The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bastet469's picture

12:00 AM March 9, 2013 (72 hrs)


Lots of small bubbles on the surface only. Sorry; too hard to photograph. :(


Flattened to sides of container but no difference in volume. Based on the time passed, the directions say I should refresh now. But it hasn't puffed up the way Sweetbird's did . Line of dough on container is the true measurement. I've decided to give this another 24 hours and see what happens. Ugh...

bastet469's picture

12:30 AM March 10, 2013 (96.5 hrs)


Same surface bubbles as yesterday....


I have NO IDEA if this one is going to work. I've given this one 72 hours rather than 48 in hopes that it would puff up the way Sweetbird's did but so far it looks like a pancake that was left out to rot!!

It's moist on top instead of having the dried crust Sweetbird mentions. The smell is mildly cumin-y like it was on Day 3 & 4. One thing is similar to Sweetbird's findings is the discoloration of the top layer. Below you can hopefully see that the underside of the starter is the same color as it was originally while the top turned greyish. The only reason I'm continuing is because of the bubbles I saw on the underside. I hope that means bacteria growth. :S

First refreshment (48-72 hrs.):

6.25 oz/117 g organic whole wheat flour (3/4 C.)

2.75oz/72 gms warm water (1/3 C.)

1 oz/28.5 gms chef (2 Tbs.)

Combine ingredients. Turn out onto work sureface and knead briefly. Cover and set aside for 10-12 hours.

 I removed the discolored portion of the chef and measured from what was left. Also, as I mentioned, I gave mine an extra day before doing the refreshment so we'll see what happens.

bastet469's picture

2:45 AM March 8, 2013 (50.75 hrs)

Back trouble caused me to turn in early and miss 12 AM deadline. But change seems minimal in both ferments. To make it easier on myself, I'll be referring to the cultures by the color of the container lids: Red for Reinhart, Blue for Ortiz.


Looks exactly the same as yesterday: no bubbles, no change in size.

Reinhart's book says that's to be expected. Proceeded with Phase 2 as directed.

Seed Culture, Phase 2

3 1/2 tablespoons (1 0z/28.5 g) whole-wheat flour, whole rye flour or unbleached bread flour

2 tablespoons (1 0z/28.5 g) unsweetened pineapple juice, filtered water or spring water

All of the Phase 1 seed culture (3 0z/85 g).

Add the new ingredients to the Phase 1 seed culture and stir with a spoon or whisk to distribute and fully hydrate the new flour. (The liquid can be cold or at room temperature; it doesn't matter.) Again, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, stirring with a wet spoon or whisk to aerate two or three times each day. There should be signs of fermentation (bubbling and growth) during this period. When the culture becomes very bubbly or foamy, continue to Phase 3. This phase could take anywhere from 1 to 4 days. As long as you aerate the seed culture regularly, it will not spoil or develop mold.

Added ingredients directly to container and whisked. Didn't bother to measure out the 3 oz of Phase 1. Cleaned off the sides of th container and drew a new fill line.
Line's based on actual level. Some excess gets on the sides when you move conatiner around.

A few bubbles began forming duing the time it took me to clean up the counter top! Poked a hole in the lid with a skewer (from inside-out) just in case of gas buildup.


Ball has spread more. Color & condensation remains the same. Cumin smell isn't as strong as it was on Day 1. Based on 48 hr photo of Ortiz's starter in Sweetbird's Blog entry on Pain de Campagne, I've decided to give it another day before feeding it.

bastet469's picture

12:00 AM March 7, 2013 (24 hrs)

Reinhart Stater

I noticed a thin layer of clear amber colored liquid develops on top of the mixture between stirs. It was too thin to photograph. Other than that, there was no chnage.

Ortiz Starter

Condensation has appeared on the sides of the container. The shape has flattened somewhat.


The surface has darkened slightly. Sorry that you can't really tell from the picture. Turn over the container and you'll see the difference in color.

bastet469's picture

Welcome to my Lab of sorts.  For the next week or so, I will be documenting my progress on two different ferments I started at 12AM EST on March 6th, 2013.  The first is from Peter Reinhart's book Artisan Bread Every Day.  The other is from Joe Ortiz's The Village Baker. The reason I chose to do two different recipes at the same time was partly to see which process suits me best and partly to help insure that I'll have at least one to bake with at the end if one fails.  In addition, since they both use a unique ingredient (Reinhart's pineapple juice & Ortiz's cumin) I'm curious to see what the effects will be on each.  Below are the recipes I used and pictures of the finished products. Reinhart’s is in the red topped container, Ortz’s is in the blue one.


What a difference right?

Peter Reinhart's Recipe

Seed Culture, Phase 1: Day 1

3 1/2 tablespoons (1 ounce) whole-wheat flour, whole rye flour or unbleached bread flour

1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened pineapple juice, filtered water or spring water.

In a small non-reactive bowl or a 2-cup glass measuring cup, stir the flour and juice with a spoon or whisk to make a paste or sponge with the consistency of thin pancake batter. Make sure all of the flour is hydrated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 48 hours. Two to three times each day, stir the seed culture for about 10 seconds with a wet spoon or whisk to aerate it. There will be few or no bubbles (indicating fermentation activity) during the first 24 hours, but bubbles may begin to appear within 48 hours.


Very Soupy. Not much to it. Drew a line on the container to keep track

Joe Ortiz's Recipe

Chef: Day 1

 ½ Cup (78g) organic whole wheat flour

⅛ tsp. cumin

¼ Cup (46g) spring water

½ tsp. organic milk

Combine flour and cumin in a non-reactive bowl.  Stir in water and milk until a small ball is formed.  Turn out onto clean work surface and knead briefly.  Place in a non-reactive container and cover for 2-3 days until doubled.



12:00 AM March 7, 2013

Ortiz's starter has darkenend on the surface and flattened somewhat. Reinhart's--no change

Udoughgirl's picture

Has anyone made Levain starter from The Village Baker?

February 24, 2009 - 11:33am -- Udoughgirl

The sourdough starter I'm trying to make (from The Village Baker) is quite a firm little ball and has such a thick crust on it that I don't see how it can possibly grow or form bubbles. It's day 3, and it should be showing signs of life.  The recipe said to cover it with a damp cloth, but nothing about keeping it damp, so I let it dry out. Mistake?   I could play with any of these factors at this point - an airtight lid instead of cloth, warmer or cooler temp, higher hydration of dough. I'd like to know how others have managed with this recipe. 

Thanks, Doh!

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