The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How can I tell if there is an enzyme problem?

goose13's picture

How can I tell if there is an enzyme problem?

Per the recommendation of clazar123, I'm posting to see if perhaps my starter has gone bad, and what I can do to bring it back.

Lately with the warmer weather I have been experiencing some tearing in my final proofing. I adjusted times and ingrediants to try and keep this from happening but I'm not having any luck. The dough is so sticky it doesn't want to come out of the mixer, and while I use oil on the counter and some on my hand while shaping, it very quickly becomes sticky and hard to manage. Clazar123 thinks it might be an enzyme issue, but since I have only been baking with starters for a few months I'm not sure exactly how to recognize this problem or what to do if it happens. I feed my starter 70g bread flour and 30g rye when I feed it with 100g water. I believe this is considered 100% hydration.

I have two floors in my condo, the upper being warmer and the lower about 10 degrees cooler(70 ish).  I have been keeping the starter up stairs, for convenience, but I think it might be better to move it down, along with the dough while it's proofing. Any other suggestion? I took a few pictures (with my phone, sorry for the quality) of my latest loaf as well as my starter about 3 hours after feeding as reference.



ananda's picture

Hi Ryan,

Yes, move the starter to the cooler area.

Other tips: Reduce the hydration to c60% and make your levain with cooler water.

Allow less development time for your leaven

Reduce the amount of leaven in your final dough.

There's 3 possibilities for you to try.

Best wishes


goose13's picture

I've already moved the starter to a cooler locale, even though it's unseasonably cool today I know it won't last, and took a portion of the starter and began a feeding schedule to produce a 60% starter. I'll see how that turns out. In the last go around I tried less starter, perhaps I'll go even less the next time with the original starter.

Thanks very much,


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Here is Debra Wink's write up on it.  You can see it was a long thread to figure out the problem.  In about ten days you will be back in business.  :)

goose13's picture

Thanks so much for this Mini, it was so informative and sounds like I'm in a similar situation as Debra was. I'll give that a try with the remainder of my starter.



wassisname's picture

Wow, this explains a lot.  I have been in fits lately trying to get my WW starter to raise a mostly white sourdough, only to have it go slack and sticky every time, no matter what I do.  Now I have a have a big lump of all WW leaven building-up for a bake and it's doing the same thing - probably didn't help that I switched WW flours.  Grrrrr...  Now, to go on with the bake or not, that is the question.  Thanks for the info!


Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

I had the same issues going from WW to AP for my starter...

details here:

- Keith

nicodvb's picture


a friend chemist told me that a small amount of vitamin C should react with an enzyme naturally present  in the flour and fix your problem with the thiol compounds, assuming that  is the problem you have. A quick fix for the current bread, but for a more permanent solution for your starter follow Mini's link.