The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

starter rises fast

kritter's picture

starter rises fast

I began my starter 6 days ago. I am using WW flour. After feeding it, it quickly doubles in size, and then begins to collapse soon after. It seems to rise for about an hour and then shrink back down to the size it originally was. Is this normal?

kritter's picture

I guess I should also address my other confusions. First of all, I'm new to making bread. Ive only started in the past year. Last week I decided I wanted to attempt this starter. So it's all very new to me. I began this starter following instructions I found on another website, before I found this one. The instructions on that site suggested removing some starter before feeding and discarding, and then adding equal parts flour and water for the feeding. I'm confused though, because on this site I've read things that refer to feeding starter with old starter, flour and water. What exactly should I be doing here? LoL I am so confused! My starter is not solid, it's a thick liquid. How much flour and water should I be feeding it? And how often now? The temperature in my house has been around 65-70 degrees depending on weather over past week, and I've been leaving my starter on the counter in my kitchen. Anyway, I wish I would have found this site before beginning this, probably would have saved myself some confusion.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

your starter sounds like day two with bacterial growth.  The starter needs to be in a warmer location about 75°F or a few degrees warmer for faster growth.  Whether it is runny or thick doesn't really make a difference.   The important factors are a little warmth and patience.    

jcking's picture

Tell us more about your process please.

Are you using cups or weights?

What are the proportions?

Type of flour?

That would be a big help.


kritter's picture

I'm using whole wheat flour. I was following directions from another site that said to remove 1\2 cup starter and then add 1\2 cup flour, and 1\2 cup water to feed. I've been doing that once a day when I wake up. It didn't start doubling until 2 days ago. But when it did, it did it pretty quickly. I've realized now that it was a little more than an hour. I fed it, sat down and watched a movie and came back and it was huge. Then it just started to go back down. Yesterday it did the same. This morning it didn't rise as much though. It rose about half of what it did yesterday and then went back down, and is only about a half inch above where it started now. Everything I've read online about this process has contradicted the last think I read lol. I find the more research I do, the more I second guess everything I've done so far. I desperately need some guidance here.

kritter's picture

Oh, and I'm using cups. I do not yet have a kitchen scale. Im a poor college student, and have to work with the bare minimum. My fiancé supports my baking habit to an extent, but after we buy all the ingredients I need, it's hard to convince him to get the gadgets as well. I need a job just to support my addiction to not just baking, but cooking period. But then I wouldn't have time to do it.

amolitor's picture

Your starter sounds fine. You can actually feed in pretty much any proportions you like, different ratios have different effects, but they're generally subtle effects.

The ideas in play here are:

  1. you need some of the existing starter to provide yeasts and bacteria for the next generation (after feeding), so after feeding your new mixture should be something like 10% to 25% the old mixture. If you use too little old starter in the new mix, it will have trouble surviving, you won't have a big enough colony and it will struggle. If you use too much old starter, it'll get going too fast and will eat up all the new flour too fast, and you'll wind up feeding more often than you'd like.
  2. thicker mixtures (more flour) rise more slowly, thinner ones rise faster. I use a thickness that's almost like mayonaise of peanut butter -- it will pour, but just barely. You can go as thin as, say, a cream soup or a gravy -- something that's definitely liquid -- without any trouble, though.

So, for now, since you seem to have a pretty active culture going already, just pick some amounts. Like, 2 tablespoons of old starter, 1/4 cup flour, and enough water to make a slurry or paste or liquid of some thickness that you can remember. I use "about 1 tablespoon" of starter, "about 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour" and "enough water to make a mayonaise-like paste" and it works fine, but you can pick your own ratios. If things are going too fast, reduce the amount of old starter you're using in the new mix, OR use less water/more flour so you get a thicker new mixture, OR keep the whole thing cooler to slow things down, or any combination of them. If things aren't going fast enough, use more old starter, OD use less water, OR keep it warmer, or any combination.

How fast is too fast? How slow is too slow? That's pretty much up to you -- if you have to get up in the middle of the night to feed it, it's probably going too fast! If it takes more than, say, 4 or 5 hours to rise and get all bubbly and nice, it's probably going too slow (it will be hard to use -- you want to use your starter when it's just peaking, so you want to be able to predict when it'll do that).

Don't sweat the details too much. These are resilient organisms. Give them some flour and some water to eat pretty often and they'll be fine.



kritter's picture

Thank you so much! I feel like I have a game plan now. This is a very confusing thing to venture into without any guidance. But I think the biggest problem I have is over thinking it. I really appreciate your help.

copyu's picture

..."over-thinking" the issue. Your starter sounds too young to consider making well-risen, tasty bread with it. It takes a couple of weeks to get to a 'healthy balance'. There are bacteria in the culture that may account for some of the rising and gassing, but your goal is to get a nice, even balance between the wild yeasts and the bacteria. Also, as was suggested, you want to be able to predict how and when your starter 'peaks'. It takes more than a week to do that.

If you're really keen to start using it, why not try pre-fermenting something; say, 20% of the total flour(s) you want to use in your final dough, with some of your discard and see what happens? If you don't get any visible results, overnight, you could pop the pre-ferment into the fridge to see what happens, or spike it with a pinch of instant yeast and wait a few more hours. That way, there's no wastage! You should be able to make something very edible, despite the youth of your SD culture...a lot of people make excellent bread using instant yeast in their pre-ferments.

Best of luck,


Yerffej's picture

What exactly were the ingredients when you first began the starter?