The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter

littletemchin's picture

Sourdough Starter

I have a starter and it does not seem to leaven properly. It bubbles just fine when I feed it however whenever I try to bake anything out of it, it just doent leaven properly. Now whenever I try making sourdough bread I have to add small amounts of comercial yeast just to be sure that my bread will rise. Is there anyway to make my starter stronger? If so, how? If anyone has any suggestions I would be very grateful to hear them.

arzajac's picture

Keep feeding it.  Keep it at room temperature for a few weeks and feed it twice a day.  If it doesn't double in the 12 hour period, then feed it only once per day until it does.   If it's sluggish, stir it three times per day to help stimulate the yeast.

By doing this, you will help the yeast develop and improve your starter's ability to raise bread.


My starter worked okay for the first five months and then one day improved dramatically.  It has something to do with the different microorganisms finding a balance.


littletemchin's picture

Ok, thank you! I will be sure to try that

calliekoch's picture

    Just curious how long you are leaving your dough to rise with this starter? The first time I used mine, I thought it was inactive but realized it just took longer to get rising in dough than I thought it would, especially on slightly colder days.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

In my website I tell people that if a starter can't double itself, it can't double your bread.  However, that is true only if your starter has enough flour in it.  Different starters, depending largely on how they are maintained, behave differently.


Many people make thinner starters than I suggest.  Say, a cup of flour to a cup of water or even more water and less flour.  A starter that is that thin doesn't have enough physcical strength to double in size.  They will bubble and froth and throw off hooch, but they won't double.


For beginners, I suggest using 1 part of water to 1 part of flour by weight, and feeding a starter at room temperature twice a day and enough to double it in size.  I find that gives me a stable and easy to use starter that will double in size between feedings.  If you measure by colume, that is 1 part water to 1 1/2 parts flour SCOOPED FROM THE SACK by volume.

If a starter that is maintained the way I suggest gets sluggish, I suggest going to three feedings per day, and enough to triple its size with each feeding.  I find that revives almost any starter in a two or three days.


If that doesn't work there's always the option of using Dr. Wood's washing technique, but the jury is still out on that one for me.


Overall, if a starter is fed often enough and enough, and is kept at a reasonable temperature, it should bounce back from almost anything.


Hope this helps,



Jw's picture

I know this does not help you, but anyway: my starter itself does not do much. But I use2-3 steps to make a bread. In the oven, the micacle happens: great oven rise. I did have a few bakes first where not much had happened...