Hydration of the starter

carla's picture

The answer to my question is probably already lurking somewhere, but i couldn't find it. So here we go:

Usually I will do a Detmold 3-stage process to refresh my starter and feed it up to the amount needed for any specific recipe I want to bake.
This means varying amounts of flour and water (and various temperatures) at the 3 stages. Before I bake I take a bit off the third stage and put it in the fridge as a starter for my next bake. Then I make my dough as usual and bake.

Now the starter I have in my fridge is not at 100% hydration but whatever the third stage was where he got plucked from.

How do you people get always starters at 100%?

Do you calculate madly to add the extra water or flour?
Or how do you operate this?

Looking forward to enlightenment

274 users have voted.


matthew 2006 August 17

I don't use a Detmold process. All of my builds/feeds/refreshes (take your pick) before mixing the dough are performed at 100% hydration. Some is then removed for storage (normally at the end of the cycle, so I feed before putting in the fridge) and the rest is used to mix the final dough.

My other theory is if I take a small amount of starter and then refresh @ 100% I end up pretty close to 100%, particularly when I take into account the couple of feeds @ 100% it's going to get when I take it out of the fridge before the next bake. But I don't put this theory to work as I always take out my storage starter/leaven/levain/barm (take your pick again) before the dough leaves the 100% stage. Sometimes I use the theory in reverse when I'm converting from 100% to some other hydration or building a rye starter (I don't feel I bake rye often enough to justify developing and keeping a separate starter). So technically even if I made a 100% rye dough it would have a minute percentage of white flour in it, and my non 100% starter (when I use them) is fractionally not 100%.


Croc 2006 August 17

if you do want to get it to the dot best way is to do it in excel like bill done for the starter

i made up excel file that i use for my bread recipe and it lets me adjust weight easly and shows me how much water i need to use to get specific hydration
very helpfull for changing recipe left right and centre

if you not too good with maths or excel post detmold process steps and i will make one up for you

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 17

Once you get your dough recipe adjusted to work with your Detmold starter it does not really matter what the hydration is, provide you create your starter exactly the same every time.
Some of my starters are at kept at 100% and some are kept at 166%, then again some I create for special recipes at 60% or 80%.
If I happen to want to use say a 166% starter in a recipe that calls for a 100% starter, then I just use my dough calculator to adjust the recipe to suit, so that the dough hydration ends up at what is called for.

carla's picture
carla 2006 August 17

Thanks for your answers!
That makes things a bit clearer.

I have found the 3 stage process very foolproof and use it a lot. If I am cramped for time then I will do just one long stage from late afternoon till the following morning.
But I find that if I do this too often the taste and yeast content change for the worse.
This might be only because I use mainly rye and might work quite differently with white wheat.

After seeing all your nice wheat loaves with big holes I must try my hand at a wheat sourdough again!
And of course summer is coming up soon with lots of focaccias, olive breads and other lighter breads which need to baked as accompaniement to salads.

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