The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Refreshing only once- enough?

hazimtug's picture

Refreshing only once- enough?

I have been baking breads using my white, almost 100% starter, somewhat regularly. Every weekend or every other weekend... I haven't used it since last Saturday and I wanted to use it again this weekend. Typically, I refresh it at least twice before I use it in a formula. Due to my schedule though, I only refreshed it once this time- last night. Can I go ahead and use it tonight, i.e., only after one refreshment? I wonder if it would have that significant effect on the resulting bread? I was thinking of a country walnut bread for this weekend in our WFO.

Thanks much!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

To ensure a rise you might want to add some instant yeast 2 hours before the end of the sourdough bulk rise.  Just flatten it out and sprinkle with instant.  Roll up and knead for a minute.  Cover and finish bulk rising.   After the two hours are up, shape and let rise as for yeasted breads.  A true Hybrid!  and you won't have to worry.


hazimtug's picture

Mini- thanks for the comment. I tried the sourdough walnut twice before, both with some whole wheat or rye, and they both turned out a bit denser than I expected. Still tasted great. Why shouldn't I add the yeast when I am initially forming the bulk dough together with the starter (well, I prep a firm starter, which I then use to make the bulk dough)? So, with your description, it would be like punching it down and adding more yeast before letting it ferment again.

I'll take your advice even though I usually hate to betray my wild friends with the commercial folks :). I feel like the purely wild version produces superior and/or more complex flavors.

Tried any other combinations with walnuts, or even pecans in breads?


pmccool's picture


Mini's advice will accomplish what you are trying to achieve: good flavor and a dependable final rise.  Using just your starter for the bulk fermentation will give your dough a slower ferment and, therefore, a longer time to develop the flavors you want.  Adding commercial yeast shortly before shaping will produce a more reliable, and more predictable, final rise.  Et voila!  The best of both worlds, more or less.


davec's picture

Hi, Hazim,

I have a cranberry-pecan loaf cooling now.  It was made with a whole wheat starter that had been in the fridge for two weeks.  I refreshed once, for about four hours, then let the bulk fermentation go overnight at room temperature.  It rose just fine with no added yeast.


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Hazim.

Mini's suggestion is fail safe, but, in answer to your original question: If your starter acts really happy and active when you refreshed it once, it should work fine without the added yeast.

I have made many, many breads with my starter refreshed just once after a 2-week "vacation" in the fridge. I feed it using a 1:3:4 (starter: water: flour) ratio and let it ferment at room temperature overnight (8-10 hours). It generally doubles and is airy and domed. I then proceed with making my dough. It has not failed me yet.

A second feeding or making an "intermediate build" is safer, in principle, but your starter's response to the single feeding will tell you whether it's ready to be put to work.


hazimtug's picture

Thanks David for the info. I think I do have a lively enough starter to get me going. I'll let you guys know about the results.