“Can you use cold flour or water in your sourdough starter or recipes?” Tami T. asks on today’s #AskWardee. I’m sharing my answer below!
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“Keep it warm, keep it warm, KEEP IT WARM!”
When someone comes to me with sourdough trouble…
…the first question I usually ask is, “Are you keeping it in a warm place?” or “Is it warm enough?”
Because sourdough starter needs to be warm to be active and strong and useful in your baking.
Which begs another question…
If it needs to be kept warm so badly, can you feed it with cold flour or cold water? Will that kill it or is it OK?
Really great question. And funnily enough, someone emails at least weekly to ask it. So I know it’s on your mind!
It’s on Tami T.’s mind as well, because she recently asked:
From Tami T.:
“Is it helpful for sourdough bread ingredients to be warmed to room temperature before mixing?” –Tami T.
And my answer? See below…
1. Yes, It Is Helpful.
It’s helpful for ingredients to be warmed to room temperature before mixing. Or feeding your sourdough starter.
The reason is: the sourdough starter is happiest when it’s warm. It’s active, eats food, it’s just happy!
This is why I love to feed my starter and create my bread dough with flour that’s even a bit warm from grinding. And I put warmish water in the starter/dough.
2. Can You Feed Cold Flour, Water, Or Other Ingredients, Though?
Yes, you can.
Think about if you take a break from your sourdough starter by putting it in the fridge for a week or so. What happens? It slows down from being chilled. Does it die, though? No. Does it still eat its food? Yes.
So, if you have cold ingredients for your starter’s feeding or for the recipe, no big deal. Just account for extra time for everything to come back up to room temp (because the cold ingredients will cool the starter/dough). And make sure to keep it in a warm place so that it’s nice and cozy when it gets back up to temp.
3. Can You Feed Cold Ingredients Strategically?
Yes. Think about summer, when your starter is hot all the time. You feed it and it blows through its food in no time. So when you go to make your bread dough, you’ve missed the active peak. This is a timing issue.
You can use cold ingredients to feed your starter so it doesn’t hit its peak quite so fast, which may be more convenient with your schedule.
Same thing goes for dough. You create your dough but you know you’re not going to be ready for the next stage in time. Use cold-ish ingredients to slow it down so it’s ready for the next stage when you are.
It takes some trial and error to time it exactly, and frankly, I wouldn’t try timing anything exactly. Which is the beauty of traditional cooking. However, we can use the temperature of our additional ingredients or flour/water for feedings to our advantage.
The converse is true. Use warm flour/water/etc. when you need the activity to go fast! Because maybe you’re in a hurry!
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I want to know: Do you ever use cold ingredients in sourdough starter or recipes? Why or why not?
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I tried the sourdough twice: both done in a crockpot, inside the crockpot I use a Pyrex bread glass. I tried one plain white bread out of King Arthur flour( non GMO). After I let the dough raised in a bowl for 4-6 hour which double it size, than I knead it with olive oil and place it in the glass Pyrex pan, place the crockpot on low , until it double the dough..once it reach that point, I turned my crockpot on high for 45 min. To bake the bread.
Second time I added chia seed and just a tad of turmeric. Both bread turned out well.
Now here is a question for you..does the wild yeast still gives a person candida yeast infection? Just curious..????Thank you
Candida doesn’t have to do with the wild yeast ~ it has to do with the sugars/starches in the breads. Those feed candida and should be eliminated or moderated to get a handle on the infection.:)
Traditional Cooking School
Thank you so much!
I experiment with cold whey as my liquid in the sourdough starter.. Why? I have lots in refrigerator, from making Greek yogurts.. The whey has wild yeast,plus protein. Still working on getting the sourdough bread lighter in weight. My breads so far are little on the heavy side. Is there a secret were we can make a lighter loaf? Yes I do put my starter in a warm place on my stove, it had plilot lights. This helps my starter to become active, pretty fast.
Still testing, practice makes perfect, and having fun!
Thank for listening and have a wonderful day in the kitchen..????
Here a quick question , should we feed the yeast with a tad of organic sugar to activate the wild yeast faster, also maybe help make a lighter loaf of bread? Just thinking..
Sourdough yeasts receive all the nutrition they need from flour and do not need an extra sugar boost. Adding sugar may contaminate the starter. And if you use sugar then you are feeding different organisms and that’s a different kind of sourdough starter than we use and recommend and base our recipes on.
Longer kneading can help with a lighter loaf. And as your starter matures it will also produce a lighter loaf.
Traditional Cooking School
We’re suspicious that the organisms in the whey may compete with the starter’s culture and that may be the reason your breads are on the heavy side. (Too much bacteria from the whey, not enough yeast.) We don’t know for sure, though. We’d suggest going back to using water for the starter and using the whey in the dough (as the liquid), and also for watering plants and compost. Or for making old fashioned ricotta cheese.
Traditional Cooking School