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When Is My Starter Ready to Use?

Timing is important: when you add starter to your dough affects the flavor of your bread. Next, flavor: As a baker, the choice of flavor is yours. The flavor of your starter will impart flavor into your loaf of bread.

Flavor, flavor, flavor

As a baker, the choice of flavor is yours, and the flavor of your starter will impart flavors to your loaf of bread. The timing of when you add your starter to your dough will affect the flavor of your bread. We recommend using your starter at the same time every day especially when you’re a beginner. What this really means is to use your starter at the same point in its growth cycle every day. This will help you come to understand it better, and you will get to know the flavor of your bread. Once you know these two things, you can try using your starter at a different time and see how it affects your dough.

Many bakers use their starter when it’s at its peak which will give a mild and slightly tangy flavor to the bread itself.

If you use your starter an hour or two before it reaches its peak, then you will bake an even milder loaf of bread. It’s a good idea to make sure that your starter as at least doubled in volume when using it. This will ensure that it’s vigorous enough to give some good leavening power to your dough. If you’ve ever heard or read about a baker who’s using a young levain or starter, this is what they mean.

If you used your starter an hour or two after it reaches its peak, you can truly add some tanginess to your bread. It’s a good idea to catch your starter before it starts receding too much. If you watch it closely, it will stay at its peak for an hour or two depending on how vigorous your starter is.

If you waited even longer to use your starter, it would add even more tang to your bread, but it will have lost some of its leavening power. Your bread may not rise as much as you’d like, but a starter at this point will still make fine bread. If you still wanted to make some bread with this starter, you could add a little less starter than you normally would and toss in a little baker’s yeast for its leavening power – we’d recommend just .3% – .4% of the weight of the flour in your recipe. This will give you a better chance at getting the volume you want in your loaf of bread.


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