Explaining Sour Dough Starters


Hello! Im a sour dough newby. I have the great fortune of having a flour mill a mile from my home. I have been experimenting now for a few weeks. Generally I refresh the leaven with 100g water and 125g of flour. I notice a few of the recipes (on this site) have "technical" jargon. Would someone mind explaining a few of the terms/ techniques please? I notice %ages are used a lot and auto"something-or-other". Can anyone decifer for me? I have a dough hook on a mixer but generally all other stages are done by hand.

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ed_f's picture
ed_f 2015 October 17

Hope this helps.

I think you are talking about autolyse. This is technique in which you mix your flour and water until there are no dry bits. Then let it sit for 2o minutes to two hours. During this time there the flour fully hydrates, there are enzimatic reactions and less kneading and work is required.

Percentages are all about bakers math. This is a way to see a bread formula and have a sense of the basic structure of the dough. One of the important things is the hydration of the dough. Without a complete bakers math lesson. Here is the highlight on hydration. In bakers math every thing is in comparison to the amount of flour. And flour is always considered 100%.

So if you have 10 kilos of flour and 5 kilos of water your dough is 50% hydration. 7.5 kilos of water 75% hydration and so on.  This allows formulas to be easily scaled up or down. Also if you see something like "This is a 85% hydration dough" you learn that is pretty wet and sticky.

Hope that is of help if not. Let me know I will try and fill in the gaps.

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