The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kap1492's picture

Anxious Starter

Before getting to the meat and potatoes of my questions, I want to warn you that I am as green as they come when it comes to knowledge on sourdough starters. I know that these questions have been asked numerous times before but I think I will understand it better if my specific situation is used. I created my starter using the pineapple starter method on 1/26/13. Noticeable activity began on day 5 1/30/13. At this point, I decided to create two different starters: one WW and the other being a white (AP flour) starter. Beginning on day 5 I began to feed the starter at a 2 oz. of starter: 1 oz. of flour: 1oz of water for a 2:1:1 ratio daily. Both starters have risen in a predictable manner and have doubled in size within 4 hours. By the time the next feeding is due, both starters have dropped close to the pre-feeding level. Both starters have taken on a yeasty smell similar to beer and are littered throughout with several small bubbles. The AP starter has a pancake batter like consistency while the WW starter has a cream of wheat texture, neither of them are runny. These characteristics are consistent to date which is 2/2/13 which has been a total of 8 days since first mixed. At this point, I know things are progressing well but this is where all of my questions come into play.

1. At this point should I increase my feedings to every 12hrs instead of every 24hrs and for how long until I can start to use my starter?

2. Should I increase the size of the feedings as well, and if so what amount of starter, water, and flour volumes should I use?

3. When increasing the feedings frequency and quantity do you still remove a portion of the starter with each feeding or every second or third feeding?

4. For example, lets say a SD recipe calls for 4 oz. of starter or 7 oz. of starter. How much do you feed and how often before you have the right amount of starter and enough stater left over to keep your starter going?

5. On average, how much starter do you keep on had when you bake say twice a week?

6. Which AP flour is best to use, should I use a high gluten bread flour or just a general AP flour that doesn't have a high gluten content?

Sorry for so many questions, I just want to get things right the first time and not have to start over if I messed up. Thank you for your responses and patience.

Kneads_Love's picture

Feeding vs Starving -- a new starter

As previously mentioned, I used the WW:Rye:Pinapple Juice method (1:1:2) for 4 consecutive days. My starter never became bubbly but it did move through a series of smells (yeasty, yeasty w. paint thinner) all on the “pleasant” side of the spectrum. Inside my bowl, things were wet and humid with condensation forming on the plasticwrap covering. 

Last night, after a very long day 4 (we had tickets to a thing and did not get back until late), I decided to start feeding it. I reserved 2 OZ of the starter (put the rest in the fridge just in case) and added 1 oz bottled water and 1 oz AP (2:1:1). Then went to bed.

This morning, 2 large bubble wholes and some very minor bubble evidence on the bottom (I switched to a clear glass bowl so that I could see all around.) But still, no major visible activity. (I have no idea if it doubled and reduced while I slept.) The smell is a very faint yeasty-alcohol. My starter is not dead, but it’s certainly not ready to do any heavy-lifting. 

The question now is: what now? Do I feed it just a bit before I leave for 10 hours (adding a bit of flour and water to the existing - maybe a half oz of each to the 4 oz base)? Should I repeat the previous (2:1:1)? Or should I let it starve for the day? I do not want to raise the pH before its ready, but I also don’t want the hungry yeasties to die.


mjbleck's picture

Best Bread Ever, Really

Make a flour mix, 2.5% whole wheat, 10% dark rye, the remainder first clear flour. Grow a starter with said flour mix. Two days before baking bulk up starter sufficient to meet the next sentences requirements. Day before baking mix a dough using 40% starter, 90% hydration (really) and flour mix. Autolyze for an hour, add 2% salt, lazily stretch and fold for a day. Form boules, place into linen lined baskets heavily dusted with 50/50 rice flour/AP flour. Let rise for about an hour and then retard under refrigeration overnight. Heat oven to 450-500 degrees with whatever pots you are used to using for the no-knead trend. I use 1 gallon cast iron pots and 1 kg loaves. Turn dough out of baskets, slash, and bake off 30 minutes in the covered pots, and 20 minutes on a stone. Don’t eat until at least the next day, as the flavors need to develop. If you can bake a better bread than this you got me beat. 

dmsnyder's picture

Hamelman's 5-grain levain

This is certainly one of the most delicious breads I've ever tasted. It is amazing for its complex, wholesome taste. It also has always had astonishing oven spring and bloom for me. I'm not sure why.

I suppose I need to acknowledge that brother  Glenn recently posted his beautiful bake of this bread, if only to claim another instance of Snyder Bros. Synchronicity and deny competitiveness. I did watch out for pixies. They played no role in the baking of this bread. They may be responsible for how much of it my wife ate at dinner, but I do believe that was attributable to how delicious this bread is. 

And, from last week's bake of Hamelman's Pain au Levain with WW, here's a point for Varda:

Happy baking!


kap1492's picture

Sourdough Starter Containers

Was with the wife at IKEA tonight and was browsing their kitchen section and came across these glass jars that I think are perfect for starters: new or old. I know that most people have their preference (glass/plastic) or just use what they have lying around the house. The thing I really liked about these are the lids. They have a silicone gasket that keeps them snug but not too much that under pressure they will either pop off or allow enough pressure to get out. Just a light tug and they are off. 


HappyHighwayman's picture

Fridge proof vs. room temp

For the first while when I did the Tartine method bake, I would also do a fridge proof overnight in the baskets, and I got excellent results. I didn't always want to bake post-bulk fermentation, so it would also allow me to time my bakes. Recently I needed to bake sooner, so I did a room temp proof. As a result I got a lot more rise out of the bread, and it formed a nicer final loaf than the times I did a fridget proof. I didn't notice too much of a taste difference. It also rose more in the room temp state.

The book recommends baking directly from the fridge, but is it possible to get the "best of both worlds" by refrigerating the dough and THEN leaving it out for a couple of hours for a final room temp proof before baking or would that screw something up?



dabrownman's picture

Another Batch of kjknits English Muffins – 12.5 % Whole Wheat

We love these English muffins and try to make them a little bit different each time we make them.  This time we used some of the left over SD levain for the panettone.  We made them the thickness that is called for in the recipe at 3/4” for the first time.  Normally we make them thinner since the puff so much. 


This is a levain, flour and milk on the counter overnight then sugar, salt and baking soda in the morning is added, 4 minutes of kneading and then shaping, I used a plastic drinking glass, followed by a 45 minute proof and then dry fried.  Ian used an electric skillet for his earlier this week.  After not even being thought about for decades, I saw our electric skillet in the garage the other day and it seems time to put it some good use for a change.


This batch came out the best yet but will make them ½” next time.  The EM’s made a great sandwich for breakfast this morning toasted, with butter, marmalade, sausage and egg on top.  Yummy!


If you haven’t made these yet, put then on the list - they are just too good to pass up and one of the few recipes we make over and over again – like bagels.

Floydm's picture

Yesterday's Sourdough

Fed the starter dark rye flour Sunday evening.  Monday morning combined:

1000g bread flour

680g warm water

Left that as an autolyse for half an hour, then added:

20g salt

180g ripe starter

Mixed it briefly.  Stretched and folded every hour over the next three hours, then put it in the fridge.

Mid-morning Tuesday, pulled it out of the fridge and divided the dough into three loaves.  Shaped them and let them rise for about 90 minutes, then baked them at 465F covered for 15 minutes and uncovered another 30. 

 I'm pretty pleased with the result I get when I feed my starter dark rye flour then bake with bread flour.  The rye livens up the starter and adds just touch of tang, but the loaf is still quite light. 

painperdu's picture

Hello from Chicago

Hello fellow bakers,

I chose the name painperdu because I feel literally lost here in Chicago after spending most of my adult life in Paris. No need to bake over there, really, with a bakery on every corner and one of the very best right down the street, so I haven't done any serious bread baking since I was a kid, helping my mother while she made her Latvian specialties (Ohh, the sourdough black bread or the fabulous rolls she would make for holidays... Now I know she worked so hard at it because she was a lost refugee longing for a taste of home!).

Now that personal circumstances have forced me to leave my adopted home and try to adapt to this strange place, I am homesick for real French bread. I have tried some so-called baguettes available here but they just don't taste right. And they are made from conventional, not organic flour: no GMO's for me, thank you. In desperation, I decided to make my own bread. The results were dismal. When I started looking for help on line, I tried many recipes and tips but I'm still not satisfied. I realize that the flour is different here, the type of water makes a difference and it seems there are countless other variables to consider. So I was very pleased to find this forum. I can see there are many posts to read and they look very promising. Even though I feel reasonably accomplished as a cook, my baking skills are minimal so I will probably just lurk and read and keep trying for now. Thanks to all of you for being there!


breadsong's picture

Bread Fashion Show - BBD #56

Hello everyone,

January’s Bread Baking Day theme is “A Bread Fashion Show”, with a call for decorated crusts.
What a lovely idea!


A Fashion Show seemed to call for fabric – how to use fabric to decorate bread?
I was reminded me of a photo I saw once, of one of Roger Gural’s beautiful breads, stencilled with a lacy pattern.
Off to the fabric store I went.

This is Mr. Hamelman’s Unkneaded Six-Fold French Bread, using a big piece of lace to stencil, for this month’s baking challenge. I wish I could say I used fancy French lace – this was more likely drapery material :^)    



Many thanks: to Mr. Gural for the inspiration, to Mr. Hamelman for his delicious recipe, to Jenni at The Gingered Whisk for a wonderful idea for this month’s challenge, and to Zorra for her Bread Baking Day event.
I’m so looking forward to seeing what other bakers will create for this month’s ‘decorated bread’ baking theme!


*Update to this post - one more entry for the Fashion Show :^)

I was going through some photos and remembered this bread I baked a long time ago (2011).
This bread was inspired by a fashionable, floral, felted hat, made by a very talented lady I met at a bread-baking class -
I wanted to add this bread to this post!
This sourdough bread's crust was covered with decorative dough 'flowers', that had been colored with white flour, cocoa and cornmeal; the 'leaves' were colored with green pea flour. Had fun with cookie cutters, for this one :^)


Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong