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FAQ2020-06-07T08:09:37-07:00

FAQ’s

How do I activate my starter?2020-05-02T16:49:29-07:00

Following the instructions on the back of the Thank You letter, you’ll add 8-9 TBS of cold water to the dry starter and mix until well combined – no bumps, lumps or clumps! Then you let it double in size at room temperature (2-4 hrs), then throw it in the fridge for 24 hrs! After 24 you’ve a fully activated starter ready to bake and feed!

What comes in each container in the kit?2020-05-02T17:14:36-07:00
  1. Large Bag: Dry Bread Mix (includes salt and sugar)
  2. Plastic Container: Starter Base
  3. Small Bag: Starter Food (AP Flour and Yeast) *Necessary to strengthen starter for the first feeding.
Do I need to do anything with the starter before using it to bake with?2020-05-02T17:00:16-07:00

Before you bake, you need to leave the starter at room temperature to double in size if it hasn’t doubled in size yet in the fridge. You then cut the starter in half, one half for the recipe, the other half to feed!

How do I know if I kneaded my dough long enough?2020-05-02T17:36:18-07:00

When in doubt, do a windowpane test! We tell you how to do one here 😉

Can I make dough the night before?2020-05-02T17:33:14-07:00

We get it, not everyone has the time to spend on a multi-hour long process. If you want to prepare your dough ahead of time, just prepare your dough up until the second proof. Get your dough into the container you want to bake in, cover, and let it sit until the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

Don’t leave it for more than 24 hours!

How do I know my dough has proofed for long enough?2020-05-02T17:21:34-07:00

Once your dough has doubled in size, it is done proofing. Alternately, you can poke the dough with your knuckle, and if the dough springs back immediately, it needs to proof for longer.

If it springs back slowly, and leaves a small indent, it’s done!

If I don’t have malt syrup or honey, what should I do?2020-05-02T17:35:01-07:00

Malt or honey is just an optional add-in to your poaching water that gives the skin of the bagels more flavor, color, and chew! Your bagels will be totally edible, but marginally less delicious without one of the two.

What can I do with the half of my starter that I’m not feeding?2020-05-02T16:58:39-07:00

There are a few options for you here:

  1. Throw it away.
  2. Save/freeze it for a later use
  3. Convert it to Sourdough Starter.
  4. Use it in a recipe.

Do whatever feels good!

Is my starter dead?2020-05-02T17:07:35-07:00

There should be visible bubbles within and on top of the starter (storing it in a clear container helps with this). When your starter is left out at room temperature, it should double in volume. If your starter doesn’t tick each of these boxes, then it likely isn’t alive anymore…RIP.

What is the windowpane test?2020-05-02T17:13:39-07:00

So glad you asked! The windowpane test measures how strong the gluten strands in your dough are. It is the test you must pass to know when you’re done kneading your dough.

Pinch off a small piece of dough, and with lightly oiled fingers, stretch the dough out (like a teeny tiny pizza) and see if it reaches a point where you can see your fingers/light through the other side. If the dough rips before reaching the desired thinness, continue kneading for another 2-3 minutes, then repeat.

What type of starter is this?2020-05-02T16:51:14-07:00

It is a poolish type starter, which is similar to a sourdough starter without the acidity and depth of a sourdough starter. You get the leavening properties of the yeast without the tangy flavor of sourdough (but if you want a sourdough starter, you can convert the one we gave you by signing up for our mailing list at mrholmeskits.com where we will be sending you the conversion recipe*)

*Emails go out once every 5 days.

How often do I need to feed my starter?2020-05-02T16:55:35-07:00

You need to feed your starter daily! It’s a living culture, so it needs consistent care and attention! Just remember, you will need to allow it to DOUBLE in volume after feeding it before placing it back stop the refrigerator. If you can’t keep up with the 24hr process, or if you don’t bake enough to keep it in the fridge, store it in the freezer! You can put it into the freezer after using/discarding half, and before you feed it.

Why is my loaf so dense?2020-05-02T17:23:00-07:00

Firstly, confirm that your starter is alive[1] . Once you do this, you can move on to troubleshooting other issues. There are a few other things that can lead to a dense end result.

  1. Your dough was under proved. It didn’t have the time for the starter to produce the gas bubbles within the dough, giving it a light and airy crumb.
  2. Your dough wasn’t kneaded for long enough. If you don’t build up enough gluten strands in the dough, it won’t be elastic enough to stretch to support the air pockets produced by the starter.
  3. If you followed our recipe with your own ingredients, instead of using the prepackaged mixes we provided, then you likely added too much flour, which bogs down the dough. Make sure to measure out your flour properly (spoon your flour into the measuring cup and level it off) and add it a little at a time. You can always add more, but you can’t take flour out of dough!
How can I test if my starter is still alive?2020-05-02T16:56:18-07:00

There should be visible bubbles within and on top of the starter (storing it in a clear container helps with this). When your starter is left out at room temperature, it should double in volume. If your starter doesn’t tick each of these boxes, then it likely isn’t alive anymore…RIP.

What should I do if my starter isn’t bubbling and growing like it did in the beginning?2020-05-02T16:57:58-07:00

Try upping your feedings to twice a day (1x every 12 hours and leave out out at room temperature). This will give the yeast a little kick start! If the starter isn’t growing as much (note: not at all) then it is just weak and underperforming.

Can I freeze my starter, and how long can I freeze it for?2020-05-02T16:59:33-07:00

You absolutely can! Just throw it into an airtight container, and before feeding it, freeze it for up to 3 months. When you want to bring it out to bake with, plan ahead because it needs to be woken up slowwwwwwly. Seriously, we don’t want you to shock the yeast awake, or else it will be of no use to you. Put it in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw fully. Once it’s completely thawed, proceed with it as if it’s been in the fridge the whole time

Why is my dough so wet?2020-05-02T17:20:18-07:00

Don’t worry! The dough should be really sticky, and it will take almost until the very end of the kneading process for it to not be so sticky. If you have a stand mixer, save yourself the work out and throw the dough in with a dough hook and leave it until you see it separating from the sides of the bowl, then give it the windowpane test[1] .

Why didn’t my dough rise?2020-05-02T17:32:11-07:00

Firstly, confirm that your starter is alive. Once you do this, you can move on to troubleshooting other issues. There are a few other things that can lead to a dense end result.

  1. Your dough was under proved. It didn’t have the time for the starter to produce the gas bubbles within the dough, giving it a light and airy crumb.
  2. Your dough wasn’t kneaded for long enough. If you don’t build up enough gluten strands in the dough, it won’t be elastic enough to stretch to support the air pockets produced by the starter.
  3. If you followed our recipe with your own ingredients, instead of using the prepackaged mixes we provided, then you likely added too much flour, which bogs down the dough. Make sure to measure out your flour properly (spoon your flour into the measuring cup and level it off) and add it a little at a time. You can always add more, but you can’t take flour out of dough!
What do I do if my starter overflows?2020-05-02T17:05:52-07:00

Your starter needs room to grow, so get it into a larger container ASAP! If your starter spilled out onto a surface, scrape up as much of the starter as you can and give it a stir to make sure that any of the exposed starter is re-hydrated. From there, go on as normal!

How long should I knead for?2020-05-02T17:20:56-07:00

This process can take anywhere between 10-20 minutes. The key is that the dough passes the windowpane test[1] and is supple and elastic.

Why is my dough so dry?2020-05-02T17:19:41-07:00

Make sure you remembered to add half of your starter to the dough! Okay…so you did.

There is clearly not enough liquid in the mix, so you’ll need to add more. Flour absorbs liquid differently based on altitude, temperature, etc, so make adjustments as needed.

If your dough doesn’t feel sticky in the very beginning, add more water and knead until it is completely combined.

Also, make sure that you don’t add too much flour to your recipe if you’re making it with your own ingredients. Spoon your flour into the measuring cups and level them off to measure properly

How do I prevent getting fingerprints all over my shaped dough?2020-05-02T17:34:31-07:00

Cut out squares of parchment that are approximately the size of your bagels. Grease them and place the shaped bagel dough on them to rest before poaching. When you’re ready to poach the bagels, just pick up the entire square and dough by two opposing corners and carefully place it in your poaching water. The water will help the paper release from the dough and voila – perfectly smooth bagels!

I added the small bag/flour and water when activating the starter… what do I do now?2020-05-02T16:53:41-07:00

What you’ve done is accidentally create a biga, which is the drier version of poolish. It still has the same rising properties as a poolish, but you’ll need to adjust the amount of liquid you add into your recipes from now on! Moving forward, you will discard HALF of the existing starter and feed the remaining starter with the same 1/2c of AP flour and 8-9T of cold water, trying to keep the same consistency.

How do I make the dough?2020-05-02T09:16:50-07:00
  1. Combine your wet ingredients (starter, water, and (optional) oil) in a large mixing bowl. Then add your large bag (dry mix: flour, salt, sugar) and stir until it forms a shaggy dough.
  2. Knead in the bowl until it comes together and you can remove it from the bowl. Lightly oil your work surface and hands to prevent sticking (this is a really sticky dough!) and knead until you pass the windowpane test[1] .
  3. Keep a bench scraper/spatula/anything with a flat edge nearby to help scrape up dough off the work surface. Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl, lightly coating the entirety of the dough with oil, then cover and proof in a warm area until it doubles in size!
I got my kit in the mail, but why is the starter dry?2020-05-02T09:15:47-07:00

We ship the starter as a dry base so it can remain shelf stable! All you need to do is activate it when you receive it!

What kind of flour should I use to recreate this recipe at home?2020-05-02T17:35:30-07:00

Bread flour is best! But AP flour also works well.

What do I feed the starter?2020-05-02T16:54:30-07:00

All you need to feed your lil’ guy is 1/2c AP or Bread (high gluten) Flour and 8-9T of cold water. Add half of the water first and stir to combine, then add 1T of water at a time until you reach the correct consistency (thick and sticky, not pourable or thin).

What kind of container can I bake my bread in?2020-05-02T17:22:06-07:00

If you’re going for sandwich style bread, then a standard loaf pan is your best bet.

You can, however, use just about anything that is oven safe – sauce pot, cake tin, casserole dish, you name it! Just know that the more shallow your dish is, the shorter your loaf will be.

What else can I make with the starter?2020-05-02T17:08:29-07:00

We release new recipes via our mailing list, which you can sign up for at mrholmeskits.com . We’ve already put out recipes for cinnamon rolls, and a conversion to turn your starter into sourdough starter! We send out these recipes (and more) to everyone who subscribes!

To signup. Go to our Homepage > scroll down the and enter your email to the “Keep me in the loop” section.

What does it mean if there is water separating from the starter?2020-05-02T16:57:00-07:00

There should be visible bubbles within and on top of the starter (storing it in a clear container helps with this). When your starter is left out at room temperature, it should double in volume. If your starter doesn’t tick each of these boxes, then it likely isn’t alive anymore…RIP.

How much starter do I use per recipe?2020-05-02T17:06:57-07:00

You need half of the starter per the bread loaf recipe! Don’t overthink it, just eyeball half of it. If you want to get technical, weigh out the full weight of your starter, then take out exactly half. See, we can all be happy!