The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

They're alive!!!!!!

T4tigger's picture

They're alive!!!!!!

After 7 long days, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are looking and acting like living, breathing starters. Thing 1, the indoor starter almost tripled itself today, and Thing 2, the outdoor starter doubled.

As I expected, they are behaving differently, but I actually expected Thing 2 to be more energetic than Thing 1. I guess I expected the outdoor microflora to be more lively than the ones in the house.

I'm going to keep them at 100% hydration for a few more days and then switch them to 50%. I want to see if I can expand them both enough to bake with them this weekend.


Bobby's picture

My starter has been going for two weeks now. The last couple days I have noticed the smell has changed to a yeast smell, not so much sour, and is not producing as much hooch. Is this normal?

I have had very little success with the 3 batches of bread I have made. They will not rise at all. The result has been 3 round bricks. I am very new at this. Please, some one help me. I am sure you need more information, but I am not sure what that would be.

bwraith's picture


The starter may produce liquid early on before it is ready and have sour smells before it is ready. When it is ready, you should be able to feed it 1:2:2 of (starter:flour:water by weight, not by volume), and at room temperature it should rise by double in something like 4 hours, roughly.

When it is ready, it should not form liquid on top for hours at room temperature after it has doubled in volume. After it has risen, it should still have a paste-like consistency, not be runny, and not have liquid on top, and it should have a nice pleasant sweet/tangy smell. This is all assuming a starter fed with white AP or bread flour and having a thick paste consistency typical of 100% hydration, meaning the starter contains equal parts by weight of flour and water.

You can use very small amounts to feed it. For example, take one ounce of starter and combine it with 2 ounces of water and 2 ounces of flour. Stir it up, let it sit. If it doesn't rise in 4 hours, but it has fermentation smells and bubbles, then you may want to feed it again in the same way - maybe after 6-10 hours. It is common during this transition from "starting the starter" to getting it stable to underfeed it, i.e. to low a feeding ratio or not often enough, because often "starting a starter" instructions lead you to believe you should only feed it by double every 24 hours, which is not nearly enough to help it transition to a stable starter, once it gets going. A starter at room temperature that is stable needs to be fed more frequently to get it going and stable. Once it is stable, you can feed it less frequently and still "revive it" by feeding it a few times as above. Also, the easiest way to store it once it is stable is to just refrigerate it, possibly thickening it up a little with some extra flour. You can then remove it from the refrigerator and "revive it" before you want to use it by feeding serially a few times as described above.

If you won't be around to feed it, like at night, for example, you can either feed it at a much higher ratio, like 1:5:5 and leave it on the counter, or what I find easier, is just put it in the refrigerator until the next feeding.

I hope this helps.


Bobby's picture

I think from what you are saying, I probably did not have a stable starter when I attempted to make my first three loaves. They did not raise much at all and were very heavy and dense. Do you bake rustic loaves @ 500 degrees? I tried my first @ 450 and the second two @ 400. The first was the most successful of the loaves.

Thanks again for the help,