The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough that won't rise my breads

dans's picture

Sourdough that won't rise my breads

Hello everybody out there!

I just made my own Sourdough Starter, 100% hydration. I feed it twice per day, every twelve hours. It seems pretty active to me, but when i refresh it to bake the next day, the dough won't rise, it tend to spread...i get a little oven spring and nice color...i let it ferment 2.5 hours, 20 min. resting on the table and then 2.5 hours of proofing.

I baked Norwich Sourdough, english mufifns, and a Bordelais....same results: nice color, crumb and smell, but they are flat.

Can anyone may light my path...i am in darkness here..

Thanks in advance,



LindyD's picture

When did you make the starter?

Marjoke's picture

I'm working with a 100% starter for a year now. My starter is also fed every 12 hours.

Maybe it works when I tell you the way I'm using my starter.

When I've planned to bake a bread I use the starter  at the moment I should normally feed it. After the autolyse I add the starter and the salt. It's important to give your dough the rising time it needs. The first time, after the kneading, it takes two hours before I give it a businessletter turn. At that point the volume hasn't changed much. The next rising time, in the banneton, the dough gets 2 to 5 hours. Look good at your dough and don't overhaste it. On the other hand; take care that your dough doesn't rise more than twice the volume because it will also become a flat pancake.


I hope this will contribute to a more satisfying bread. succes,






Wild-Yeast's picture

How Old?

Yes, how old is it?  Starters take some time to mature, usually two to three weeks before it's ready for rising bread.  Through experience I've found that a new starter doesn't stabilize till several months into an environment (complex relationships between starter, flour, water, temperature and attitude of the individual baker).  This does not mean that you can't use it to bake after the initial week or two.  The only way that to really appraise the stage of a starter is to make bread from it and judge how it's doing by taste and mouth feel. Right now your making door stops, a fairly common (mandatory right to passage?) when learning.  Sooner or later the bread will rise and you'll never forget that first successful loaf.  It will certainly change your hat size as regards baking competence, everything else will be just a piece of cake afterward.


My sourdough takes 4 to 6 hours to proof.  Even so, it's purposely under proofed to maximize oven spring. 

Slow Food

So in escense it's really slow food. I'd advise that you keep feeding in an effort to mature the starter to the point where it produces the desired leavening action with the attendant sour note.  As you might by now suspect this takes time. Be patient and obediently attend your starter, it sounds like it's on it's way.


dans's picture

Thank you Wild Yeast. In fact i followed your method to make my starter, and it is becoming more and more mature, but yes, this is a 6 weeks old baby. So i will obediently keep feeding it and hopefuly it will raise my wonder breads eventually. Thanks again.

SulaBlue's picture

When, and how, is it spreading? During proofing or during baking?

If during proofing - where are you allowing your dough to rise? In a bowl or on the counter? Freeform on a pan without a couche or anything to help it hold the shape? (I am guilty as charged here and ended up with a doorstop!).

If during baking, are you slashing your loaves?

I'm not familiar with the recipes you are speaking of, but 2-2 1/2 hours does seem like a short time for proofing. Most sourdough recipes I've seen (in my limited experience) have closer to 4 hours for the first rise and then another 2-3 after shaping.

dans's picture

Thank you all for your posts. And as you all agreed, yes, i have a little baby, 6 weeks old, so i just have to be patient and wait 'til i'll get my desired raise. I'll keep you informed!


thanks again,


Wild-Yeast's picture


Six weeks with activity should raise the bread. 


Early on I had this same problem.  Reducing the amount of water (hydration) for a firmer dough along with becoming proficient at forming a "cloak" or "skin in tension" through the forming technique led to a successful outcome.

How To Do It

The Back Home Bakery has a great series of videos that do a great job explaining the forming technique (too bad they weren't around when I was fumbling around in the dark):



Pjacobs's picture

A couple of years ago when I was new at it, I always added some additional yeast. I'm sure you would rather not, but it will help get your bread up without affecting the taste. Just a thought. I eventually got tired of feeding the thing and let it die. Now I ferment dough overnight, 24 48 hours, and let it go at that. I don't have sourdough bread, but I have bread that tastes great. Good luck.

Phil Jacobs

executor's picture

I'm just copy - pasting the info I already entered in another post ""

You may find it useful: "Some times I have to bake a lot of Sourdough, so I have to have a lot of starter ready to be used, but a sponge like starter is a little hard to keep in this case, because sooner or later one have to get rid of a lot of starter or simply it becomes a nasty mess due to the big amount you finally get. So instead of a sponge like starter I use a Biga like starter, that works exactly the same as the sponge but is easier to keep. In order to do this I first start with a sponge using a 100% hydration, and feed it every day, but after 4 days I usually increase the amount of flour so the hydration decreases to 65%. Then I just feed my barm every 4 days by replacing a 50% of the barm with 50% fresh dough or symply adding 100% fresh dough if I'm running low of starter. This dough should have three times its original size after 4 days in the refrigerator, and smell a little between sour and something like glue. As leavener agent this starter is powerful and fast. I keep mine in two boxes in the refrigerator, so it is easy to have total control over temperature, fermentation and time. When I'm planning not to use it for a long time I just roll it in a plastic bag and then freeze it. In order to make bread I use a 50% of this barm in relation to the flour, and the bread is wonderfull and is not as sour as when the sponge is used. "

I hope this will help you a little.