The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sponge - fail

jpos123's picture
jpos123

sponge - fail

Hi all,

 

I am new here, I put info in the intro. forum.

I am new to sourdough, 4 wks. today.  I have 2 failed attempts at waffles w/o a clue as to why.  I did successfully make a choc. sourdough cake.

This morning I was anxious to make sourdough bread.  My starter was on the hungry side (insomnia messes up the hrs. I sleep & wake), but I went ahead in making the sponge.  I peeked every now and then looking for doming, then the last time I saw it had hooch all over it.  :o(

Is there anything I can do to save it and start again?  Or should I just take a cup out and feed it, start over some other day?

Thanks for any help.

jan

CosmicChuck's picture
CosmicChuck

Hello Jan and welcome to the Fresh Loaf!

The first thing I wanted to ask is what kind of time frame are you talking about here? You said you were in a hurry, yet a starter can take hours to become active and can have a tendency to slow itself down when you project that you're in a rush. :)

Also, what percentage of water to flour are you using when you feed the starter? The fact that you are having liquid pool on top suggests that you are using a high percentage of water which is separating out and thus blocking necessary oxygen from getting to the rest of the starter. Try your next feeding with the water being 50%-75% of the flour weight. As in, if you add 4oz of flour, add 2-3oz of water.

Plus, if you want to bake in the morning, mix your sponge the night before. This will gurantee that the starter is active and ready to ferment whatever you are baking in the morning. As I said above, sourdough takes it's own sweet time and patience will be one of the best skills you can aquire in working with it.

Hope this helps!
Cheer,
Steve

CosmicChuck's picture
CosmicChuck

Oh yeah, if you want to salvage your project today, I would pour off the liquid from the top of the starter and let it continue fermenting. Depending on how active (recently fed) it was when you started, you might be able to bake something by this evening.

-Steve

jpos123's picture
jpos123

Oh, I didn't mean I was in a hurry, I meant I was eager to make one.  

I have been feeding my starter for 4 wks., 1/4 c of water to 3/8 flour.  The bread recipe said to make the sponge do 3 c of water and 3 cups of flour.   By 3 hrs. it was covered with hooch.  I did drain it and fed it 3/4 c water to 1 c of flour.  I think it may be too much water for my starter.  There was hooch again in a short amt. of time.

So, you are saying I can make the sponge at night and use it the next morning?  By the recipe I am using it is ready to use in 3 hrs. and it was 3 hrs. that there was hooch all over.  I was told to look for doming, but I never saw any.

So, I should go ahead and drain it?  By now, I have 5 cups of starter or sponge.

jan

CosmicChuck's picture
CosmicChuck

What recipe are you using? If it's online, a link would be helpful so I can see what the formula is trying to accomplish.

But from what you said, I can say these few things:
1. 3cups a flour with 3cups of water is a very high water percentage (over 100% of flour). You will get more sour flavors and a stronger rise from a drier starter.
2. That is also a lot of sponge/starter. How many loaves does this recipe make? And how much flour is added for the final dough? Unless this is making a large batch, that seems like a lot of starter to be adding to a final dough.
3. And yes, you can make a sponge (or starter, preferment, levain, etc.) the night before you bake. Preferably, you want 6-8 hours, but I have found no issues with sleeping in and letting it go an extra hour or two. To get more flavors out of your final bread, you can also make the starter the morning before, let it ferment during the day, put it in the fridge overnight, then de-chill it and make your final dough the next morning. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

The key thing here is to see your recipe so I can make more informed recommendations.

-Steve

jpos123's picture
jpos123

From the 1 c starter + 3 c flour & water I am to take out 1 c of starter when it's ready to store in the fridge.  So, then I am to take 1 c of water and 3 c of the sponge.  To that I am to add 8-9 c of flour, but on the video Wardeh (of GNOWFGLINS, where I am taking an ecourse) only added 5.  It makes 2 loaves.  I really only want one, but due to my cognitive problems (Lyme disease) I have a difficult time even doing simple math.  If it turns out I'll give a loaf to a friend.   This is all hard for me to comprehend even in spite of the video.

I just checked it and it looks very bubbly, like it might be on it's way to frothy.  I added flour to it to make it drier and it was much like dough, then.  Would you mind telling me what to do now?  I really appreciate the help.

 

jan

jpos123's picture
jpos123

Boy, am I tired!  With all the messing around I did with the dough I doubt it will make good bread.

I sure wish that I could put the dough in the fridge after the 1st rising (I have to do the double rise method now) and take it out tomorrow to continue.

Salilah's picture
Salilah

Heya - sorry just seen your comment.  I wonder if perhaps you are not using the most useful recipe?  I frequently put my dough in the fridge after the first rise (bulk fermentation) - sometimes just as dough, sometimes I shape and pop into the banneton into the fridge - so why does your recipe say you can't?

Going back to your starter...  Is it healthy and active, do you think?  Does it bubble and look lively a few (2-7) hours after you feed it?
I'm sorry, I'm not really up on cups - I use weights, and my starter is 100% hydration i.e. I add 100g water and 100g flour when I feed to a smaller (around 70g) amount of starter.  What is the balance in your starter of water and flour (by weight)?

Then - you say you make a sponge.  Perhaps if you posted your recipe we could help?  I don't (usually) make a sponge - I go from starter to autolyse to main dough, though I do feed my starter (usually) when it comes out from the fridge...

I think there are a number of things going on for you - starter, feeding, sponge, recipe, dough etc - and we can't help with all of these without more info???

S

jpos123's picture
jpos123

The recipe didn't say if I could or couldn't.  I did put it in the fridge after all, because I was exhausted.  It was a bit dry looking and I found I was supposed to cover it with a damp towel (maybe even plastic wrap since it was in the fridge?)   It did rise this morning and now I have it in loaf pans.  I don't think they will turn out, but I need to see it through. 

I don't know weight, hydration, and such.  Nor do I know metric measurements.  I know little about sourdough.

My starter bubbles and if I am a lil late with feeding, it gets frothy.  I usually have about 10 oz. of it, I dump half at feeding and give it 1/4 c of water and 3/8 c of flour.  It does rise, but only 1/2 - not doubling it size.

I think the recipe wasn't a good one.  There were confusing things in it.  Yet, it works for the woman, I wonder if the fact that she uses spelt and I used white ww made the difference.   I would like to try another recipe.

The sponge is what she called it.  It was the starter built up to by 3 c water & flour, both.  What is autolyse?

jan

jpos123's picture
jpos123

I think my bread turned out ok.  I never really had sourdough, so don't know.  It is dense and reminds me of rye bread.  I don't know if it's dense because it is supposed to be, or because of the whole wheat flour, or because I abused the dough.   LOL

G-man's picture
G-man

Hey Jan,

Welcome to TFL and to sourdough.

Reading through your posts here, I've got a couple changes to suggest. First it sounds like your starter is very high hydration. Typically I'd recommend feeding twice as much flour as water, by volume, if you're opposed to the idea of getting a scale. It sounds like you're working from a recipe, but if that recipe isn't working for you...it's time to examine other methods.

There will be a difference between spelt and wheat. Not sure how big a difference, I'm not accustomed to working with spelt.

Also, you might consider proofing longer. What sort of rise were you seeing in your dough before you shaped it and again before you put it in the oven? Sourdough won't rise as much as commercially yeasted breads, but the rise should still be noticeable.

Finally to answer your question, autolyse is where you let the dough rest after mixing. Gluten bonds will begin forming on their own without any encouragement. It improves the texture and rise of lean doughs (dough made with flour, water, yeast, and later salt, but nothing else). Autolyse steps can run from 20 to 60 minutes.

jpos123's picture
jpos123

Hello,

To feed it I use 1.5 times as much flour.  (I only started the starter 4 wks ago Sat. )

I couldn't tell how much rise, but know that it definitely did rise.  The 2nd rise, I probably should have waited longer, but I was in such a state with it not going like on the ecourse video.  Plus, I made my own mistakes.

I did let the dough rest after mixing.

My starter is now in the fridge for a bit.  I need a break. haha  I would attempt it again next weekend, but will be away.

Thanks for all the help, Everybody!

jan