The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Rising Problems

diverpro94's picture

Sourdough Rising Problems

So my sourdough starter is bubbly and seems to look fine. I'm almost sure it hasn't risen after about 9 days. How do I get it to rise?

Amy T's picture
Amy T

I am having similer problems, my starter is bubbly but not really rising. When I tried to make bread with it, it did not rise at all, and I did three rises-one overnight in the fridge, one after kneading, and another after shaping. (it did however rise slightly around the edges after I put it in the oven) tasted wonderful just very very very dense, more like sourdough biscotti :-)

diverpro94's picture

WOW! I have the same exact problems. My recipe said after about 5 days it should be bubbly and done, so I decided to use it. I made a basic sourdough bread and it would not rise at all. The recipe said it would rise in about one hour, but looking at that now that is WAY off. It came out very dense, but it did come out with a couple of crumbs that were fairly big. My family asked me if it was cooked all the way through because it was so dense. I hope the birds like it! :(

Janknitz's picture

1. How old is your starter?
2. How often do you feed it?
3. What's the hydration level?
4. What recipe are you trying to use?
5. what's the temperature in your kitchen?

diverpro94's picture

1. 2 weeks, but I put it in the fidge once

2. Once every 24 hours

3. I keep it at 100% (1:1:1)

4. One I found online. It uses plain flour and water

5. I think 69F.

Amy T's picture
Amy T

My starter is about two weeks old and I used a recipie from The Joy of Cooking. I feed it every 12 hours. at first it was doing great, smelled like yeast, slightly acidic and maybe a little fruity, then about 5 days ago it lost its yeasty smell and it smells horrible (I am a vet tech) and the only way I know to describe it is like a dog with mange and a bad secondary bacterial infection. Somehow I do not think this is how my starter should smell. I think it is about 70-72 degrees F in my kitchen, thats not to cold is it?

lindasbread's picture

Hi, it sounds like you have to start over. Sourdough shouldn't smell like a bacterial infection :) I don't know what recipe you used / here is mine, just in case. I use 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 water for the frist day. The second I add 12/ cup of flour and about 1/4 cup water. I stir the mixture and add only so much water until I have a thick pancake like mixture. I found that too much water doesn't work. / not for me. The 3rd day I add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 c. water, like the 2nd day. I keep it near the oven, where it is warmer. Sometimes I put it into the cool oven with the light on. After the 4th day, it should have bubbles throughout and smell sour.

Good luck

Amy T's picture
Amy T

Thanks so much lindasbread! Also I forgot to say that when it lost its "yeasty" smell it lost all its bubbles and is completly flat. I will throw it out and start over! thank you!

Janknitz's picture

Is your starter doubling between feedings?

So far it sounds like your starter is too young and it's underfed.

At this point, you should be leaving your starter out on the counter and feeding it twice daily to strengthen it. It takes a few weeks until the starter is well-established so it can raise bread.

In the meantime, you can try something easier like pancakes or waffles. When your starter is reliably doubling in 8 hours you can try baking bread and start storing the starter in the fridge.

ehanner's picture

If your starter isn't at least doubling in 12 or even 8 hours, it isn't ready to bake with. Even after it is doubling in 8 hours, if you are looking at directions that say it should rise in 1 hour, that's not a sourdough recipe.

If your starter is healthy, the time it will take to rise bread is dependent on 1.)The amount of starter you use in the dough mix, 2.) The temperature of the dough and the hydration of the dough.

As an example. My daily sourdough bread is a very simple straight forward mix that starts with 50 grams of starter which is about 1 heaping Tablespoon. To this I add 325 grams of water at a temp that will give me a dough temp of 73F and 500 grams of bread flour and 10 grams of salt. After mixing well I cover the dough and leave it on the counter or someplace where it will be in 65-75 degree temps. The next morning the dough will be fluffy and get some stretch and folds. After about 18 hours from when I first mixed the starter and water and flour, it will be ready for shaping.

If I start the process using 200 grams of starter, the inoculation will be larger, the colony of bacteria will multiply faster and I'll be ready to bake a less tasty but still good loaf in about 8 hours.

In warm summer Months when the kitchen is 10 degrees warmer everything is accelerated somewhat.

So, first feed your starter at room temp until it's healthy and smells good.


nicodvb's picture

The nice thing about sourdough is that there's only one possible cure: refreshments,

Mine was weak, so I fed it tripling (using the same weight of starter, water and flour) every 4-6 hours (depending on the amount of time it took to double) for 3-4 days.
I started with 10 grams + 10 grams + 10 grams and continued
with 20+20+20, 30+30+30 and so on.

The remains I collected in a jar in the fridge, stirring the content every time.

At the end of the third day the sourdough was so active that it kept growing and overflowing the jar both inside and outside the fridge