The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


kathunter's picture

Rye Bread Starter - Help!

January 19, 2010 - 5:44am -- kathunter


I'm trying to make my second rye starter. The first one is a big lump in the refrigerator waiting to see the bottom of the trash can.  With the second start I have going, I should be ready to start Phase 4 according to my recipe but the starter does not look like what the description in the recipe tells me it should look like.  Through the glass bowl I can see it is bubbling on the bottom but it has not doubled in size.  Should I go on to Phase 4 or wait another day?

ArieArie's picture

It has been a few months now..

January 9, 2010 - 10:21am -- ArieArie



Its now a few months since I discovered and started reading this forum. I must say I learned a lot from the very experienced members here.


However I find it hard to contribute as I am not formally trained nor did I have such resources as the Internet or popular books when I started baking bread, 35 years ago.


I do things a bit different than the common wisdom, so my not much of my experience actually apply. Not to mention that I did not have the professional terminology to describe what I'm doing (but I'm learning).

pmccool's picture

Hallelujah!  I located rye flour today at a store within reasonable driving distance!  And not just simply rye flour: I can get wholemeal rye, medium rye and crushed rye.  Thanks MiniO for one of your tips; I went to the mill's web site, looked at their list of stockists (for the Americans, the equivalent would be retailers), and finally made it to the store today.  For anyone else in the Pretoria (Tshwane) area, it is the SuperSpar store at the Silver Lakes shopping center, just off Hans Strijdom Drive.

I decided to slowly work my way back into baking with rye and limited myself to a bag of medium rye (which I had already wheedled from the baker before rounding the corner of the aisle containing flours - oh me of little faith).

Since I had pulled my starter out of cold storage last evening and given it a feeding, I nipped off a tablespoon or so, stirred in some water and enough rye to make a thick paste.  It's sitting on the counter now.  With any luck, the party for the lacto-, aceto- and yeast-beasties should be revving up.

I noticed that the gluten in the starter was almost completely destroyed, so I took a taste and was surprised by the intense acidity.  I think my starter may be longer on bacteria than on yeast, so I'll try running it closer to 100% hydration for a while (it's normally kept at 50%) to see if that favors yeast development and gets things into a better balance between leavening and flavor critters.

Color me happy!


Peggy Bjarno's picture

Help needed for "puffy" newbie to bread baking, who wants to be able to enjoy eating my bread

January 8, 2010 - 9:23pm -- Peggy Bjarno

I think the one thing that has driven me to trying to bake my own bread is calories. Look at it this way: bread is on the "caution" list at the very least, or maybe even the "forbidden" list, calorie-wise. (OH-MY-GOD it's CARBS! It's CALORIES!) But I do love bread, have enjoyed my buttered toast in the morning (a long lost dream) and my mayonnaise-filled tuna or chicken salad sandwiches, or BLTs. . . . it's been a while.

rrossi's picture

As the elderly grandfather in Moonstruck exclaimed "I'm so confused" pretty much sums up how I feel right now about sourdough starters and levain....

The heart of the question is, what really is levain?   I have read many comments through-out this site that claim starter and levain is the same thing. 

If that is the case, then can someone explain a recipe that calls for levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F) 100 gms or 20%????? 

Assuming "S" stands for starter (therby starter and levain are different) W = water and F = flour... the weight for each would be 12.5 gms of S, 37.5 gms of W, and 50 gms of flour.  What do I do next if my assumption is correct? Do I mix the levain and let it ferment? if so fo how long?  or do I mix it straight into the dough upon mixing?  I don't know the answer to this and I'm having a hard time finding the answer.

I love this site, lots of great info and really skilled bakers.  I hope someone can clear this up for me.


Richard R



Kroha's picture

what kind of starter to have if only to have one kind?

January 3, 2010 - 10:39pm -- Kroha

Hello TFLers,

As I look through the books I have and mark the breads I would like to make, I notice a variety of starters in the formulas -- firm, liquid, various hydration levels...  I do not want to maintain more than one starter.   I know that I will use organic rye flour and fresh pineapple juice to start one, but beyond that, what would be the most useful and versatile starter that can potentially be converted to other types?  Any advice, as well as references to resources would be great appreciated.

Best wishes,


flournwater's picture

Bread Dough Formula Math Dilemma (Some Help, I Hope)

December 29, 2009 - 12:57pm -- flournwater

From time to time I read posts with questions like this:

"I want to use 435 grams of starter at 70% hydration in a bread dough formula that calls for 500 grams of flour at 60% hydration.  How do I figure out how much flour and water I need to add in order to meet that requirement?"

Here's a primer that should alleviate the headache you might normally experience trying to figure it out.


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