The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wondering if more patience is in order

Fly's picture
Fly

Wondering if more patience is in order

I'm on my first sourdough loaf utilizing my 2-week old starter.  I built the starter using THIS process, converting to 100% hydration for ease of use.  The starter looks and smells great and responds vigorously to feeding.  I decided to test it out so yeaterday afternoon I did a first build using 104g of starter and 104g each of water and bread flour, representing 25% of the total flour for the recipe.  The build went as expected and after 18 hours of fermentation I removed the original 104g, doubled it for a feeding (it's happily bubbling away as we speak) and proceeded with the rest of the dough conventionally.  Now, after 2 hours of primary fermentation, the dough has not budged, not one millimeter.  I can press it and feel nothing, I just sliced into it to find absolutely no sign of fermentation.  Not sure what my problem is...but the current situation is exactly the same one that caused me to give up naturally-leavened bread a few months ago.  I have a rocking starter, I build it up, and I end up with hard tack.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Hello Fly,


Congrats on your rocking starter keep feeding it and it will make you happy. Two hours for comerical yeast is a long time. Two hours for sourdough is not much time.  The Crusty Rye Rolls I just made had a final ferment time of 16 hours.  My everyday sourdough ranges between 6 to 10 hours depending on my kitchen temp or if I use my proofing box.


If you wait a long time and nothing happens then I would look at your method if you trust your rocking starter.


Hope this helps. Faith

Fly's picture
Fly

UPDATE


 


A little further reading has led me to the conclusion that perhaps I didn't build the starter up enough.  I only doubled it whereas most of the recipes I'm finding call for quadrupling or more in preparation for baking.   Am I on the right track?  I've been using 25% pre-fermented flour in my yeasted breads after experiencing some problems with 50% pre-fermented recipes.  Is it common to have a larger portion of prefermented flour in naturally-leavened breads?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Recipes vary, so do starters.  It will catch up.  Do a fold or two while you wait to feel the dough and strengthen it.  Keep it covered and comfortable.  The first sourdough rise is a test of your patience.  


Emergency suggestion:   If you find that after 18hrs, the dough has not risen any, mix up a tablespoon of yeast with a tablespoon of water and spread over the stretched out dough, roll up and lightly knead 30 seconds to blend in the yeast.  Cover & rest.  After 30 minutes do a fold and shape the loaf, let rise in a greased form or well floured banneton and bake when doubled.


Mini

whiskers's picture
whiskers

I too am going to be following your thread and updates. Funny, we're both thinking "patience" around the same time! At least it sounds like you have a fully activated starter to work with. Mine is not complete yet, but will be following your footsteps soon. I will make sure to build a strong enough starter - so thanks in advance for your post!


I hope your dough is starting to rise by now....

Davo's picture
Davo

18 hours fermentation of your original build is a heck of a long time. I wonder if it has effectively gone a little dormant from starvation.


I use 150 g of starter (at about 80% hydration) into about 540 g of flour and 380 g of water (it's a fairly stiff brew which is softened by more hydration in the bread dough). (This is the first build (levain, to me) for a 4 (approx 900 g each) loaf  mix - I add about 1400 g flour and 1000 g water to that to make the bread dough. )


I ferment that first build for about 10 hours  and if the starter was active, it's well, well fermented, by then. So you give much less new food and much more time to ferment. I'm guessing it's gone so far past peak activity it's largely died off.


Try reducing the amount of starter and don't let it go for nearly that long... If you MUST have a long long ferment, make up your build with a tiny bit of starter.

Fly's picture
Fly

The loaf that inspired my initial post turned out ok...I finally panned it after 24 hours of primary fermentation and put it in the oven late Saturday night.  Flavor is what I am hoping for, the texture turned out fine.  I hopes of speeding the process up a little bit (ideally 24 hours start to finish!) I upped both starter and sponge amounts last night: 200g of 100% starter into 650g of 100% poolish, representing 40% of the total flour.  Again the poolish took off but this time I mixed the final dough after 12 hours (removing the initial 200g).  First off, the dough is much sticker than I expected from 62%; up until now I've made whole wheat breads around 68%, which is tacky but workable.  Anyway, again I have veeeeerrrryy slow fermentation.  The 200g of starter that I pulled has since doubled, plus a bit more.  What can I take away from this situation?  Like I said, I'd like very much to get my total production time under 48 hours!


 


     I feel compelled to mention here that when I build my yeast starter for brewing beer I pour something like 4oz of liquid culture (store bought) into a gallon of sterile starter wort, which I then ferment for 2-3 days on a magnetic stir plate.  I also harvest only the yeast paste from the bottom.  I only bring it up because the build volume is significantly greater than any bread levain build I've seen.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Would be helpful to have some kind of time line.  I get the feeling the dough is long overproofed...  I first thought the "poolish taking off" (which poolishes don't do) was supposed to be the final dough and then it wasn't... mixing the dough 12 hours later?   Sticky dough can also be an overproofed sign.  The fed starter (pulled 200g) was faster than the dough?   48 hours!  Some important info is missing!  Upping starter amounts increases fermentation and shortens proofing times!   200g starter into a poolish is overkill with 325g flour in the poolish, it would be worn out in 6 hours, 12 for sure! 


With those amounts, the poolish (mixed with starter) should have been added to the dough recipe before it peaked, at about 4 hours.  Or the starter should have been left out of the poolish all together, refreshed along side the poolish (not in it) and combined the next day with the poolish and the rest of the dough ingredients to form a dough.


Now, if your starter is taking 18 hours, then you are not on a 12 hour feeding schedule with your starter.   You want to use the starter before it peaks, just before.  What do you feed it, what temp is it, and how long does it take to reach a peak?  3 very important factors that say a lot about the state of the starter.  That information gives you ideas as to how your dough may behave.


Mini


 

Fly's picture
Fly

I don't think I left out any important information.  Clearly, as the times indicate, something is amiss with my process.  


 


I bake every 2-3 days, so my intention with the poolish was to use it both as a build for the final dough and as a refresher for the starter.  That's why I removed the original volume of starter.  Ultimately I'd just like to get to a point where I' not flushing starter down the drain every day after a feeding. 


 


After pulling the original 200g from starter fro the poolish it continued to expand vigorously, suggesting to me that the poolish was very much active at the time I mixed the final dough. 


 


I just want to find a procedure that's reliable, reasonably efficient, and that doesn't throw away flour every day.