I'm using this recipe, with the following ingredients:

  • 450 grams Strong White Bread Flour
  • 300 grams Warm Water
  • 150 grams* Active Sourdough Starter
  • 12 grams Sea Salt

*This amount is can be adjusted to 50 grams for a longer 12 hour bulk ferment.

I want to take the option to reduce the starter from 150g to 50g in exchange for a longer bulk proof period. Should I replace the lost 100g of starter with an extra 50g flour and 50g water during the initial steps?

  • Hi, and welcome to SA! Have a look at the Tour and Help Center when you get a chance. In general, it is a good idea to have your post contain all necessary information, which is why I edited it to add the list of ingredients from your recipe.
    – LSchoon
    Aug 19 '20 at 7:21

Good question! Yes, if you use a 50/50 mix to feed your starter then your approach will give you the same balance and you will get the same hydration, providing you use the same flour blend as when you feed your starter. If you use a different ratio to feed your starter then stick to whatever ratio that is.

This approach will slow down your proofing for sure, maybe more than you intend. It's not linear, as in you want to slow down your proofing by 2/3 so you remove 2/3 of your starter, so do this when you have lots of time to study it. Take detailed notes and see how you get.

Another approach to slowing fermentation is to control for temperature, i.e. to put it in the refrigerator. I'd prefer this approach to reducing the starter as I'll be starting with a good batch of yeasts and giving them more time to work. Reducing the yeast at the start will mean it takes longer to get going, but also a lot longer to see the benefits of that culture.

  • I didn't say this in my initial question, but part of my problem is that my starter usually peaks and begins to deflate after about 6 to 8 hours, rather than the ~12 that I see on many websites. Last week it was 32C (~90F) in The Netherlands and my starter would peak in ~4 hours. It has a fast metabolism. Currently I feed it at a 1/2/2 ratio. And while the recipe calls for an 8 hour bulk rise, I'm having more success with 6. Hence my desire for a longer bulk rise. I don't like waking in the middle of the night to shape and then fridge my doughs.
    – Michael
    Aug 18 '20 at 21:49
  • Keep in mind you can refrigerate your bulk fermentation too.
    – GdD
    Aug 19 '20 at 10:28

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