The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


kolobezka's picture

Milk or other liquid for preparing sourdough starter overnight

March 27, 2013 - 4:20am -- kolobezka

Would it be possible to make a sourdough starter ("biga") for bread or something sweet with milk instead of water? Wouldn't milk (pasteurised or ultra-heated) go bad overnight? And how about bear, grain coffee, whey etc.?

Any ideas or experience?

Thanks, zdenka

JimmySting's picture

Determining Starter Strength

March 21, 2013 - 4:41am -- JimmySting

Hi all,

I've been feeding my new starter for about a week and a half now (1:2:2, whole wheat flour, every 12 hours). Unfortunately I am either asleep or at work when the starter would be peaking and most active. So when I get home from a long day at work or when I wake up it is hard to tell if much happened. (I do see bubbles and some rise, but this is not totally helpful after 12 hours)

townesman's picture

Levain not rising as it should

March 17, 2013 - 5:06pm -- townesman

So, I'm still trying to figure out sourdough/levain breads. I've had/maintained an active (125% hydration) culture for some time now (several months?), but I don't have the time to use it very often so I keep it in the fridge most of the time.

When I am going to use it, I generally take it out at least a couple of days ahead of time and feed it every twelve hours. It shows all the signs of being ripe and ready to use (lots of bubbles bursting at the surface, acidic smell, etc.).

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.


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