The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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pambakesbread's picture

Sour Rye dough problems

I have been making Rye Breads for about 6 months now and have occasionally run into a problem with the dough when I use a sour starter and commercial yeast.

What I think happens is when I let the first ferment go too long it creates a somewhat slimy dough that kills the commercial yeast. It is really weird. It does not happen all the time but sometimes when I have let the first dough sit too long it rises all right but it's texture is strange and it is on the forever clock to get to a proofed dough. I have been using the starter for 2 years and it was recently refreshed with organic grapes and it smells great and produces bubbles. Here is the dough I made today and the process I followed if any one has any ideas why 12 hours after I shaped the loaves they have only risen about 30% I would love a theory.

2 cups of 100% Rye Sour

6 oz of Dark Rye

1/2 cup bottled water

I let this rise overnight on the counter. It rose up in the bowl about how I expected it to do. I could not bake so I added 1lb of Pendleton Mills Power Flour and let it rise again overnight. It rose up like a bandit and doubled in bulk.

I added  1 cup water with 1 Tab Barley Malt Syrup at105 and

1 Tab. +1 tesp SAF instant yeast and proofed it ( it was alive and kicking)

I blended that into the Sponge and added 20 Oz of Power Flour

1 OZ salt

1 tsp Flour Salt

1 Tesp of Rye Flavor (KA)

2 oz of Safflower oil

3 Tab Caraway

2 oz organic molasses

mixed it all up, let rest 30 min then kneaded it on #1 on my Hobart for 10 min. Well I knew there was big trouble in that bowl when it would not come together and formed 3 independent clumps of dough in the bottom of the bowl...What the #*&!! is that? So I let it rest about 45 min and hit again for another 10 min and it finally came together..begrudgingly. So I let it rise and after 3 hours!! it had about a 20 or 30% rise. I took it out and shaped it. Now they have been sitting on my counter covered in plastic for 12 hours (it is about 65 degrees in my kitchen)  and have risen about 1/3. They look fine and I have been hoovering and poking them to see if they are proofing, they are slowly --slowly getting bigger. I am going to let them go all night and check them early in the morning to see what is happening with them but this is weird.

If any dough Doctors are out there and can give me clue what is happening. It is definitely a chemical change in the dough because it does not feel like a regular dough. It is very dense and when you pull on it it pulls out in a long piece and feels lax. I do not get it?? There is plenty of gluten in that Power Flour to lift that dough it is about 14% according to the Mill. My commercial yeast is fresh, and the Sour is in good shape. So aside from Aliens zapping it what is happening? Thanks Pam



chris319's picture

Teflon Sheet

Here is a source for sheet Teflon:

Excellent prices and best of all, they cut to size. I am going to make a 1/2" Teflon baking sheet as a thermal insulator so my loaves and biscuits don't burn on the bottom, and they certainly won't stick!

quinoanut's picture

first attempt at sourdough which is also GF

Hi all!

I am new to the site and can't wait to explore it more, it looks like I could spend a lot of time here ;-)

I have been baking GF bread for some time now. I usually use teff or sorghum.

So this is my first attempt at sourdough and am reading through some post and wonder if I am in way over my head. I don't even know what "hydration" is and don't recall it being mentioned in the two recipes I looked at for GF sourdough.

Today is day 6. I just started w/ 1 cup of ivory teff and 1 cup distilled water, covered the jar with a clean towel. I started feeding with 1/2 cup each teff and 1/2 cup water every 12 hours but a day and half ago went to every 24hrs since my house is ~65 degrees and although I was smelling something, and seeing some bubbling I was not seeing a lot of activity. After making that switch I think I was seeing more of the "hooch", black liquid at the top but still not expanding in size a lot. I also ran out of teff around the same time and switched to sorghum. Tonight I come home and it looks different. There is definitely something growing in there but it smells different, less appealing and looks different. There is no black liquid, it is foamy in places and has irregular pattern of tan and gray on top.

I am just wondering if anyone wants to throw their two cents in to whether or not I should keep going, and suggestions as to changes I could make to the regimen. I thought about putting my my bedroom since it's warmer at night when I am home with the heater, but thought the variability in temp may not be the best for it.

I am also wondering, I have over a pound of flour into it, and the way I understand it have at least another 4-8 days before I can use it for bread. My jar is only so big. What would be a good method for using some up to reduce the size and avoid waste?

any suggestions would be appreciated.




Skibum's picture

Yeast water boule, Forkish style again

Well I got a successful yeast water culture going and it is bubbling and fizzing like a can of Vernor's ginger ale! A big shout out to dabrownman for pmi'ng me detailed instructions, followed to the tee. I baked this exactly as the last sd boule only using YW to build the levain. The dough felt immediately different -- more extensible and felt nearly fully developed after the second set of S&F's. Nice volume, nice open crumb and very mild flavour and great chew - almost too mild, so I guess I have come to appreciate the flavour profile of my sweet levain!

I think this is some of the nicest looking crumb I have baked. Anyhow here is my new tool in the kitchen, a nice healthy fizzing yeast water!

Thanks again dab!  You are DMAN!!!

Happy baking folks! Brian



EvaB's picture

New Look and lost posts????

To Floyd specifically but anyone who can give a shout out and maybe an answer.

I was off the forum for quite some time, We had a blessed event in April as my daughter gave birth to twin girls, and while I was busy being chauffeur and helping with babies and moving house (they bought a house a few weeks after the babies were born) obviously the site was rejuvenated, but the notices of new posts continued to be sent to me until the beginning of April, I think somewhere around the 15th, so I have had no new notifications since, including no notice of the move to the new site etc.

Can someone help me with this, I do like to keep up with the forum, and have missed a lot I know, but hope to be more regular now that the situation has settled a bit!

Foster Glen's picture
Foster Glen

Consistency help??

I am a middle school teacher and I have been baking with my students for the last 2 months. We bake on average about 16 loaves twice a week for a total of 32 loaves a week. We are using a modified version of the "Artisan Bread" in 5 minutes recipe (we use a much higher hydration (78%) to get a nicer crumb). The issue is this, the first two bakes (we can do 4 at a time in combo-cookers) are good with a nice oven spring. After that things start to get flatter and flatter. The last two bakes are definitely substandard. Each of the loaves gets the same amount of fermentation, bench rest, and time in the bannetons. I am perplexed why this might be the case. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Do indigenous microorganisms prevail?

I keep reading on the Internet that a starter will change character according to locale. For example, the culture that you created in San Francisco may start out full of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, but if you move it to the east coast, the starter will gradually become overrun with L. barharbor or the like and lose its SF flavor.

But why should this happen? Look at me—I'm not indigenous to New Jersey, and as an Asian I am definitely in the minority, yet I'm still here. Thriving, in fact, probably because I'm just as healthy as anyone and we're not competing over a scarce food supply.

Seems to me that as long as the starter is well fed, the various microorganisms ought to be able to hold their own. But that's just a theory. In actual practice, do imported starters become domestic?


fmlyhntr's picture

25 year old Kitchenaid mixer--grain mill attachment

My Kitchenaid mixer is so old I can only find the manual for it at kitchenaid, not any parts. But I am debating getting the grain mill, but I don't know if it will work on my mixer. Does anyone here know? (Model KSM 5BBU, it's about 25 or so years old).

Thank you,


Suza's picture

Bosch Universal vs Ankarsrum

I'm looking for a quality mixer, mostly for bread, but would like to be able to use it for all my baking.  I currently have an older KA  (K5SS), one made by Hobart, but it isn't much use for making bread, especially whole wheat, with only 300 watts of power, and then only one or two loaves at a time.  I also don't like the overhead motor which makes it hard to add ingredients or check mixing progress.

I'm considering either the Bosch Universal or the Ankarsrum.  I hear comments about them not being good for small batches and/or for cookies, etc.  I will often make several loaves of bread at a time, but will sometimes make one or two specialty loaves (ie: Rye, sweet bread, etc).  I also do a lot of other baking, especially during the holidays. 

Before I spend $400-700, I'm trying to do as much research as I can.  I'd appreciate all suggestions, input and experiences from you all, pros and cons, etc.  Thanks.


Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Potato water

The first place I ever read about starter was not in a cookbook or other non-fiction text, but in a historical novel:

…Amanda Whipple was up at five, teaching Mun Ki how to cook American style, and she was impressed both with his clever mind and his fearful stubbornness. For example, on each Friday during the past four decades it had been Amanda’s ritual to make the family yeast, and for the first two Fridays, Mun Ki studied to see how she performed this basic function in American cookery. He watched her grate the potato into a stone jar of almost sacred age and add a little salt and a lot of sugar, after which she poured in boiling water, allowing all to cool. Then, ceremoniously, she ladled in two tablespoonfuls of active yeast made the Friday before, and the strain continued. For forty-three years Amanda had kept one family of yeast alive, and to it she attributed her success as a cook. She was therefore appalled on Mun Ki’s third Friday to enter the cookhouse full of ritualistic fervor, only to find the stone jar already filled with next week’s yeast.

With tears in her eyes, she started to storm at Mun Ki, and he patiently listened for some minutes, then got mad. Flashing his pigtail about the kitchen he shouted that any fool could learn to make yeast in one week. He had been courteous and had studied for two weeks and now he wanted her out of the kitchen. Not understanding a word he was saying, she continued to mourn for the lost yeast, so he firmly grabbed her shoulders and ejected her onto the lawn. On Monday the new batch of yeast was as good as ever and she consoled herself philosophically: “It’s the same strain, sent forward by different hands.” Suddenly, she felt the elderly white-haired woman she was.

—James Michener, Hawaii

Note that she did not use flour to maintain the yeast. I suppose she wanted to reserve her supply of flour for actual bread, instead of discarding it as unused starter. If I'm interpreting correctly, it took three days to get from potato water to a dough that was ready to be baked. Saturday was for building a flour-based starter, then the dough had a long, slow rise—being a missionary, she wouldn't have worked on Sunday—and baked on Monday.  Janet