The Fresh Loaf

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I killed my starters with heat. Any way to save them/the bread I was in the midst of making?

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Graid's picture
Graid

I killed my starters with heat. Any way to save them/the bread I was in the midst of making?

Last night I sadly managed to kill both of my starters. These are the first starters I have been succcessful in making by myself, they took months to establish, and represent the wastage of a massive quantity of flour, time and effort. I was also in the midst of making rye bread for a friend of mine, and have a rye dough here full of dead starter. It's my own fault, because I'm a forgetful idiot, but I would really appreciate any advice on what might revive them and/or serve as leavening for the thoroughly dead seeming 100% rye bread I was in the midst of making. 

How did I manage to kill them both? It was cold in the house, and the starters were sluggish and I needed them to rise faster  to help them make rye bread for me on time for my friend's visit today. So I did what I've done many a time, and warmed the oven up a bit with them in it, keeping the oven at the lowest temperature.  Only, I forgot the crucial part of warming yeast products with the oven, and didn't actually turn it OFF. By the time I realised my mistake,  the temperature of the starters was at 41C according to my thermometer.

Still, I wanted that rye bread made, and from looking around, 41C seemed like it might not have killed them. So, I went ahead with trying to use it to leaven the rye dough I had ready.  And fed the starters again to find out if they were dead. I left it over night and there is absolutely zero sign of life from the starters or the mixed rye dough.

I'm sure there's at least a way to leaven the rye dough with instant yeast? The thought of trying to stir instant yeast into my horribly, horribly sticky annoyance of dough is horrible, but needs must. A sachet (7g) of yeast for my roughly 500g bread sound plausible? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've found that 100% rye dough after 8 hours of being mixed up, will not rise, not even with added yeast.  The delicate protein matrix no longer can hold gas.  It may be wise to treat the rye dough as a starter and add fresh flour or gluten developed wheat dough to it, epoxy style. Try a wheat recipe that would bring the rye to wheat ratio to 60/40) and add yeast.  Or you could add 50% fresh rye flour to it with instant yeast and give it approximately one hour proof before baking.   Depending on the recipe, you have a very short time window to get the dough rising and into the oven.   Keep the dough warm and moist for maximum stretch and dough hydration 85% and upwards.  Be on the look out for dough deterioration while rising.  

Give the starters a day or two to show signs of life, you may want to thin them a little bit with unsweetened pineapple or orange juice.    This should keep bad bacteria away while numbers build.  Do not feed more flour and risk diluting until they taste sour, then introduce more yeasts from dark coarse rye flour.  I would also go ahead and start new starters or look for any traces of starters at the back of the fridge or other back up sources.

Mini

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

especially for rye! Once I made a plain mash with rye flour and 100°C water, let cool the rye and guess what? after 2 days I had a new starter!

Another time I made bread adding to the rye preferment water at 50°C with a lot of salt in it. After 1 hour it was ready for the oven.

Rye flour is magical, there are always many reasons to love it. If there's one thing it loves that is heat!

Graid's picture
Graid

Thanks for the advice! In actual fact, I did manage to rise and bake the rye bread with instant yeast, and the result had a decent texture though not nearly as tasty as sourdough. I was glad to get to use the dough instead of waste it in any case. The bread was superior to what can be achieved with instant yeast alone.

I found and followed advice elsewhere before I saw your post, MiniOven, suggesting that I should discard all but a tablespoon of starter and try again with a new feed and proof for 12 hours and see if had any sign of life. That sounds pretty much like the exact opposite of your advice to leave it alone, and seems as if it would dilute the actual yeast in the starter rather than help build it. However, I did this to one of my starters and I am seeing *apparent* signs of life today- bubbles and a slight rise.

The other starter I left alone as per your advice.

I am also seeing what appears to be signs of life in it today as well, with bubbles and a rise, albeit smaller than the other one. Hopefully it's not the bad kind of bacteria.  I did not have any pineapple juice or orange juice yesterday to add.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Even a cooked starter will contain the same pH needed to help any survivors left in the starter.  Maybe somewhere in the middle of the starter some beasties survived and they will make their presence known if given time.  They can be reduced to about 100g to watch more easily.  A lot depends on stage of fermentation when it overheated. 

Graid's picture
Graid

There was no information given specifically for overheated starters, it was advice for lifeless seeming starters of any kind. 

But anyhow, I am happy to say that both starters did NOT die after all. Raw, they still taste the same as they always did- a sort of mildly alcoholly sourish banana flavour, and though I've not baked bread with them again, they're certainly active.  In fact, one of them was even doubling quicker than before. Possibly because I got the notion that perhaps it might help them to feed them on a 1:2:2 sort of ratio as opposed to 1:1:1 though that is probably misguided. 

As to their Ph, when measured, it has never been low enough, according to what is said about proper sourdough Ph but they seem to do their work. Sort of. The 100% rye bread has been just as I wanted, the white bread- usually flattens out into a puddle and then it turns into a pita bread in the oven, all hollow inside. But anyhow, I'm at least apparently back to where I was with a couple more lessons learned.

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Which starter are you using for white bread?  If it is a rye starter, try feeding your rye starter half wheat flour for a few days and then try again. you might even want to try 1:5:5 and see where that takes the starter.