

                        A bit puzzled,

                          1. re: thegrindre

                            You feed the starter with water and flour so it's nice and alive and has lots of active yeasts. You then add that active starter to the rest of your ingredients, ie flour, water or some other liquid, salt, and possibly some other ingredients like oil, eggs, whatever. The flour and water in the recipe ingredients provides further food for the yeasts to feed on, and it's during that feeding process that the yeasts give off gas that causes the dough to rise.

                            If you didn't feed the starter and allow it to at least double in size before adding it to the bread ingredients, then the bread dough would take much, much longer to rise since there would be far fewer active yeasts in the starter.

                            If you want to go that route, by all means, do. You'll likely end up with something that resembles a hockey puck.

                      3. re: thegrindre

                        Hi Rick-

                        This is good and it sounds normal.
                        Keep it covered and warm for the best results.

                        Remember to take a small sample of your ferment and keep it in a covered bowl or better yet a lidded jar in your refrigerator. That will be your starter for your next batch of bread.

                        You may have heard of Boudin bakery, originally located in San Francisco, USA. They make an excellent french Sourdough product using a ferment starter as the basis of the bread-making, just like yours. They keep it fed daily, and have done so for over 150 years. You can too.

                        Again, congratulations !