The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Just starting out

Sudz's picture

Just starting out

Hey all! Hopefully going to get a starter, started tonight!

My goal is in 12 days, to make a loaf of sourdough.

Now, Looking around, it seems like it's one of the harder loafs to make. I am handy with baking, but this will be my first attempt at anything with yeast! Wish me luck! I'm thinking I will start a blog on here to document my adventures (hopefully not misadventures!) through my trials!

Update soon!

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

In addition to providing enjoyment and laughter to the more experienced, you can learn a lot from them, especially by sharing and asking for specific help and advice.

Check out Glenn's blog (AKA  D'Oh! Boy) some good examples. Make sure to read some of the older (6 weeks ago) posts.


proth5's picture

enthusiasm and agressive goals.


You might have better success if you waited 3 -4 weeks for your starter to properly mature before starting to bake with it.  Prior to it becoming mature, you may experience difficulties with it raising the dough and may find "strong" flavors from the various bacteria that exist in the new culture.

Or you may be lucky.  Don't don't say you weren't warned.

Sourdough isn't especially difficult - after all, it's the way bread was made for centuries, before the development of our commercial yeasts.  Once established, if even marginally well cared for a starter can be very stable - showing its robust nature as compared with commercial yeasts.  So, all in all, a sourdough loaf is a pretty reliable thing.

But it does take patience...

Sudz's picture

I got lucky - I just eyeballed everything.

Flour in the bowl, Added water, Salt.

Bred bakers yeast in warm water with a half teaspoon of sugar.

waited 20 minutes, poured yeast and extra water into bread.

Mixed... very little rising.

Folded and stretched, folded and stretched for about 10 minutes. Looked a lot better. Little rising after 20 minutes. Put it in a lukewarm oven (off) and left the house for 4 hours. Came back to bowl FULL of dough.

Punched it down, Shaped it on a cooking sheet, Waited 20 minutes. Put it in the oven and turned the oven to 350*f. (oven was off when I put the loaf in... I wanted some more rising)

Put a breadpan of water on the bottom, and dropped a handful on the burner at 5 minutes. Sprayed cooking oil on the loaf before putting it in as well. (all I had)

Used all purpose flour (which explains the plain taste)

Here are the results!

The crumb pic makes it look like whole wheat... I tweaked settings to show the bubbles better

Here is the actual color of the loaf


And my starter for some sourdough. (bubbles at 8 hours? Weird?)


I got lucky with eyeballing the ingredients -But I think this is what I'd call a successful first try with using yeast!


Ford's picture

"And my starter for some sourdough. (bubbles at 8 hours? Weird?)"

That is a common occurance, but it is probably not the wild yeast and the lactobacteria causing it.  You may smell a foul odor in a few days, unless you tried the pineapple juice method.  I suggest you read the following sites:


PS:  It will probably take more than a month to get a mature starter from scratch.  Remember use unbleached, unbrominated flour, and chlorine free water.

Sudz's picture

It's working! Bubbles, nearly doubled in size today. Mixed in some more flour and a tad of water. Brownish fluid on the bottom. I stired it up and there was foam. Smells... not pleasant, but not rank. Just... odd.

stay tuned!

GSnyde's picture

Hi, Sudz.  Sounds like you're already enjoying the process of getting to know bread-baking.  I've been at it about six weeks.  What I found is that you learn the most quickly by both repeating the same recipe several times and trying a variety of types of breads.  That way you are learning from your mistakes on a particular bread (and thus improving it each time), while also getting broad experience with different ingredients and techniques.

The other big factor in my own progress has been reading lots of the blogs about recipes and baking experiences (both the crusty veterans and the novices) and looking at the numerous videos on techniques.  The TFL search bar is your friend.

Happy Baking!


majorvox's picture

I had some issues with getting a starter started... hmmm.  Anyway I finally learned that yes there are several different kinds of flours that can vary from the bromated to unbromated and can have differing protien levels.  My final success was to use milk since I didn't have any bottled water and my tap has everything from Chlorine to Flouride in it.  Not that those things are bad for what they do for drinking water but in the case of Sourdough Starter they are not good.  I have also been working with the amount of hydration since that also seems to be an issue for some of these loaves.  I probably vary around 50% to 65% hydration in my starter.  Then just find some reason to use it every week and refresh it!

Sudz's picture

It doesn't smell nice. It is a beige color... It grows just over double every time it sits for a day.

My method:

Plain white flour, mixed with water to pancake batter consistancy. Ran aroundthe room with the mixture, took it outside for a breath of fresh air on the balcony... Put it on top of the fridge and covered 95% of it with cling wrap.

Added 4 Tbsp each day. Once I got to a 1 &1/3 cup, I started dumping half and adding to 1 Cup each day.

Day 3, I added one drop of vinegar to the reduced (1/2 cup) mix, then added my water and flour for its feeding.

Day 3... some bubbles. Day 7 (today) is its biggest rise ever.

It still smells... Well, Not appetising. Does it ever smell good?

at what point to I stop leaving it out of the fridge?

Ford's picture

The "bad" odor will go away once the bacteria (leuconostoc) causing it die off due to the acid they produce.  Your adding a drop of vinegar helped speed the process; try another drop.

Keep feeding the starter once a day at room temperature for a couple more weeks.   By that time, though not truly mature, it is at least adolescent and can be put away in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.  When the time for baking arrives, remove the starter from the refrigerator and feed it with an equal weight of flour and water.  Let it ferment for about eight hours and again feed it equal weights of flour and water.  Let this ferment for eight to twelve hours and it should be ready to go.

By the way, almost all of the lacto bacteria and the yeast you are trying to cultivate are most probably in the flour, not the air.


Sudz's picture

I had to go away for the weekend, so I fed the starter, let it sit for an hour, then put it in the fridge.

It was in there from Friday Morning to Monday Night.

It had risen while I was gone.

I pulled it out. Fed it again, and put it on top of the fridge. Now It just has tiny little bubbles at the top and hasn't risen in 10 hours.

Did I kill the yeast?

Marni's picture

It'll be fine, just feed it again a few more times, preferably twice a day.  It may take a little while, but it should respond.  The food plus the warmer temp. will get it going.


Marni's picture

I responded without having read the whole post. (sorry)  I agree that you need to give a new starter time.  I still think you'll be fine, but you might have to be a bit patient.  When the starter doubles sooner ( 5-8 hrs?) then it is strong and ready to get to work. 

Hope this helps,


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

from the way it's being fed.  If it tastes sour (you can spit it out) try removing just a tablespoon (from the middle) and then feeding water and flour to make 1/2 cup a little thicker than pancake batter, more like toothpaste.  Then stand back and see what happens.  I like to cover with plastic wrap with a rubber band to hold; it lets gas escape and keeps bugs out.

I was worried earlier when you mentioned the unusual brown liquid on the bottom.  This could be happening when chlorine is in the water.  So to be on the safe side, I suggest letting your starter/dough  water stand in a cloth covered jug or jar one day before using it.  Let us know if it is still happening.


Sudz's picture

I'll run a second starter - not quite ready to give this one up yet.

The water I'm using is going through a brita filter and sitting for at least a week. (ones one of those huge one gallon ones that sit on your fridge shelf)

When I get home from work today I'll Feed it again, twice a day.