The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Save my sourdough??

AbigailBess's picture

Save my sourdough??


I'm a relatively new sourdough baker, and am working with a great starter I got from a friend.  I made two really nice loaves last week and decided to go big this week and double my recipe (since I have tooons of starter!).  I keep feeding my starter and then not having the time to bake with it, so yesterday when I finally had a few hours, I popped my starter in the oven on very low heat after I fed it, so that I could add flour and water later that night and bake with it this morning (I was following the King Arthur Extra Tangy Sourdough recipe which I used last week, they have you add flour and water and stick it in the fridge overnight, then mix in the rest of the flour, salt and sugar and let it rise twice).

My issue is...I think I killed my starter in that initial go in the oven!!! I stupidly mixed in all the flour, water etc anyway, and let it rise once for about 4 hours although it didn't really do anything (King Arthur says it doesn't need to rise a ton) and shaped them.  Now I have 4 loaves that haven't really risen at all.  Is there any way I can save these loaves??  I still have a lot of starter nice and safe in the fridge (it never went in the oven) I could use, plus some regular ol' active dry yeast. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Abby.

You didn't say how hot your oven was, but it sure sounds like it was hot enough to kill your yeast. If that's true, there isn't much you could do with the dead dough except make sculptures with it or add it to your mulch pile.

If you want to make sourdough bread, I'd start over with the reserved, presumably healthy, starter.


Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

I don't know that much about bread baking, but I just watched the Julia Child episode posted by ehanner, featuring Ms. Forestier, who doesn't add the yeast until she has made a dough with her flour and water.  After she has made the dough, she sprinkles the fresh yeast over the dough and kneads it in.  I don't see why you couldn't do that with your dough. Unless you're in a hurry, it should work.

Wheatridge's picture

It does sound as if you killed the yeast.  Yeast will die somewhere around 120f.  When I want to proof something in an oven, I just put a pan of boiling water in the oven next to my dough.  The boiling water does a nice job of raising the temperature in the oven.

drfugawe's picture

I just turn on the light in the oven - holds at 85 degrees - perfect for rising.

Yumarama's picture

My old oven used to keep at 85º range with the door shut so it was much like drfugawe's. My new, better insulated and sealed oven, however, gets up in the high 90's. 

Don't "assume" your oven will be in the mid-80's range with just the light bulb and the door shut. Some bulbs will heat the oven a fair bit more and, if they're well insulated, can get that temp up a fair bit higher. So flip on the light, pop in your thermometer and wait a while (give it maybe a half hour) to see what your oven + light temp really is. If you do find it too hot, just prop the oven door open a bit with something like a rolled up dishcloth or wooden spoon so the temp doesn't build up too high.

And keep in mind your starter or dough would do quite well in the mid to high 70's so you may want to prop open the door anyway. Play with it and see.

But whatever you do, get that oven thermometer out and check your particular set up so you know what it is. 

AbigailBess's picture

Thanks for the suggestions!  I'm pretty sure I killed the yeast from my starter, so I ended up kneading in some dissolved yeast (active dry from a packet) and letting it rise again overnight in the fridge.  Haven't tasted them yet, but the loaves look great.  I'm going to throw a thermometer in the oven and check out the temp with the light on.  Thanks again!

clazar123's picture

I did take a small scoop from the starter and was able to "restart" my starter.I was hoping there was a little remnant of life and apparently there was. I never put it in the oven again. I keep it on top of my refrigerator in the winter. It is usually warmer there from the heat coils in the back.Then i have to remember to feed it-out of sight-out of mind.

Justbugged's picture

Thank you for idea of checking out the temperature of the oven when is off, and with the light bulb on. I had never thought to do this. I have always proofed in the microwave oven. I heat a couple of cups of water to really hot, and then put the loaves in to rise in the steamy environment. Hope that you are successful with your sourdough. Justbugged