The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

gummy Levain texture and final dough texture

samf526's picture

gummy Levain texture and final dough texture

Hi everyone,

I'm just starting to work with sourdough/levain starters and I had some observations that I wanted to ask about / verify.  (I used PR's Crust & Crumb pain au levain recipe, which uses a mild starter).

1. My mild starter, begginning on day 3, had a very gummy texture.  I've never overkneaded dough, but from what I've read about it, it seemed like my starter resembled overkneaded stuck to anything it touched, was very stringy and stretchy, but also tore really easily.  This change occured between day 2 and 3 while the starter was developing (i.e., when I went to feed the starter on day 3, I found it with this strange texture).   Is this what is supposed to happen?  If so, is there some compound released by the yeast/bacteria that causes this?  

2. When making the final loaf, my dough also had a very unique texture I've never encountered with non-sourdoughs.  It was like a very soft and supple playdough.  It was difficult to shape it because it never seemed to reach a point where there was a good amount of surface tension.  With normal doughs, the more you work it, the firmer and tigher the dough gets.  This dough seemed to retain its supplness and never got tough.  Is this also a typical dough texture/feel for naturally leavened breads?

Pardon me if these questions have been asked somewhere on this site before.  I've looked around and couldn't find any other post about a "gummy" starter, so i thought i'd post.  Thanks!


mwilson's picture

Understand that the yeast and bacteria need food to survive. Enzymes will breakdown the flour to provide a food source resulting in the dough qualities you describe.

A final dough having these properties means you'll likely end up with a dense loaf. Either you have used too much starter, or the starter wasn't active enough to begin with...

How often are you feeding and how long does it take to triple/quadruple?