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Don's Starter Part 2. | Sourdough Companion

Don's Starter Part 2.

I stated in a previous post that I would be doing further experiments with Don's starter in an endeavour to find out more about it. The following is what I have done.

NOTES> At all times during the following, I have done all possible to ensure no cross-contamination of starters or doughs. To minimise as much as possible any time differences, all ingredients were pre-weighed. The water component was taken from a common large container to ensure equal temperature. When mixing time was required it was done so as to minimise any bias, that is, when mixing for the starter test the expected slowest starter was mixed first so as not to artificially accentuate the speed of the faster starters. When mixing for the baking test Don's starter was mixed first, time difference no more than 3 minutes.
For the starter test a more visually spectacular result could have been obtained by using a greater volume of starter at a higher hydration, however I chose 100% hydration as this is what the starter in Don's recipe calls for.
During the course of both tests, room temperature was 22C (aircon) and unless components were being mixed or stretch/folded, they were kept in a thermostatically controlled proofing box at 25C.

TEST 1. AIM. To observe the relative speeds of 4 different starters. The elapsed time is less important than the relative speed, as the elapsed time can be varied by the hydration level.
METHOD. Four starters were selected, Aus (mine), Alaska (Teresa) Don (Donyeokl) and Yeast.
The Alaska starter is a known fast starter see

http://www.sourdough.com.au/phpBB/viewt ... highlight=

The yeast starter was created using 3g of Defiance instant yeast, 100g water, 100g bakers flour.
All starters were refreshed three times before the test. For the test 60g of each starter was mixed with 150g water and 150g of 11.5% bakers flour. 200g of this mix was then poured into the test containers. You can see the results below:-


The results are self evident. The yeast is obviously the fastest, doubling in 2 hours and peaking at 4 hours. Don was the next fastest doubling at 4 hours and peaking at six. Alaska doubled at 4 1/2 hours and peaked at 7.
CONCLUSIONS. While Don was faster than a known fast starter, it took twice as long as Yeast to double. From this one could reasonably assume that it is not contaminated by commercial yeast.

TEST 2. AIM. To do a test bake for the purpose of observing the relative differences in performance, speed, crumb structure, and taste, between Don and Yeast.
METHOD. Using Don's Vienna White recipe, a half (250g) batch of dough was made with each starter. They were mixed, autolysed, short kneaded, proofed, formed and final proofed as per the times and instructions in the recipe. Photos of the baking result are below :-


OBSERVATIONS/RESULTS. During the shaping stage I noticed the Yeast dough seemed stronger than Don, as in more "rubbery" for want of a better term. This is similar to the feeling I had the first time I baked this recipe using Don, having twice previously baked it with a sourdough starter.
The speed of Yeast, shown during the starter test, did not become noticable until the final 10 minutes of the proof after shaping, it was 5-10% larger than Don. This shows up in the photos of the baked loaves, though due to the slightly different shapes the difference is not as much as it seems.
As can be seen from the cut loaves there is no difference in crumb structure, and while you may be able to pick which loaf is which by the cross section shape, I defy anyone to pick which is which by the larger sliced pieces.
Four people did a blind taste test on these two loaves, no butter, just the plain bread. Result, no one could pick any difference in taste or texture in the pieces of bread that were randomly offered to them.
CONCLUSIONS. It would appear that my very first assumption may be correct, where I stated:-
1. An absolutely unique starter derived from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae yeast instead of the more common Candida Milleri yeast, without any of the characteristic sourdough flavours.

Based on the taste test, it would appear that I haven't been unduly harsh in assuming, prior to these tests, that the starter was contaminated with commercial yeast.
The taste results make me think that the starter "Don" is a Saccharomyces based starter, the speed result makes me think that it may be a "wild" variety of this yeast. The mystery remains "Where is the sourdough taste" or is the lack of it a feature of this type of yeast?


I'm not quite sure Nina, from what I've read the yeast component is in the flour so this would tend to be a regional difference. There are some differing opinions over whether the lactobacillus is also in the flour or is a local thing. Among my starters, apart from Don's, are a starter from Anchorage Alaska, and Washington State Northwest USA. Apart from Alaska which is quite fast, both my homegrown starter and the US starter are similar in working speed.
All three have a distinctly different sour taste.
From web research aparently there have so far been identified 49 different Lactobacillus strains that can influence the flavour of sourdough.

That's really interesting Bill.
I'm surpriced to see the difference in speed between Alaska and Don is not all that great when the difference in taste is so significant.

This also makes me wonder if the differences are regional or if every single starter is unique... and if the kind of flour the starter is being fed will affect the behavior? (I'm thinking about regional differences in flour.) Hm, now there's something to think about...


Thanks and will get to it once I can...


Worth a try with the active starter Don. BTW that starter of mine usually lives and works at 100% hyd, but is also happy at 166%. Going through the 166% stage when rehydrating is just to make it a bit easier for the starter to find its legs.

Don, why not try a separate pot of starter that is mostly yours but with a bit of the one I sent you in it. With a bit of luck you may get the speed of yours and some of the flavour of mine, worth a try. I'd try it myself but I've got starters coming out my ears, and another on the way.

Hi Bill,

Don, why not try a separate pot of starter that is mostly yours but with a bit of the one I sent you in it.

When you say with a bit of yours, are you referring to the starter that's in the dried state or already hydrated? I still have a bottle of your 166% starter, I reckon I will use that to mix into the new batch... Good idea???



Don, I'm going to keep it in my fridge for when I suddenly want some fresh rolls for lunch, or I have guests that don't like the taste of sourdough.

Thats a good back-up for something quick...


. I just started a new batch of starter so will see if there's any difference in taste from the ones I sent you.


Don, I'm going to keep it in my fridge for when I suddenly want some fresh rolls for lunch, or I have guests that don't like the taste of sourdough.

Very interesting!

I wonder if the "Don" starter would eventually be overtaken by more usual sourdough behaviour, or not? Probably academic if it's so easily duplicated with commercial yeast, but perhaps it would have made someone's fortune if discovered early enough.




You are relentless in your pursuit mate...


It's an interesting experiment you did and its weird how the starter behave but do not taste anything like sourdough...

Rolling Eyes

Guess its one of those alien thingy.


Take care...