The Fresh Loaf

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Non rising sourdough

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harriseeber's picture
harriseeber

Non rising sourdough

I finally got a sourdough starter using pineappple juice. It has a nice yeasty smell. However, I am not having much luck making sourdough bread. I have tried using the recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and the bread does not rise and seems too dense. It does not have the large holes that I like in sourdough bread. I am using King Aurthur Bread Flour and weighing the flour. The dough seems very wet but I'm not sure how it should feel since I have not made a successful bread. I also tried a couplel of recipes from the King Aurthur web site. One recipe called for yeast and it raised but the flavor was not as sour as I like. I am trying the Extra-Tangy Sourdough recipe now but the dough seems very, very wet (hard to handle wet), and I am not getting a rise. Any suggestions as to what I am doing wrong or how to get my dough to rise?

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

is that your starter is not old enough and/or not active enough.  Before talking about the bread, tell us more about your starter.  You said you finally got a starter with the pineapple juice method.  That's a great start, but...


-How old is your starter?
-How often, what, and how much do you feed it?
-How active is it just before you feed it (doubling in 12 hours, 8hours, in 5 hours, or xxx)?
-How active is it when you take out the portion for your bread?
-Where and how do you store it between feedings?


If you have a brand new starter I am thinking it may not be strong enough yet to raise bread.  Once that is established, and if all is satisfactory there, then there are many bread questions to be asked and answered too.   However, keep in mind that sourdough is a challenge.  It is bread, not rocket science, but it is still a challenge.  Mike Avery says, "Baking takes patience and sourdough baking takes patience squared!."


Hang in there and keep at it.  It will come with time, patience, practice and learning.  You are at the right place to get plenty of advice and assistance.


OldWoodenSpoon

harriseeber's picture
harriseeber

Thanks for your reply. My starter is about 4 weeks old. I feed it about every third day and the day before I make my dough. I'm not sure how long it takes to double when I feed it. I haven't timed it but will next time I feed it. I store it in the refridgerator. If it is not active enough how do I make it more active? Do I need to feed it more? Should I feed it and make my dough the same day? Any advice is appreciated. My friends are waiting for a good loaf of sourdough.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

If you want a healthy, active starter you need to feed it more often.


Every 3rd day or every week is fine if you're not baking. So is keeping it in the fridge. 


If you're baking, at least 2 days before you should be feeding it at least 2 times per day, and leaving it at room temperature, not in the fridge.


Once you've done that, you can start to bake with the sourdough 4 hours after the last feeding. 


These steps should help the strength of your sourdough significantly. Keep us posted on how it goes!


 


 

placebo's picture
placebo

I used the same KA recipe you did awhile back. It's a good recipe, I think, to stick with for now. It's straightforward and results in good bread. I produced my best loaf of sourdough up until then using it. The dough was kind of wet and sticky, but I could work with it with just a light dusting of flour. You might just need to cut back a bit on the water or use a bit more flour.


After you feed the starter, its activity level rises, and it will increase in volume. The activity eventually peaks (my starter peaks about 8 hours after a feeding), and subsequently, the starter will fall a bit. You want to use the starter in the recipe when it's near its peak, when its teeming with yeast and bacteria. 


You might want to try make non-sourdough breads first just to get the hang of what a typical dough should feel like and to learn how to work with dough. Commercial yeast just makes things more predictable and faster. That's what I ended up doing after making several mediocre loaves of sourdough. I found it easier to develop the needed skills when I didn't have to put up with the variability inherent with sourdough.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

your starter is young, and not active enough.  Cranbo is right about increasing your feeding schedule.  We all have different opinions on how to do that.  You will need to find what works for your schedule and for your starter.  Instead of telling you what you should do, I'll tell you what I do that works for me.  You can try my methods, or follow someone elses.  Your choice.


What works for me is:  I keep my starter on the counter in the kitchen where it is pretty cool but no where near as cool as the fridge, if I am planning to bake soon.  I feed my starter no less than twice a day a (100% hydration) ratio of 1:1:1 by weight (s:w:f).  For me that is 50 grams of "old" starter, 50 grams of tap (well) water and 50 grams of flour.  I do it by weight, and I weigh out 50 grams of my starter, put all the rest of the leftovers (discard) into a container in the fridge that I later turn into waffles, pancakes, muffins, pizza dough, tortillas, etc..  Then I clean the starter container, add the 50 grams of water and stir the 50 grams of starter into it.  Then I stir the 50 grams of flour into that and set it back on the counter to go to work.


I pay some attention to it during the day.  I have gotten to know about how high it will be just before it falls back in on itself, and when it gets to that point I feed it again.  If it is really warm this will happen more often.  This time of year (mid-winter here) it lasts all day and I end up feeding before bedtime and after I get up in the morning.  In the summer I have to feed it three times daily at least.


I pull my starter to begin elaborating (expanding) for baking just prior to feeding, then feed accordingly.  If I am not going to bake again for a few days then I wait one hour after feeding to give the starter time to get to work on the new food, then I stick it in the fridge.  I pull it out of the fridge one or two days before baking, give it an hour or two to warm up a little, and start over at the top with feeding and waiting for it to peak then feeding again.  You will get to know your own starter over time and establish a rythm that works for both you and it.


I suggest that you start by feeding your starter on a regular basis at least twice a day.  You want your starter to be peaking in 4 to 6 hours (as a very general rule that guides everyone but rules no one) so you know there is enough yeast and growing actively enough to get in there and raise your dough.  Once your starter is all excited, pick one basic sourdough bread recipe and bake it over and over and over until you get the feel of the dough, the rythm of your starter, and some sense of the timing of baking with sourdough.  It takes some getting used to.


Good Luck, and keep us posted on how it goes.
OldWoodenSpoon

placebo's picture
placebo

Don't store a starter in the refrigerator unless it's healthy and active. When it's stored in the refrigerator, feeding it once a week is fine. Every third day might actually be too often. Every time you feed the starter, you dilute it, and with enough time, the yeast and bacteria will repopulate. The cool temperature in the refrigerator slows that process down, so feeding the starter every three days might not be giving it enough time to recover between feedings.


When you keep a starter at room temperature, you need to feed it more often than every third day. You should, at a minimum, feed it once a day to keep it active and healthy. I feed mine twice a day.


To nurse a starter back to health, just keep it at room temperature. If there's some activity, just do regular feedings for a couple of days, and the starter should regain its health. Once it's healthy and active, you can feed it and then immediately store it in the refrigerator.

harriseeber's picture
harriseeber

I have been out of town yesterday and today so have not done anything to my starter yet. I appreciate all of the helpful suggestions. I have taken my starter out of the fridge and will feed it after the chill is gone and will try to follow the suggestions to get it active before attempting to make bread again. Does anyone have a suggestion for a good easy to read thermometer?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Hi harriseeber,


You don't have to wait until the chill is gone to feed your starter from the fridge. You can feed it right out of the fridge. It's more important to leave it at room temp and feed it frequently when you are going to start baking. 


If you want a great thermometer, get a Thermapen. Not cheap, but possibly the best quality: extremely fast and accurate. 

harriseeber's picture
harriseeber

I have been feeding my starter for 4 days now twice a day and keeping it on the kitchen counter. All it does is increase about one and a half times. It does not double. It bubbles but since it hasn't doubled I didn't think it was active enough to make bread. What can I do to get it to double? Keep feeding twice a day until is does? I heard to add yeast but I didn't want to reduce the sourness of the starter.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Whatever you do, don't add commercial yeast to your starter, it will take over your starter in a negative way.

A couple more questions:

What temperature is your room? This will help determine if it's too cool, which is possible.

What is the hydration of your starter? Explain to us exactly how you feed it. In this case, if your starter is overly firm it may help to make it more liquid to begin with.

placebo's picture
placebo

If your starter is thin, it may simply be letting the gas escape rather than rising. This is one reason some prefer a relatively firm starter. It makes is easier to tell if the starter is healthy.


As others have noted, we need more specific info on how you are feeding your starter to tell what's actually going on.

Zeb's picture
Zeb

Hi,


What feeding pattern are you using?  There are various different ways to go.


Some people do 1 : 1 : 1  starter: flour : water) which has the advantage of being easy when working out hydrations.


I get better volume from my starter when I use more flour than water and at least two - ten times as much new water and flour as starter - particularly when building rye starters for some reason...


I often do this ratio : 25 grams old starter  100 grams water 125  grams flour  1 : 4: 5    and that works pretty well and gives me a very active starter after about 7 hours, depending on room temperature. 


Less old starter, more new material for the yeasts and bacteria to work on, there are loads in just a spoonful so you don't need that much. I used to always sneak more in there, thinking that it would make the starter better, in fact it seems to be the opposite. Less is more.  best wishes, Joanna

harriseeber's picture
harriseeber

I am feeding 1:1:1. I was wondering about adding more flour but then again I heard it would decrease the sourness. I like a very sour bread so do not want to do that unless I have to. I know the room temp will affect it but I don't really have a warmer place to put it at this time.

placebo's picture
placebo

What's the temperature where you keep the starter? 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Just a wild guess, but your starter may not be doubling because of your ratio. 1:1:1  doesn't give a lot of food for your starter to eat. 


I would do 1:3:3 (starter:water:flour) or 1:4:5 (by weight or by volume) as someone else suggested. You can use small quantities, too: example: 10g starter, 30g flour, 30g water. No need to be wasteful if you aren't using the starter for baking. 


Again, your room temp is important, let us know what it is, that makes a big difference in yeast activity.


 

placebo's picture
placebo

Despite what people say here, I feed my starter using a 2:1:1 ratio, and it easily doubles. 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

placebo, did you mean your feed ratio is 2 parts starter, 1 part water, and 1 part flour, by weight?


Just curious, what do you see as the advantage of that? 


 

placebo's picture
placebo

When I made my starter from scratch, I followed Mike Avery's (old) instructions at sourdoughhome.com, and he used a 2:1:1 ratio. It has worked fine for me, so I didn't see a reason to change.


I've seen a lot of people assert that 1:1:1 is a minimum otherwise you're starving the starter, but that doesn't seem to agree with my experience.

harriseeber's picture
harriseeber

Thanks for all the quick responses. I love this site. My room temp is between 68 and 70F. I am going to try to feed it larger quantities however I think my starter may have died. I fed it last night and but saw few bubbles and very little rise this morning. It doesn't smell bad but it doesn't have the nice yeasty smell that it once had. I went ahead and fed it this morning 1:2:3 ratio of starter, water and flour. I'm waiting to see what happens. If I don't get any activity I have some more in the freezer that I will try.