The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking my first sourdough with a weak starter!!!

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SonyaBakes's picture
SonyaBakes

Baking my first sourdough with a weak starter!!!

I just started a sourdough starter last week. At first it smelled like rotten cheese, then went to vinegar, and now it smells like fruity wine. I just kept on feeding it twice a day. I made the most basic sourdough starter using just whole wheat and water. I didn't want to buy pineapple juice and decided that flour and water was a good way to first try it out. Now my starter gets bubbles, but nowhere near doubles in size like I read about. I use equal amounts of water and flour to feed it. It seems to rise some, but then falls. so I know that it has a little rising power.  I would like to bake a basic white loaf just to try it out for flavor. Should I use some instant yeast along with the starter the first time, or just make the bread with the starter and just expect a longer than usual rise. It smells so good, that I don't want to wait and risk it changing into something else. i like the way it smells now. I am scared it will change again. Also, if anyone has a recipe for a basic bread using the equal amounts of flour and water starter, I would love to try it! Thanks!

Ford's picture
Ford

You say you use "equal amounts of flour and water."  Equal by weight or by volume?  If it is by volume, then the hydration is about 190% and you cannot expect the starter to double in volume. Most bakers keep their starter at 100% hydration (equal weights) or higher.  I suggest you make yours 100% hydration.

When the starter smelled like rotten cheese it was due to a strain of bacteria called leuconostoc.  It destroyed itself as it made the starter acidic.  Now that the starter is acidic you should not fear any more changes,as long as you feed it regularly.  The pineapple juice would have prevented this stage of development.

Go ahead and use your starter, knowing that it will improve in flavor as it matures.  Do not add any other yeast.  Expect a longer rise time.

As for a recipe, check out the recipes on this site.

Ford

Ford's picture
Ford

If you cannot find a recipe you like, I'll send you one in a private message.

Ford

SonyaBakes's picture
SonyaBakes

 if you don't mind me asking, how do I fix the hydration?  I just used equal parts starter, water, and flour all measured in the same measuring cup. Now that I know that I messed up, how do I salvage it so that I can use it in a recipe, since most recipes require 100% hydration. Still very new to baking!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Now that you have confirmed Ford's guess about using equal volumes instead of using equal weights, there are a couple of ways forward.  The best would be to obtain an inexpensive kitchen scale and measure all of your ingredients by weight.  If that isn't practical, just stir enough flour into the starter to bring the consistency to match that of a thick batter or a very soft dough.  That will give the starter enough structure (and enough food) to easily double or more in volume.

My method for measuring flour results in a cupful weighing consistently between 125g and 130g.  Your way of measuring may result in a cupful that weighs something more than that, or something less.  So, if either of us were to tell the other to use 3 cups of flour for a particular bread, one of us might think that the dough is too dry or too wet while the other thinks it is just right.  Even though we used the same measuring tool, we each put different quantities (weights) of flour into the dough.  However, if either of us tells the other to use 400g of flour, we will both wind up with doughs that are very similar in consistency.

Hope this helps.

Paul