Starter/Leaven/Tartine

If you add 200 g flour, 200 g water and 1 tlb starter, will you end up with 200 g of leaven?

Why does Robertson say to discard all but I TLB of your mother starter and keep some of the leaven for future loafs? Seems like the leaven was super fed, not the 1.1.1 ratio of the starter.

Thanks so much!
Sylvia

I would think if you add 200g flour + 200g water to 1 tbsp starter you’ll end up with 400g of leaven.

Without haing the book in-front of me i’m thinking he means that the extra bit of leaven you have made will be the starter for the next recipe.

Perhaps the 1:1:1 ratio you’re talking about was making the starter from scratch but keeping the extra leaven to be starter for the next loaf is maintenance. Many ways to get to the same pplace as long as you always keep something for the next bake.

Thank you Abe for your reply! For maintenance do you keep your original starter or the leaven?
Also, why would Robertson have you make 400 g of leaven when you only need 200 g for the recipe?

Very difficult to say as I don’t have the book. But as long as you have the correct amount of leaven to go then that part of the recipe is open to interpretation. For instance…

Some will build a leaven but build a bit extra. That little extra becomes the starter for the next leaven build.

I keep my starter and leaven separate. So what i’ll do is build about 100g starter and keep it in the fridge. From this starter i’ll take a little off to build the exact amount of leaven I need for a recipe. When the starter in the fridge runs low i’ll re-feed it, allow it to activate and return it to the fridge.

It does seem strange that he recommends to build 400g and only uses 200g. The only thing I can think of is he wants you to build an extra 200g which you keep for the next time. Then you discard everything but 1 tablespoon and use that to build the next 400g (of which you use 200g) and so on. But that seems very wasteful. then again i’m only guessing here.

The only way to be sure is if you could show me what he says and his explanations. Perhaps you can email me the instructions he advises and i’ll look through it. Perhaps it needs further explanation or some tweaking for your own needs.

Wow, thank you Abe! You answered all my questions. I think you are exactly correct on Robertson’s reasoning for the excess leaven build. I have been doing exactly the same as you, keeping 100 g of my original starter, then using that to build the leaven as needed. I also agree that it is wasteful to over build the leaven. As a fairly need SD baker, I just wanted to make sure I was on the right track. I soooo appreciate you helping me tease this out, THANK YOU!

Glad we’re on the same page :slight_smile:

Recipes are guidelines and how you end up with the exact amount of leaven, built to the correct specs, ready to go is even more open to your own needs.

If i’ve built mine but can’t start it straight away then i’ll refrigerate it for a few hours and then use. If i’ve decided too late for the recommended levain build and I have enough starter then i’ll increase the starter to feed ratio… and so on. What I always do is make sure it’s a healthy feed and nice and active.

Btw forgot to say, but I’m sure you’re doing this already, why not just half everything which will give you the 200g leaven for your loaf? 1/2 tbsp starter + 100g water + 100g flour. You’ll most likely end up with exactly 200g as some weight is lost through fermentation and sticking to sides when transferring.

Good idea, I will try that! Thanks again!

I am of the opinion that there are as many ways to do starter as there are people who bake with sourdough and have access to the internet. All of them are wrong, except the method that works well in your own kitchen.

But, when you think about it, most of the methods are variations on the same ideas for developing, maintaining and baking with starter. Also, within reasonable limits, a stable starter is resilient.

I have two of Chad Robertson’s books (#1 and #3) and have learned a lot from them, especially #3. But, I would not recommend his approach to developing and maintaining starter for the home baker. But, I respect that it works for him in his bakery. He bakes and sells bread that has a consistent crumb and flavor profile. He is able to produce that flavor profile by carefully controlling the development of the levain, not just the relative quantities of starter, flour and water, but he also controls for time and temperature. And, given that he has a bakery that produces more than one product, I doubt that any of that large quantity of discard goes to waste.

My own approach is to bake 2 loaves of bread at a time, 2 or 3 times a weak. I maintain a “mother starter” of 75 grams, the amount required for one loaf of bread. I feed that with 75 grams of water and 75 grams of water, bake with 150 grams of starter and reserve 75 grams. As a variation on that approach, I will double the 75 grams; divide that after it is ripe, reserve half and double the other half and then bake will all of that after it is ripe.

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Thanks John for the help! As a 3 month SD baker, I am still trying to find my starter/baking rhythm, without too much waste. One question:
If you have 75 g of starter, then add 75 g of water and 75 g of flour, after the rise will you have approx 225 g (75x3) of starter?