Rye Starter

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

Appears in

Bourke Street Bakery

By Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Published 2009

  • About

Creating a rye starter is similar to creating a white starter, except a lot easier, as the rye flour will ferment more quickly. The guiding principal is the same, with a variation of 60% water to 40% flour — rye flour can absorb a lot more water than white flour, so it needs a little more water to help it rise.

Method

Day One

Genesis — Use a clean bucket and place in it 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water and 40 g ( oz) organic rye flour. Stir the water and flour together with a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight.

Day Two

First feed — the total weight of the starter is now 100 g ( oz). Your first feed will be 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) and 40 g ( oz) organic rye flour. Stir the water and flour together with a spoon, then add the starter and fold it through to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight.

Day Three

Second feed — the total weight of the starter is now 200 g (7 oz). The second feed will be 120 ml ( fl oz) water and 80 g ( oz) organic rye flour. Stir the water and flour together with a spoon, then add the starter and fold it through to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight.

Day Four

Third feed — the total weight of the starter is now 400 g (14 oz). The third feed will be 240 ml (8 fl oz) water and 160 g ( oz) organic rye flour. Stir the water and flour together with a spoon, then add the starter and fold it through to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight.

Day Five

On day five the total weight of the starter will be 800 g (1 lb 12 oz). You need to reduce the starter weight to 100 g ( oz), discarding the rest to the compost.

Continue to follow the feeding schedules as for the white starter (see charts) making sure you adjust the feed amounts accordingly. The rye starter will not bubble and froth as much as the white starter. It will rise slowly up, then fall dramatically in on itself when it has run out of sugar to eat and convert into carbon dioxide, so it can not rise any further. This tells you that your starter is active and that it needs to be fed.

White Starter Weekly Feeding Schedule
Weeks 1–3
feed time water flour total weight
Day 1
Genesis 7 am 50 ml 50 g 100 g
  (1¾ fl oz) (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) (3½ oz)
Day 2
First feed 7 am 50 ml 50 g 200 g
  (1¾ fl oz) (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) (7 oz)
Day 3
Second feed 7 am 100 ml 100 g 400 g
  (3½ fl oz) (3½ oz/⅔ cup) (14 oz)
Day 4
Third feed 7 am 200 ml 200 g 800 g
  (7 fl oz) (7 oz/1⅓ cups) (1 lb 12 oz)

Day 5 Place 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) of the sourdough starter in the compost.

Start again to feed 100 g (3½ oz) of sourdough starter.

First feed 7 am 50 ml 50 g 200 g
  (1¾ fl oz) (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) (7 oz)
Day 6
Second feed 7 am 100 ml 100 g 400 g
  (3½ fl oz) (3½ oz/⅔ cup) (14 oz)
Day 7
Third feed 7 am 200 ml 200 g 800 g
  (7 fl oz) (7 oz/1⅓ cups) (1 lb 12 oz)

After the third week, the starter should be strong enough to use in a dough. When you go to make the dough, you need to build up the feeds to make the starter stronger. The day you go to use the starter in a dough, start with 100 g (3½ oz) starter and feed it three times (see chart). It is strongest after the third feed.

If you are making a rye starter adjust the feed amounts above to a ratio of 60% water to 40% organic rye flour. On the day you go to use the rye starter in a dough, start with 100 g (3½ oz) starter and feed it three times, following the chart — you will need to adjust the amounts accordingly.

White Starter Final Feeding Schedule
Week 4
feed time water flour total weight
Dough Making Day
First feed 1 pm 50 ml 50 g 200 g
  (1¾ fl oz) (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) (7 oz)
Second feed 9 pm 100 ml 100 g 400 g
  (3½ fl oz) (3½ oz/⅔ cup) (14 oz)
Third feed 6 am 200 ml 200 g 800 g
  (7 fl oz) (7 oz/1⅓ cups) (1 lb 12 oz)
With this feeding schedule the sourdough or rye dough is best made around 1 pm. There is some give with these times; an hour either side will still be okay. You can alter this schedule to suit the time you want to mix. However, the starter is the most important thing. If it is not ready or not correctly fed, there is no point in mixing a dough.
Once you go to use the starter in a dough, remember to put 100 g (3½ oz) starter aside and continue feeding it for future use. If you are not making bread regularly and you have an established starter, it should survive in the refrigerator being fed once every 2-4 days. You will need to take it out a couple of days before you intend to make a bread dough. Give it sweet loving and three square meals of flour and water on the day the dough is to be made.
It is also possible to freeze a white starter and bring it back with the same love and food as mentioned above. Make sure you freeze the starter in a sterilised bucket when it is at its most active (that is, near the end of the third feed).