Getting the stored starter ready for making dough or sponge

Equipment, etc.:

Procedure:

  1. To start, lift a jelly-bean-sized blob of refrigerator culture* with the chopstick and suspend it in 60 ml of water in the large transparent container.
  2. Add 100 ml of flour, mix with the chopstick, and set in a warm place until its volume is at least quadrupled. (Might take 8 hours, might take less, probably not more.)
  3. Stir it down and resuspend it in 120 ml of water. Mix in 200 ml of flour and let quadruple in volume. Optionally stir it down and let it rise some more. (These rises are quicker.)

That yields ~ 12 ounces (by weight) of very active starter at approximately 100% hydration (50-50 flour and water by weight) which would occupy a volume of about 10 fluid ounces if it could be stirred free of gas.

*Every several weeks, or when it is depleted or gets hooched over, it is good to feed up a new refrigerator culture using steps 1. and 2. above. My refrigerator culture is kept in a 8 fl. oz. spice jars (see photo below). Refrigeration starts before the rising ceases. Alternatively, the refrigerator culture can be renewed by replacing it with a small portion of the step-3 product.

My warm place is at the back of the top surface of a gas range, near the vent, where warm air from the oven's pilot flame emerges -- it keeps the stuff at 80 to 85F. In the photo, the large transparent container has a capacity of ~ 40 fluid ounces. A step-3 starter has completed its second rise. The step-3 before-rise level has been marked with a "Sharpie" marker.

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- Dick Adams Rev. #1, 6-11-2003