The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kwonders's picture

Fresh Starter - Peaks so quickly

My question is simple...

Is it common/normal for a starter to peak (double) and then begin to collapse in less than 4 hours. 

It is my understanding that your supposed to knock down and refresh (feed) your starter at it's peak going from strength to strength. I am not home enough to feed every 3.5 hours. 

My starter:

  • Used the "Pineapple Juice Solution part 2" method to create - followed it exactly

  • Refreshed twice daily, before and after work at twelve hour intervals
  • Started to see good rise after 3 days
  • Each day I would find my started had begun to fall prior to me getting to it 

On 5th day began the following feeding twice daily at 12 hour intervals:

  • 100 grams of starter
  • 100 grams of flour (Rye, I want to make Rye bread with my starter)
  • 125 grams of water - room temp.

I am on day 8 now, I started to really watch what was really going on two days ago. The starter will rise to peak in about 3 hours and then begin to collapse

So last evening I fed it at that point, 3.5 hours after the last feeding and it did it again. Just under 4 hours and it started to collapse.

This morning I had the idea to feed it more food hoping that it would allow the rise to take longer. I cut the amount of starter at refreshment to 50 grams and fed it the same amount of flour and water as mentioned above.

Any words of wisdom?

dabrownman's picture

3 Christmas Fruit Cakes - One For Everyone

We made 3 different kinds of fruit cakes today hoping to appeal to everyone -young or old – traditional or modern. They all basically shared the same basic ingredients.  By varying the amounts and which ones went into the mix the cake changed drastically.


Something is really snockered

For the kids and those of all ages who hate fruitcake, one has AP flour, melted chocolate, a little more butter and dark  brown sugar to go with a bit of cocoa powder, chocolate chips, a bit of baking powder,  less candied, dried and snockered fruits & peels and a hlf cup of rough chopped pecan and walnut mix.



One is a little more traditional in that it has more snockered fruits and peels, some molasses, is made with half again as much flour and the flour is white whole wheat instead of AP, a little more chocolate chips, no cocoa powder and we put in some SD starter.  We let this one proof on the counter for 6 hours on a heating pad before baking.  This might be similar to how American’s made their Christmas fruit cakes during the gold rush days around 1850.


Chocolate crumb

The third version is what copyu would call English Christmas Cake based on the recipe found here:



This version has nearly twice the fruits as the 2nd one, no nuts except those making it, the same amount of flour as the chocolate version only half of it was white whole wheat, no molasses, half the spice of the other two and no leavening whatsoever.   This would be considered old school in my book.  We also baked this in a round as the English have a penchant for round Christmas cakes and the other two were baked in cocktail tins. 



The three things they all had it common, (and there are more like 1 egg each), was the same fruit mix, even if in various amounts, but we did put in more than twice the amount of alcohol to steep them in for 24 hours than what copyu recommends - to be more in line with how a Southern German Gal like Lucy would make.  The 2nd thing they had it common was baking them at 300 F.  The Chocolate took 70 minutes the Gold Rush one took 90 minutes and the English version took 120 minutes to get to 205 F on the inside.


Gold Rush

The spices included equal amounts of: cardamom, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves –our new 7 spice mix.  The snockered fruits included: candied: pineapple, green and red cherries, citron, lemon and orange peel.  The dried fruits included: cherries, apricots, cranberries, prunes and raisins.  The fruit amount for the Chocolate was 180 g, the Gold Rush was 250 g and the English had 380 g of snockered fruits.

Gold Rush Sourdough crumb.

The snockering was doe with bourbon, dark rum, arancello, limocello, brandy and amaretto - the fumes were quite intoxicating in more ways than one!  The house smelled like Christmas baking was underway due to the spices.  We also zested a lemon and an orange and added the juice of an orange to the snockering liquid.


Gold rush before baking - Chocolate left and English right

Hopefully we will get to taste at least the chocolate version of these beauties soon,  One, probably the English version,  will be pampered well soaked in a hooch laden cotton cloth for 10 weeks in a tin and stored outdoors so that it can ripen properly. We will also prick it with a toothpick and give it extra moisture with a rum and brandy mix.


Mini Oven's Walnut Rye Bread wins 'Lucy's 2013 BBB Award' for best bread baked - this year.  Here it is used for a  Rembrandt Aged Gouda, brie and coto salami grilled cheese sandwich with a great salad from the pot garden and our favorite winter soup - Butternut Squash, Carrot, Corn, Smoked Sausage & Wild Rice- served with steamed veg, refried beans, black grapes, BBQ kettle chips, avocado and tomato.

Chocolate left and Gold Rush right -   both are yummy!

Since I busted both Chocolate and Gold Rush tin versions Lucy decided to cut off the craggy cracked portions of each which allowed us to taste both of them.  The chocolate version is tremendous - the kids of all ages will love it .  The Gold Rush is more complex in flavor and you can really taste the fruits that aren't being masked by the chocolate - it could really use some aging wrapped in a rum and brandy cloth.   Now,  instead of giving each separate loaf away to two lucky friends, we can mix a chocolate and Gold Rush together so each person will get to taste both - instead of just one.  You forget how fine a fruitcake can taste when well made at home.  Sure beats Great Grandma Ester's fruit cake - or at least how I remember it 50 years later!

Red bouganvillia growing in the orange tree looks like Christmas in AZ.!

Thanks to copyu for the post, spreadsheet and inspiration for the English version that led to the other two fine taasting fruit cakes.


Gold Rush Sourdough Christmas Fruit Cake





Build 1



Multigrain SD Starter








Multigrain SD Levain




Whole Multi-grain Flour Mix
















Levain % of Total








Dough Flour




White Whole Wheat




Dough Flour












Water in SD Starter




Dough Hydration








Total Flour








T. Dough Hydration




Hydration w/ Adds








Total Weight








Add - Ins








Egg (1)




Snockered Fruits




Chopped Pecans & Walnuts




Chocolate Chips




Brown Sugar












1/2 tsp of 7 spice - Gold Rush& Chocolate



1/4 tsp of 7 spice for English version




Chocolate has 1/4 tsp of baking powder Engkish has no SD or BP Chocolate has no SD Starter




Chocolate has 10 g of cocoa powder




70 g AP dough flour for Chocolate




70 g total - AP and WWW for English




160 g of  liquors were used as soaker with the oarnge juice nd zests

63 g of butter for English




180 g of snockered fruit for Chocolate & 380 g for English


70 g of chocolate chips total for Chocolate version  and 0 for English

65 g Brown sugar for Chocolate version




babybirdbreads's picture

whatcha' think of this oven?

I'm seeking opinions on the gas, smaller oven.

there is a used one for sale in my area.

we are starting a  small-scale commercial artisan bread bakery with possibility of also selling some  pastry type things as well.

from what i THINK i know, this would not be an ideal artisan bread oven....

prove me wrong or tell me why i would want it.  or wouldn't. 


lgudema's picture

Tartine whole wheat crumb bakes moist

I know this has been a topic before, but the answer of "bake longer" isn't working for me.

I'm making a Tartine whole wheat loaf that's about 75% hydration. I start the baking at 500 in a dutch over and turn it down to 450, taking the lid off after 20 minutes. Whether I bake it for 45 minutes or an hour, the crumb is still damp/moist. Otherwise it looks pretty good to me, and it tastes good (mild sourness after proofing overnight in the refrigerator; there's very little sourness if I proof for 2-3 hours in a warm spot and then bake). I can't imagine reducing the hydration much below that, I think the dough would be difficult to handle.

You can see on this recent attempt that the top of the crust is starting to burn after an hour, so I don't want to bake it any longer than that. I haven't taken the temperature of the crumb, I don't find the quick read thermometer very reliable/accurate, but after an hour at 450+, how could it not be at least 200-205?

Any ideas? Thanks!



klarence's picture

corning ware casserole dishes

Do you preheat casserole dishes such as you would with a dutch oven.  Maybe kind of dumb question.....but just not sure


jafwiz's picture

Ready to try first loaf

Ok i have 2 starters that seam active one rye and one with bread flour. The rye shows bubbles on the bottom and the bread flour starter shows a lot of bubbles at the top i guess the rye one is heavier. They have been going about 2 weeks should be ready i think although they don't smell sour? My question is what do do from here? I have always made bread by adding yeast and i guess with sourdough the starter is the yeast? What would you suggest for my first try? 

nora sass's picture
nora sass

Burnt Italian Bread

I made an attempt  to make an Italian bread  recipe from TFL courtesy fm Floyd. Oh Boy... the dough is not easy to work with, wet n sticky. The more I knead, the stickier it gets, the results as the pic. Somehow , I managed to burnt the crust , had it at 220deg for 20min, 180 turned for another 20min. As stated, I brushed it with water before putting it in the oven, otherwise its an awesome loaf minus the shape :)


aptk's picture

Artisan Unleavened Flat Bread - 100% Corn Flour

2 cups Maseca Instant corn flour

1 teaspoon salt

Mix together

2 cups hot water

Pour water over flour, let it sit until it's cool enough to knead. You will think it's going to be a goopy mess and that you must have used too much water, but keep at it, it will come together into a big soft ball about the consistency of Play-doh.

Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap for 20-30 minutes. Shape into 8-10 equal sized balls. Press each ball into a flat circle between sheets of plastic wrap, (I use a gallon sized zip lock bag cut open). You can use a tortilla press, or a flat bottomed plate or pan. They need to be about as thick as a coin. Cook on a hot grill, about a minute on each side. Grill should be about 375.

And now you have home made corn tortillas.


Timbo's picture

New Starter smells

Like old beer. Well I'm not really sure if it smells like alcohol or sour since I'm not really sure how its supposed to smell. I have been feeding it once a day for about 6 days. It has doubled and even tripled but I read that if you keep doing it you will develop a more sour starter. I have also heard that it smelling like alcohol is very bad. Please tell me I can fix it.


Any suggestion on what to do would be greatly appreciated. I really don't enjoy being a newbie but I do like making bread and I was hoping to make my first Sourdough this weekend.

pjgoyea's picture

sweet sourdough starter??


Has anyone heard of the Herman cake? It calls for a sweet sourdough starter. The directions for the starter calls for a lot more sugar than I used in making my starter. My question is can I just use regular sourdough starter to make the Herman? and if not can I use a cup of my starter to make a sweeter starter to use for the Herman. Thanks for any help.