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HOW MUCH SOURDOUGH TO USE

Knowing how much sourdough to use strongly depends on what type of recipe you are about to prepare, especially on its fat, egg, and salt content. These ingredients are responsible for slowing down the fermentation due to several factors. For example, eggs increase the dough’s pH (they make it less acidic) and contrast the Sourdough’s acidity. On the other hand, salt slows down the fermentation, “stealing” vital water from the yeast cells.

With that said, the quantity of Sourdough to use may vary if we make bread (which is a “lean” dough, easier to rise) or pastries as Viennoiseries or Panettone (richer in fat and sugar).

HOMEMADE BREAD WITH SOURDOUGH STARTER AND LEVAIN

The homemade bread preparation usually starts with a BIGA preferment. This Italian word indicates a pre-fermented dough made with a ripe starter (refreshed 2 times as I explained) and fermented for at least 16 to 18 hours.

In this case, I suggest using 200-250gr of ripe Sourdough for each kg of flour.

Generally speaking, you can make an excellent Biga as follow:

  • 1kg of Bread Flour
  • 250gr of ripe Sourdough refreshed twice
  • 500gr of water

The preparation is effortless and straightforward. Knead all the ingredients just the time needed to absorb the water, without exceeding. The final dough has to be quite rough! It’s ok, don’t worry about it!

Remind that the final temperature of the Biga should be around 20°C (68°F), and the best way to obtain this is to adjust the water temperature accordingly. Here is an easy formula to avoid any mistakes:

Water Temp = 55 – Room Temp – Flour Temp

!! Pls, note that this formula only works with Celsius degrees. Do the calculation in °C and then convert the result to °F !!

Furthermore, suppose you prefer to make the bread dough in 2 steps (as we often do when we work with a sourdough starter). In that case, Sourdough’s quantity in the first dough will be around 300-500gr for each kg of flour and you have to triple the dough at 26°C (79°F) before proceeding with the final dough.

For those who prefer using a Levain (typically a liquid starter kept in a pot and stored in the fridge), the quantity will range from 200gr to 1 kg for each kg of flour.

Consider that as the quantity of levain, the bread’s sour taste will also increase once it is baked. Obviously, this is only a sour taste (therefore wholly harmless). Still, it does not meet many people’s favor, so if you want to prepare 100% levain-made bread, I suggest you add 0.1% of fresh yeast for each kg of flour (1gr of yeast per 1kg of flour).

It is crucial to remember that before using a levain in the recipe, you have first refresh it (as I explain on this page) and let it ferment for 3 hours at 30°C (86°F).

FOR A PIZZA MADE WITH SOURDOUGH

Suppose you want to make a Pizza using the sourdough starter. In that case, I suggest you use a Biga fermented for 16-18 hours, prepared with 250gr of ripe starter (refreshed twice) for each Kg of flour.

Once the Biga is ready, you can go ahead with the preparation and make the final dough, using:

300gr of Biga/kg of flour for a soft acidity dough, easier to manage without specific temperature control.

500gr of Biga/kg of flour for a more acidic (and tasty) dough. I recommend this ratio, especially in the winter season.

When the dough is ready, let it proof for 2-3 hours before baking.

Pizza with Biga
Try the Recipe
pizza with biga on biancolievito

PASTRIES WITH SOURDOUGH STARTER

The quantity of starter used for pastries is about 350-450gr/kg of flour. Here, ripe Sourdough can be used at the second or third refreshment, and the preparation is usually split into 2 steps. The first dough is fermented at 26°C (78°F) until it triples its initial volume (within 10-12h). We usually add fats, sugars, aroma, and other ingredients for finishing the recipe in the second dough.

It is also essential to let the first dough rise at 26°C (78°F) -28°C (82°F) to control as much as possible the acidity of the dough and avoid it’s going to exceed.

Pls, note that the main difference between using a ripe starter at the second rather than at the third refreshment mainly consists of a lower capacity of preservation over time. This aspect can be relevant when making pastries such as Panettone, Pandoro, or Colomba, which have to last for many weeks. Still, in most home preparations, the cakes we make are going to disappear shortly!

AND HOW MUCH FRESH YEAST TO USE EACH KILOGRAM OF FLOUR?

If you prefer to use Fresh Yeast, I suggest you pay attention to the quantity you will use. If used in excessive quantities, the fresh yeast will leave a strong aroma in the baked product in the baked product, and it will let them dry quickly. You will also get a cake or bread that is not easy to digest. I prefer to use small quantities of yeast and work with a longer fermentation time to have a more digestible product and a better taste.

For the preparation of homemade Bread or Pizza, I suggest you prepare a Biga first (as explained above), using fresh yeast in a quantity of about 10gr per kilogram of flour.

An average dosage to mix 1 kilogram of flour and prepare dough for bread or Pizza could be: 

  • 200gr of bread flour used for the Biga
  • 800gr of bread flour used for the final dough. 

For the Biga, you can mix:

  • 200gr of Bread Flour
  • 88gr of water (44% of flour weight)
  • 2gr of Fresh Yeast (1% of flour weight)

Once mixed, you can let the Biga ferment for 16 to 18 hours at 19°C (66°F) and then use it for preparing bread or Pizza (here is my recipe for the Pizza made with a Biga).

Suppose you want to make bread or Pizza directly without making the Biga. In that case, I suggest you use 10gr of yeast on 1 kilo of flour and then do a bulk fermentation at 28°C (82°F) – 30°C (86°F) for 4-6 hours, before forming the loaves and proceed with the final proofing.

In case you want to make pastries (richer in sugars and fats), the quantity of fresh yeast to use is around 15 – 20gr for every kilogram of flour. Obviously, you can vary this quantity according to the room temperature. In the summertime, you will decrease it slightly and increase it in wintertime.

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