The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I don't like my own bread anymore!

  • Pin It
edh's picture
edh

I don't like my own bread anymore!

Help!

Something's gone very wrong in my kitchen over the last month or so, and it's breaking my heart! I wrote in a while ago about having killed my starter and, with lots of help from you all, revived it. The results were still kind of ehh, so I started another one, a la sourdolady's method (that's how I made the first). As of a few days ago, that one was bubbling along nicely, so I made my first loaf with it yesterday/today. Bleah. Poor oven spring, and still a too-sour taste. What is going on?

I've been feeding 1:2:2, and refrigerating in between. Just read in the BBA that a larger proportion feeding will give a milder flavor, so I just threw out all but 10 grams, and gave it a 1:5:5 feeding. Am I nuts, or is this the right direction to go? When I first started this journey, I was so excited with the huge, mildly flavored but interesting loaves that kept appearing like magic, but now reality seems to be giving me a good swift kick in the pants for my hubris.

Even more galling, yeast breads have been turning out lame as well, although it just occurred to me the other day that that change probably coincides with my having switched to KA artisan flour. I know it's a little bit weaker than their all purpose, but I didn't increase folding or anything to make up for it. Guess I'll have to try that one again.

Grrr, it's so frustrating when things go to pieces suddenly. I want my big poofy loaves back!

edh

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Edh,

Just curious how long it takes with your starter for a 1:2:2 feeding to rise by double, what temperature it rises at, and what type of flour you're feeding with. Mine doesn't work so well unless it's been fed repeatedly a few times to bring it to life, which seems to be when it is rising by double in 4-5 hours at 72F. All this is with a starter that is 1:1 by weight flour:water and the flour is fairly high protein, like KA AP or KA bread flour. When I've tried to start a starter from scratch a few times recently (just experimenting), it took a day or two of repeated feedings at room temperature (after the starter had already "started up", like day 4-5) to get one that rises normally like that. I know what you mean about being used to milder breads, which I get w/my starter, and I have usually fed it 1:2:2 and let it rise by double before feeding again. It seems to me that feeding it regularly earlier, i.e. when it just doubles, rather than when it has risen and dips, helps with getting breads that are more mild.

Bill

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

life will send it our way, we need not go looking. I'm experiencing similar things in my kitchen. Are our goals too lofty? My starters are going through a sluggish phase and giving unpredictable results; too active, too little action. I'm sort of a life-long student person so the pursuit is fun for me and for you too, I hope!

edh's picture
edh

Bill,

Oh you do make me think; my brain is starting to hurt! I've been using only ww, both to create the starters and to maintain them, but now that I think of it, I've changed ww flours too, from CVM fine bread flour to Morgan's Mills regular bread flour, both organic, but the one from CVM is alot finer, and probably has a different protein content. I'll have to look into that. In the meantime, maybe I'll just feed with KA all purpose, since that's the only other thing in the house.

It's taking anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to double, at a temp of 65 - 70 F, but I've mostly been feeding once, letting it sit until it started to bubble, then put it right in the fridge. I took it out to let it warm up a bit before starting the bread, but I'm not really sure how developed it was that time. I just fed it a couple of hours ago, so maybe I'll leave it out, and feed it again in a couple more hours, even if it hasn't doubled all the way.

redivyfarm; thanks for the reminder. This is all about the doing, not so much the getting (well, a little of that too!)

edh

bwraith's picture
bwraith

edh,

I only mentioned the protein levels because starters that use very low protein flours may not rise very quickly or ever double, because the gluten can break down before they rise, even though they might be fine as far as having lots of yeast and lbs in them. I mention the hydration because wet starters also don't rise as much as thicker paste consistency starters, even though they might be fine too. However, feeding and letting the starter double at room temperature has worked well for me with white flours in a range from about 11% to 14% protein and with a consistency of a thick paste.

I've never kept a whole wheat starter, so maybe the same principles don't apply. However, I normally would expect to feed the starter, let it rise long enough at room temperature to get some high level of activity, which for me would be about 4 hours and is indicated by a doubling of my starter, after which I would either repeat the feeding cycle at room temperature, if it's not rising fast enough or stash it in the refrigerator for bread making some time in the next couple of days.

Since the starter sounds fairly vigorous if it rises in 4 hours at 65-70F, maybe it's just the nature of the WW starter that contributes the stronger sour flavor, if you've used AP fed starters in the past - just a thought.

I think it's important to feed the starter and let it ferment for a while at room temperature enough times once in a while to bring a starter to full strength, and it would probably affect the flavor of the starter and the breads you make with it, too.

Good luck getting things back to how you like them before.

Bill

edh's picture
edh

Bill,

Of course, the real problem here is that I can't keep myself from messing with more than one variable at a time... The ww starter worked just fine before, but that was a different ww flour, in a cooler winter kitchen, being used in combination with either an organic white bread flour or KA all purpose. Not being very scientific about making my changes, am I?

I've just fed the starter with KA all purpose 1:3:3. I'm going to leave it out until it doubles, then put it to bed for the night in the fridge.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...

edh

bwraith's picture
bwraith

edh,

I know just what you mean. It's hard to resist making more than one change at a time. Maybe you could change just one or two variables back to the old way. An easy one might be to go back to using the same flour as before in the bread. Maybe the starter is fine, and it's just the different artisan flour used in the bread that is causing the trouble. Since the starter sounds like it's rising and active after being fed, even if fed with different ww flour, maybe it's not what's causing the difference you are struggling with.

Bill