The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Beloz's picture

First SD loaf - moderate fail

So I finally baked with my first starter on the weekend. I was very excited!

I was going to make this loaf: But I made the recommended levain the night before and it didn't even have one bubble in it by the next morning. So I went to plan b and made this one instead:, but followed the kneading and shaping instructions for the first recipe. (Apart from missing the reference to kneading on speed 2-3, so it took a long time in the Kenwood Chef)

The result was not a complete failure, but after 6 hours proofing it still hadn't risen enough. I baked anyway, hoping for a miracle. It came out looking more like a cake than bread, but the crumb isn't too bad and the taste is pleasant. Would've taken photos but it was a late night and I'm not a morning person either.

Now for my questions to the hive!

1. I just read another thread about starter ratio. And only just notice that that second recipe uses  50%+ starter! (If you are supposed to compare it to water/flour in the recipe, that is). So might that be why my proof took so long? I was going to try this same recipe again tonight, put it in the fridge overnight and then let it proof for 8 hours tomorrow, but now I'm not sure if it's worth it?

2. When I checked the levain for the recipe I originally wanted to make after 24 hours, it did have plenty of bubbles in it. It was too late to use it, so I put it in the fridge. Can I still use that? Or will the yeast have been starved by now?

3. If either of the above recipes are not feasible to start on tonight (I want to bake tomorrow night!), can you recommend any other sandwich bread recipes that you've tried? I'm trying to please an 8yo who has gotten used to super-soft white bread and hasn't liked any of my home-made bread so far. I want to make it SD because it's healthier and I love the idea of it.

Thanks in advance!

ichadwick's picture

Best app or program for keeping a baking journal/diary?

Any recommendations for keeping a journal or diary for baking? I have both Windows PC and iPad.

I thought of creating a Wordpress site, bit that seems a bit over-the-top for something potentially modest. I want to keep track of recipes I try, changes, experiments, added ingredients, etc.

Suggestions welcome.


talalzahid's picture

help in identify the problem with my bagels.

Hi there, 

I followed peter reinhart recipe for bagels.  i had 12 bagels 3 which i baked without retardation which turned good. but then when i retarded the rest for the next day for some reason the dough was overproofed ( even with cold temperture in the fridge) and i hardly could pick them up out of the try and drop them in the water and they were super flat. 

I have a feeling that my tray cover is the problem or maybe the dough temp was more than 80 ? 

attached couple of pictures. 


thanks in advance


philyphil's picture

Some greenish looking starter

Hello! I'm new to bread baking and I've started my first starter about two days ago. This morning I checked on my starter and it has a greenish little puddles on top of it. Is this ok? I've read that this is just alcohol and as long as it smells tangy and is not pink it's ok.


clazar123's picture

Anyone having site format issues?

For at least a week I have been having issues with the site. Every page loads in a column and the home page pictures have one layer on top of the other. As the page loads it flickers as it is trying to fit. Is this on my end or is there a site issue? I haven't emailed Floyd-I thought I'd start with a post and see if anyone else is having issues.

I am running windows 7 premium home with IE 10.0.10. Same configuration for the last few years running without a problem.

JamieD's picture

British (UK) Flour good for American Sourdough Recipes?

Hey everyone,

I'm going a bit post-mad at the moment but bear with me, I thought it might be worth starting a new thread specifically about people's experiences with adapting American sourdough recipes to british flour (the topic came up in my previous post here:

As discussed in that post, I've had serious problems with getting british flour to work with both the tartine and jim lahey no knead recipes - recipes that need a long rise - and we think it might be because british flour just hasn't been bred/manufactured to withstand long rises.... it just ends up like unworkable gloop.... not like it looks when americans bake it with King Arthur All Purpose (which appears to be the standard bread flour for american artisan bread recipes)

Are there any other British sourdough bakers who have had similar experiences with american recipes? If so do you have any recommendations?

I'm getting my hands on some T65 flour soon just because I'm so tired of having unworkable bread -- I'll make sure to make a post on my findings with that too :)

All contributions appreciated,


ichadwick's picture

Ergot, witchcraft and civilization

I spent some time reading up about ergot and rye this past week. Really fascinating stuff. It has had a significant impact on European civilization and was likely the reason for Christianity's whole outlook on witchcraft - all through bread.

I did a (rather lengthy, sorry) blog piece about what I found:

It has links to many of the sites I discovered while researching. What it does for me is to underscore the important role bread played in our cultural and social development; how bread impacts everything in our heritage.

I have a lot more research to do in related areas, and I'll let you know when I post anything new.

I am as fascinated by the history of bread as by making it. This is what I like to do when I'm not baking. Here's what I do when I bake:

Latest boule

christinepi's picture

starter won't float

I created my first starter 12 days ago; I followed Gaaarp's instructions. For the last 6 days it's been sitting on my countertop (ca 67-69 during the day, ca 63 during the night) and I've religiously fed it 2x a day. It always doubles within the first 4-5 hours. It always smells nice and strong after it's doubled, and it's bubbly.

I tried the float test just now and the bit of starter sank like a rock. Do I simply need to give the starter another week or more until it's ready to be used in baking? Anything I'm doing wrong? I wanted to bake tomorrow, but I'm guessing that's off?

orang3's picture

A beginner's notes on sourdough starters

Hello everyone.  I have recently been enchanted by the idea of making my own bread.  This came about after reading Michael Pollan's Cooked book.  So I started a starter about 2 weeks ago and have been struggling with it.  I am following these two methods: and  And my starters are just not behaving like it such according to the directions.  My effort to troubleshoot the issue has led me to this wonderful forum.  For the past week I have been browsing through the vast wealth of knowledge available here and what I have found is that there just as many ways to start and maintain a starter as there are types of breads!  This is probably due to the huge variability involved with factors such as climate, water source, and the type of flour used.  Thus, my goal now is to learn why I am doing something instead of locating a good set of procedures, which I think will inevitability become problematic due to some deviation from the specific conditions require for a particular method.

These are the notes that I have collected so far.  Perhaps some kind veterans here can provide some pointers and corrections on any mistakes.

  • Mixing flour and water : The source of microbes and the growth medium
    • Most of the starting bacteria and yeast comes directly from the whole grain medium that is used in the starter.  This is contrary to the belief that the microbes are captured from the air around. 
    • Organic rye flour is a great for a starter because it is teeming with live microbes and is an excellent food source for them.  
    • Bottled water is also a good way to ensure that the starter doesn't have to endure any unnecessary hardship (chlorine).
    • The microbes "wake up" when conditions becomes right for them to grow.  This starts when you combine water and flour.


  • Feeding: Provide nutrients for the population of microbes to increase
    • The population of the desired bacteria and yeast should become more active and concentrated with each successive feeding.
    • The ideal time to feed the starter is when the population of yeast is at its greatest.  This will ensure maximum growth and prevent any dilution of your starter.
      • Visual- This happens when the starter has reached its maximum volume and is just beginning to collapse.  However, waiting for a starter to double is not a good visual cue. Because depending on how much you feed it, it could triple in volume or more.  
      • Smell and taste- When the starter runs out of food it will become more sour and alcoholic.


  • Maturing: Waiting for the starter to stabilize
    • The ultimate goal for the starter is to achieve a large and stable population of lactobacilli (provides flavor) and yeast (provides the lift).
    • Natural succession will eventually lead to the correct balance of microbes.
      • The good lacto bacteria will ultimately produce enough acid to kill off the undesirable bacteria(responsible for making your starter smell like garbage).
        • Ideal conditions: 90F and pH 5-5.5
      • Once the neighborhood is cleared of the baddies, the yeast will begin populating the starter.
        • Ideal Conditions-80F and a wide pH range*
      • * In order for the initial yeast population to start growing it needs to be "activated".  This occurs when enough acid is produced by the lacto bacteria to bring the pH down to 3.5-4.  This is also the period where the starter may seem dead and inactive after an initial rapid expansion.  Just wait…


  • The start is ready when
    • It can double itself in 8 hours with a 1:2:2 (starter,flour,water) feeding
    • Make a levain and see if it will float in room temperature water


Sonieb's picture

I know you've answered these questions a million times BUT....

Ok, I've studied this forum, books, other webpages, and experimented for about a month now. I FINALLY have two LIVING spelt starters, or chefs or mothers, or whatever they're called (it's like a soft dough form) that are at least three weeks old.

Through all my experimenting I've found I like the firm starter the best. I keep it at room temperature (which in my house right now is around 67-68 degrees) and it smells like yeast when it's actively growing (I was awoke at 3am by my barking dog and when I came into the kitchen I was met with the most lovely YEAST smell!). I'm feeding it once a day (although less than 24 hours in-between, for instance today I did it at 21 hours and it just looked a little bit forlorned, or flat instead of puffy, but still double, I keep missing the "moment" when it reaches double though, so I think it does it sometime in the night? I'm not sure because I usually feed it before noon and then forget about it until the next morning) I could probably feed it twice a day but I don't want to waste that much flour :/. 

Ok, for feedings I've tried numerous things but have had the most success with 5 oz of starter, 1.2 oz of water and 2.5 oz of flour. I am mathematically retarded so all these formulas sound like Greek to me...but I've been most successful using that ratio. 

I've baked with the cast off dough twice now but used the recipes that call for fed or unfed starter that have added leavening; one was 2 tsp. active dry yeast (buttery rolls from the Kind Arthur website) and another was a crumpet recipe with only 1/2 tsp of baking soda. The both turned out very nice (the crumpets were delicious, btw). 

Now for my question: it's living but what IS it and am I doing anything wrong? What do I have? And how can I be sure I'm using it right in recipes? What is the hydration? 50%? 

Should I be using less of the starter to feed? I know I'm using more than most people do....does that mean my starter isn't doing as good as I think it is?

Thank you so much ahead of time. You people here are the nicest people on the planet to put up with all us newbies  and our silly questions :)