Is a wet starter better for sourdough?

(Egg) #1

Hello this is my first post. I am Egg (because I love eggs).

I am lazy and instead of weighing flour & water when I feed my starter daily, I measure 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup white flour to feed my self made starter. He is happy (his name is Harvey) but I got a bannetone for Christmas and my dough is quite honestly a puddle so cannot go in a bannetone or it seeps into the cracks, sticks & makes a mess.
The loaves I make are delicious toasted, chewy, holey & I’m pretty chuffed but I think I’ve been flukey so far to be honest. They aren’t so nice as bread, e.g. untoasted
I’m following a recipe by The Spring Oven on YouTube called ‘How to make the perfect sourdough loaf’, and it turns out fine, but I have to cook it in my le creuset as the dough is so liquidy it needs to be contained.
What should I do? Should I measure weight ratios of water : flour properly and make my starter & in turn my dough a bit drier? Do I start from scratch, make a new starter or how can I make a ‘normal’ sourdough loaf, how ‘normal‘ people do. I have been lazy, but now I want to up my game.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
Attached a few photos for you to see my loaves so far…,
Egg x

(Melissa) #2

You can add a wet starter to a dry dough and vice versa. Starter hydration doesn’t determine final dough hydration.

I did the same starter feeding routine as you for a while. It works great. If you follow a recipe that expects 100% hydration starter, but use your closer to 140% hydration starter, you will have a soupier dough if the recipe calls for a lot of starter. It’s not a big deal but can make shaping and using a banneton more tricky.

If you’re happy with your bread, why change it 🤷 If you want to start experimenting with shaping bread and scoring it, you can use less water in your dough and/or your starter.

(Egg) #3

Thanks so much for your reply. :slight_smile:
I’m happy enough with my bread but, yes I’d like to experiment and I’d love to be able to create a slightly drier loaf that is better to eat as bread, instead of having to toast it.

I don’t fully understand hydration. Am I right in thinking 140% is a ratio of 14 parts water to 10 parts flour? So that would be wetter? Anyway, I can google and I’ll experiment with a drier dough.

Does anyone know generally what the benefit of a wetter dough is meant to be? I think I read it creates a chewier texture and I don’t want to lose any of my chewiness if I can help it.

Again, your help is really appreciated.


Egg x

(Melissa) #4

100% hydration is same weight flour and water.

Baking is often done by weight, because of how variable the volume of flour is:
If I pour flour from a bag into a canister, then scoop out one cup, it’s fluffy and less actual flour than if it has settled.
And people’s ideas of a full measuring spoon/cup is varied too.

You can still do volume instead of weight though and make great bread, just use your sense of touch to get a dough wetness/consistency you are happy with.

I eventually bought a scale and never looked back. I end up using fewer dishes and can scale recipes up and down much easier.

Wetter dough, like in ciabatta and focaccia, has more holes “open crumb” usually. To make a wet dough into a boule or batard (not flatish like the ones I mentioned or poured into a loaf pan), you want to develop the gluten and get experience shaping.

Here’s a good recipe to start with for a sourdough bread that imo is not wet or dry, tastes great toasted and untoasted:

Here’s a thread discussing Baker’s percentages in (way) more detail:

(Melissa) #5

To correct myself :slight_smile: your 1:1 flour water volume starter is about 175% hydration not 140%.

1 cup flour 135g
1 cup water 236g

(Egg) #6

Thank you so much again!! I’ll refer to this for the maths and will definitely try that recipe, thanks :slight_smile: