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Sweet Stiff Sourdough Starter


Have you ever explored the realm of sweet stiff sourdough starters? The diverse universe of sourdough offers limitless possibilities for creative baking. Among these possibilities, a sweet stiff starter stands out especially when it comes to sweet recipes. These starters prove exceptionally versatile in crafting delectable treats like cinnamon rolls, brioche, or even a traditional sourdough loaf ensuring no sourdough tang.

The beauty lies in their simplicity, requiring just an active sourdough starter, flour, water, and sugar. Additionally, they require no maintenance and are typically made for a one-time use.

This comprehensive recipe and informative article aims to address all your queries about crafting a sweet starter. If you’re eager to embark on this culinary adventure, your search ends here!

sweet sourdough starter

What is a sweet stiff starter?

A sweet stiff sourdough starter is a type of sourdough starter that is characterized by its low hydration and sweetness. Stiff starters typically have around 40-50% hydration or less, which makes them thicker and more dough-like in texture. The sweetness comes from the sugar and the natural fermentation process of the starter, which produces sugars that give the dough a sweet flavor. This ultimately mutes that notable sourdough tang that isn’t always desired in sweet recipes.

Why use them?

Sweet stiff sourdough starters are great to use in sweet recipes where you don’t want the sourdough tang to overpower the flavor. They also produce a denser texture, which is lovely in sweet recipes. The best part about it, is it still holds all that wonderful gut nutrition!

Do I have to maintain a sweet starter?

The answer is no. Think of a sweet stiff starter as a levain where you are taking from your active, mature starter and creating a rising agent for your bread by mixing it with flour, water, & sugar. You are making it once and using it for your recipe only.

What do I do with the leftover starter?

This recipe does make around 300 grams of sweet starter and you most likely will have some leftovers.

I always store any leftover starter in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Think of it as a sweet discard and you can use it in various discard recipes!

sweet stiff sourdough starter - leftover sweet starter

Alternative sweet stiff starter conversions

Any recipe that calls for a 100% hydration sourdough starter can be converted using a sweet starter. If you want to make a more exact sweet levain take a look at the common ratios below.

Keep in mind when using a sweet stiff starter in a recipe that is designed around a 100% hydration starter, you will need to decrease the amount of flour. I usually start by decreasing the flour by half a cup.

Use a 1:3:1.5 ratio

My suggestion for creating a sweet stiff levain is to use a ratio of 1:3:1.5 (1 part starter; 3 parts flour; 50% hydration) and keeping the sugar around the same amount as the starter. Don’t worry I’ll provide some examples.

Feel free to alter the sugar level to your sweetness preference. You can decrease or increase the sugar content if you desire.

Below are some examples of standard amounts commonly used in recipes. There will always be about 5-10 grams of extra starter so a float test can be done or if it sticks to the sides of the jar. It is better to have a little more than less.

  • For 100 grams: 15 grams starter; 60 grams AP flour; 30 grams water; 15 grams sugar
  • For 150 grams: 20 grams starter; 90 grams AP flour; 45 grams water; 20 grams sugar
  • For 200 grams: 25 grams starter; 120 grams AP flour; 60 grams water; 25 grams sugar
  • For 250 grams: 30 grams starter; 150 grams AP flour; 75 grams water; 30 grams sugar
sweet starter

Why I love this recipe:

This is my go-to recipe for a few reasons:

  • No need for a food scale. I provide the cup measurements and it works every time even if it is not measured perfectly.
  • It is versatile and can be used in almost any recipe without having to make adjustments.
  • With the effort put into making a sweet starter, I personally like having the extra sweet starter leftover to use in sourdough discard recipes like cookies and muffins.
  • The ratios make for a vigorous rise and the sweetness balances perfectly with the sourdough.
  • After making it a few times, it’s easy to memorize and can be a go-to without any extra steps or thought.
sweet stiff sourdough starter

Timing your sweet starter

When making a sweet stiff sourdough starter it will typically take 8-12 hours to hit its peak or be ready for use in a recipe. This can vary depending on the season and temperature in your environment.

I will usually make my sweet starter in the evening and mix the dough in the morning.

You can also make a sweet starter in the morning and mix your dough by evening if it is an overnight recipe.

Essentially give yourself that 8-12 hour window before planning to mix a dough.

Tips for success:

  • Use an active sourdough starter when mixing your sweet stiff starter. This means one that was fed within the past 12 hours. This will help with an optimal rise. However, I have used an unfed starter, it just needed more time to rise.
  • If you are noticing a sluggish rise in the sweet starter, I recommend placing it somewhere warm like in the oven with the light on. Or a microwave with a bowl of hot water next to it.

My go-to sweet stiff sourdough starter recipe

Note: Keep in mind gram measurements can vary due to different types of flour and temperature of water etc. Thankfully this recipe is very forgiving!

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) of active sourdough starter
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) of sugar
  • 120 grams (1 cup) of all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams (slightly less than 1/2 cup) of water
sweet stiff sourdough starter - ingredients

Equipment:

Instructions:

  • To a clean jar add the active sourdough starter.
  • Next, add the water and stir until the water becomes “milky.”
mixing sweet stiff starter
  • Then add the sugar and stir until most of it has dissolved.
  • Lastly, add the flour and mix until no traces of flour are left.
sweet stiff sourdough starter - add the flour and mix until no traces of flour are left.
  • Cover the jar loosely with the cap and the starter should double in size within 8-12 hours.

Sourdough recipes to try with a sweet starter:

sweet stiff sourdough starter
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Sweet Stiff Sourdough Starter

This versatile sweet stiff sourdough starter recipe guarantees no sourdough tang with a pleasant texture for your sweet doughs, all without the need for ongoing maintenance!
Prep Time10 minutes
Servings: 300 grams

Equipment

  • Glass jar with loose a lid
  • Fork or silicone spatula
  • Food scale (optional)
  • Measuring cups if using

Ingredients

  • 50 grams active sourdough starter 1/4 cup
  • 50 grams sugar 1/4 cup
  • 120 grams all-purpose flour 1 cup
  • 100 grams water slightly less than 1/2 cup

Instructions

  • To a clean jar add the active sourdough starter.
  • Next add the water and stir until the water becomes "milky."
  • Then add the sugar and stir until most of it has dissolved.
  • Lastly, add the flour and mix until no traces of flour are left.
  • Cover the jar loosely with the cap and the starter should double in size within 8-12 hours.
  • Any leftover sweet starter can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week and used in various sweet sourdough discard recipes.

Notes

*Use an active sourdough starter when mixing your sweet stiff starter. This means one that was fed within the past 12 hours. This will help with an optimal rise. However, I have used an unfed starter, it will need more time to rise.
*If you are noticing a sluggish rise in the sweet starter, I recommend placing it somewhere warm like in the oven with the light on. Or a microwave with a bowl of hot water next to it.
*This particular sweet starter is a bit higher in hydration than a typical stiff levain. This makes it versatile to use in almost any recipe that uses a 100% hydration sourdough starter without having to make adjustments. 

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Comments

  1. kathy mckinley Avatar
    kathy mckinley

    Can I make this without the sugar?

    1. Yes! In that case it would just be a stiff starter. And keep in mind it will still give your baked goods a slight sour taste, but some people don’t mind that 🙂