Category Archives: Starter and Preferments

July 19th, 2016

Krümmelsauer / Gerstl

Krümmelsauer (1) Some days ago I had to sent some sourdough per mail. That is easy when the sourdough is mixed with a lot of flour to form dry crumbs – the German name for this is “Krümmelsauer” while it is called “Gerstl” in Austria. The crumbs should be as dry and fine as possible. This reduce the amount of water and put the microorganisms to hibernation. In this state there is nearly no fermentation going on.

Reactivation is easy as well. Mixing the “Krümmelsauer” with water and waiting until the first bubbles are showing. And as I realised that I never showed this kind of sourdough conservation on the blog, I made a double batch. One halve I sent to Berlin, the other one I kept for three days on the counter to simulate the enviroment during mailing. Then I mixed the sourdough crumbles with water and as my sourdough is quite active I saw the first bubbles after one hours already. I let the mixture ferment for another five hours, then I used it to start a sourdough. And this sourdough doubled its volume easily overnight.


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May 23rd, 2015

Bread baking for Beginners XII: Rising a sourdough


The oldest method to rise a bread is using sourdough. As soon as water is mixed with flour, yeasts and lacto bacteria which can be found in the flour starts to proliferate. Soon the first bubbles can be observed which is a sign of the microorganism activity. The microfauna starts to stabilize. In Spelt and Wheat sourdough the dominating species are the same, while in rye sourdough other bacteria species are predominant. The is the reason why rye sourdough is more sour than a wheat or spelt sourdough.

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March 22nd, 2014

How to dry and reactivate your sweet starter

Trockensicherung süßer Starter

Having a active sourdough like the sweet starter is a good thing. But there is always the risk of loosing. It could starve while you are on a longer vacation or because you have no time for bread baking. Or (worst case scenario) some mould could start to grow on your precious sourdough. And that’s when a backup can be handy.

When I grow my sweet starter in December, I decided to test two different methods for storing sourdough: Freezing and drying. And after three months I tested which method provides a faster success when I reactivating. I mixed both the frozen and the dried starter with fresh flour and water and left them on the counter. After 20 hours the dried starter was clearly back to life as I could judge from the increase of volume. A feeding with flour and water showed that it could already triple its volume after 4 hours on 30°C, like it would before freezing.

The frozen starter was barely alive after the same time, only some tiny bubbles suggest that it was not completely dead. But that does not surprise me so much, because during the freezing process the water in the cells of the microorganisms starts to form crystals, which damage the cells. During drying on the other hand the cells form spores to survive  the unpleasant situation and spring back to life as soon as it comes in contact with water and flour.

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December 29th, 2013

Sweet Starter (new version with adjusted amounts)

A sweet Starter, sometimes called italian starter as well, is a sourdough which rises very strong due to high temperature and frequent feeding. The yeasts in the sourdough develop very strongly under this conditions, while the bacteria produce less acids. This yields into the very mild taste of this starter.

For my Pandoro-recipe I needed more sweet starter then the old sweet starter recipe would yield, so I adjust the amounts here. But that is the only thing that changed!

After two days of feeding after the sweet starter schedule, the starter should be able to triple its volume in four hours. If it can not, you should elongate the feeding for another day!

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August 4th, 2012

Lievito madre

LM enIn a comment to one of my bread recipes the preferment livito madre was described, with a link to the Brotbackforum. The description sounded fascinating and I always love to make Sourdoughs, and so I mixed Flour, water, honey and oil and observed what would happen.

After 24 hours, the dough rise highly and doubled its volumen. After 48 hours I feed it again and now it rose even faster, doubling its volumen in 12 hours, after 36 hours it nearly tripled. I feed the livito madre once again and placed it in the fridge for 5 days as the recipe suggested.

In the fridge it showed nearly no activity, but the ovenspring of the rolls I baked with this sourdough (using it right out of the fridge) was amazing. Their taste was mild and complex, not as tangy as with my normal sourdough. The lievito madre itself do not taste as normal sourdough as well. Its taste is fruitlike, with hints of yeast and it smells lightly after fresh yoghurt. It seems, that the lievito madre contains another mixture of bacteria and yeasts due to firm dough and the honey which was added in the beginning.

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December 4th, 2010

Starting a Sourdough Starter

It has been month since I bake with sourdough the last time. I was always very busy and neglected my sourdough completely. The little glass in which I store the sourdough vanished somewhere in the depth of the fridge. Now, as the time gets more quite, I planned to bake with sourdough again. But when I opend the glas the dough looked not good and its smell was strange. I tried to reactivate the dough but it was beyond hope. I think I starved it to death.

Lucky for me that I never had a close relationship to a batch of sourdough. I’m not the kind of girl who gives its sourdough a name and a personality, for me it is just a mixture of different bacteria and yeasts. So my dead sourdough did not left me heartbroken at all but a little bit exited because now I had the change to do what I really love: Starting a Starter. It is really the most enthralling part of baking with sourdough. Seeing how the first bubbles are formed and the dough starts to rise, to realize how the smell change that’s the right thing for a biologist.

I love projects in my kitchen which bubble and ferment. And I always planned to post about starting a Sourdough starter. And so we start: Please take out your flour, we start a starter today. Continue reading

April 21st, 2010

Raisin sourdough

RosinensauerteigI love (kitchen)experiments. And when they are bubbling and fizzing I love them even more. That’s the reason why I could not resist when I read about raisin sourdough on Chaosqueen’s Kitchen. I read about rising wild yeast that are living on dry fruits on Pain de Martin and Orignial Yeast, too.

And it is really simple to prepare this kind of sourdough. Organic raisins are mixed with honey sugar water and kept on a warm place. After 5 days the mixture bubbled strongly and had a strong alcoholic smell. The Raisin water (without the raisins) is then mixed with flour to create the sourdough.

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December 26th, 2009

Sweet Starter

Süßer Starter Michael Suas recommend in “advanced bread and pastry” to create a sweet starter to bake sweet bread like Panettone or Pandoro. Due to rising this starter on high temperature and many feedings, the growth of wild yeast is encourage as wells as the growth of homfermenting lactobacilli while bacteria producing acetic acid are inhibited by the high temperature. This produce a very vigorous but jet very mild tasting sourdough.

We need this very vigorous starter because the high amount of sugar and butter in the dough of Pandoro or Panettone inhibits the growth of yeast.

To keep the starter on a constant temperature I placed it in my microwave and turn the light on (just the light, not the microwave!). The light bulb produce enough warmth to heat the microwave to 30°C what is perfect for the starter. Continue reading