volunteer sourdough starter

volunteer starter 1 cup water + flour 26 hours after starting

volunteer starter 2 cup water + flour 26 hours after starting

At the second feeding made 8 hours after beginning, the jar of sponge contained 1 cup of water and 11 tablespoons of whole wheat flour and was removed from its position above the oven and the oven turned off. No more help using heat. Over a period of 7.5 hours, the sponge which was to the level of 1/3 the height of the jar, peaked to the very top of the jar and suddenly collapsed within the span of a few minutes. It's as if it simply could not hold up its own weight without being continuously hyperactive. That was my clue that feeding this culture is optimum at 7 hours, which is very fast for sourdough cultures, and that it can expand to three times it's starting volume. That's awesome. That is with whole wheat, and not any of that pansy-ass refined sissy white flour.

The culture has now been fed three times. The sponge presently contains two cups of water and and 2 cups + 14 heaping tablespoons of whole wheat flour, however much that turns out to be. It's been beaten using a powerful mixer's beaters rather than a dough hook and it's nice and stretchy like well-behaved glutenous sponge should be. It is 78℉ / 25℃, but that was after a thorough beating in the mixer which produces significant heat.

It is now just two hours past the 24 hour target intended for the first feeding that would have increased 1/4 cup water to 1/2 cup water, instead it's been fed three times already, has 2 full cups of water with as much flour as it took to create a wet sponge.

This creates something of a mathematic quandary which algebra should handle readily but for the life of me I cannot conceptualize a formula that provides the precise solution so I'm going to go by intuition here. This is the problem:

100% of 100% whole wheat loaves aren't all that great. I've yet to have one that didn't lack something in crumb, crust, manageability, taste, universality, say, they taste great and they're healthful but they do not make good sandwiches, canapes, breadcrumbs, or bread puddings, those sorts of things. They're usually too dense for children to enjoy, or heavy as bricks. Looking at how this culture lifted the sponge to the top of the jar, and seeing it's stretchy gluten quality I'm heartened but still it makes sense to include refined white flour as bakers do to lighten the loaves. But how much? I'm aiming for somewhere above the customary 25% whole wheat to refined white but under 50% whole wheat to refined white because the last time I did that the loaves had problems.

The next feeding will double the water again and double the amount of flour already used plus more because the last sponge to ferment and proof will have a higher percentage of flour to water than the wet sponges so far. Dough is more dense than sponge. Bakers use percentages but frankly I find their calculations bollox. One expert uses the weight of flour as a percentage of the weight of the water, another uses the percentages of flour and water to the total amount. See the difference? All I'm concerned about is the percentage of whole wheat flour to refined white flour. The amount of flour to water is never a problem for me. I want it to be like 35%ww to 65%rw or maybe even as high as 40%ww to 60%rw, where ww=whole wheat and rw=refined white.

Now. I have 2 cups water to 100 % whole wheat.

I will add 2 more cups water to Xww % + Yrw% .

I should probably premix the flours in a bowl and scoop it as I need it.

1/3ww + 2/3rw

or maybe 1/4ww + 3/4rw That's the normal amount for so-called whole wheat loaves and at 50% of it's total water's weight it's already 100% of whole wheat

Oh, it's so confusing! Ultimately I don't know how much flour I'll use, it all depends on how much it takes. Goddamnit. I think I'll go 1/3ww -- 2/3rw and risk running over 50% - 50% based on how I've seen this stuff act so far. This could be a disaster.

Speaking of disasters, wanna hear something stupid? Don't laugh because it's rude to laugh at stupid people. I was trying to decide how much grain to mill then thought, "screw it, just mill it all," and dumped all the grain into the hopper with its extension collar on then flicked on the machine. In my haste I forgot to insert the receiving bowl with its filters carefully designed to avoid making messes. My bad. Flour started shooting out of the machine and filling the air. In the confusion to shut it off and insert the bowl correctly I jerked the extension collar that allowed more grain to be milled which caused grain to spill all over the kitchen, and I mean ALL over the kitchen, into every single crack and behind every object and under every appliance. So then I had both flour dust AND wheat grains all over the place. I am such an idiot some times. So I spent an hour vacuuming up everything, or possibly 10 minutes, however long it took for all the grain to mill because we finished at the same time, the mill machine and the vacuum cleaner. Pissed myself off. The good thing is my kitchen got an unscheduled thorough cleaning.

previous post here.
volunteer starter 1 cup water + flour 26 hours after starting


Carl said...

Hi Chip Ahoy,

Throughout this whole process of creating your starter are you using whole wheat flour that you have freshly grinded with your coffee grinder? In another words you bought a sack of wheat kernels (or wheat grains) from a health food store, and you used your grinder to make fresh whole wheat flour?

Chip Ahoy said...

Carl, no, just the first two tablespoons were ground in the coffee grinder, the rest was milled in a proper mill pictured here in the Maui post.

But it could have been any flour. It all has yeast cells and bacteria on it. You don't even need to use heat either, I just did that for assurance. Apparently it'll start showing signs of activity within 24 hours at room temperature.

Carl said...

I guess what I was getting at was that you bought whole wheat kernel or grain, and you used a coffee grinder or mill to make whole wheat flour. You didn't use whole wheat flour that was already grounded (for example King Arthur or Gold Medal)?

Chip Ahoy said...

Carl, yes that is correct.

I got the grain from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

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