The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first SD

smasty's picture

My first SD

I'm in the middle of my very first SD bake.  I'm using Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough recipe, which uses a levain.  I grew my levain for 7 days (he says in the book that it should be ready to use on day 6).  The thing is, I didn't really see much rise in the bulk ferment stage.  There was a change in the dough structure, but very little growth (2.5 hours with 1 fold).  My shaped loaves have been sitting for 2.5 hours and though smooth and elastic looking...still not much growth.  The oven is heating right now...if I don't see miraculous oven spring, these are going to  be really small heavy loaves.  Maybe my levain didn't grow for long enough....too soon to start guessing until they come out of the oven.  Needless to say, I'm on pins and needles until these babies go in the oven.  More to come....


Update: geez, it looks like I will have 3 pounds of flatbread.  What happened?  Levain not mature enough?  It had bubbles and a delightful smell, sort of like yogurt.  I have it (my levain) in the fridge now, I can continue to feed it 2x a day (at room temp) for another that a good strategy?  I'm a bit bummed. 


pmccool's picture

than dough made with commercial yeasts.  Hence the baker's dictum: Watch the dough, not the clock.  Sourdough is also very sensitive to temperature.  A starter that can double in 2-4 hours at 78F may take 6-8 hours to double at 68F. 

rockfish42's advice to continue feeding your starter for another week is sound.  Your starter will continue to develop and, by observing it, you will gain a better understanding of how it behaves.


smasty's picture

That answers a critical question I had....clock or growth.  It had just started to "rise" when time was up...I was wondering if I should have waited. 

althetrainer's picture

I remember it took me more than 14 days to get my starter ready for the first use.  But again, we live in a very cool area and the temperature in our kitchen is much cooler than average. I would agree with the previous posters, feed your starter a bit longer to see if it will make any difference.

When I make a sponge for sourdough bread the night before baking, I always make sure my starter sit in room temperature for at least an hour before adding flour and water into it.  Then I let it sit for 8 - 12 hours and make sure it's fully active then I make the dough.  The first rise usually takes 4 hours and the second takes 2 - 3 hours in my oven.  If I want to speed up the final proof I put a pan of hot water in the oven with my dough; it takes about 2 hours to rise fully.

smasty's picture

Thank you for the tips, I will use them on the next attempt.

asicign's picture

Good luck on the next bake.


I made Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough last week.  My starter was perhaps two weeks old.  My kitchen is very warm (I live in Houston and don't like to spend the big bucks on cooling).  I got a very nice rise in the time suggested by Hamelman.  I was more concerned about overproofing because the last time I tried a sourdough, the loaves collapsed when I scored them.