The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sudden Starter Death?

Djehuty's picture

Sudden Starter Death?


It has been a while since I've done any serious baking, and a couple of years since I've experimented with wild yeast breads.  I decided to give it another go, and to try a firm starter this time, using the method described in Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Every Day.  I thought I had succeeded.  My seed culture showed good activity, and when I built the mother starter it rose well.  I then put it in the refrigerator.

Now, three days later, I'm trying to make the San Francisco Sourdough recipe from the same book.  Last night I made the starter, to the book's directions, from two ounces of the mother starter in the fridge.  It seemed to rise well enough.  I made the dough, let it sit out for a couple of hours, saw what I thought were the beginnings of a rise, then put it in the fridge overnight (all according to directions).

Today... nothing.  I took the dough out, let it warm up, divided it, shaped it, and waited.  And waited.  And I am still waiting.  It's even in a warm oven, in case the cool day is at fault for the slow rise.  But absolutely nothing is happening, except perhaps that the round things that I wanted to become rolls have become more splat-like over time.

What might I have done wrong?  I was hoping to provide the family with fresh sourdough hamburger buns, but it seems all I've done is to make some very unappetizing pancakes and a banneton full of something best not mentioned.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

warming with your hands and redistributing the food for the yeast... could even add some fresh yeast (paste with a little water) and work it into the dough to make sure it rises without getting too sour.  It will rise with time but if you want to get finished this afternoon, add some yeast to boost the timing.  I would.

Next time give it longer to rise before chilling. 

Djehuty's picture

Thank you, I will do that next time.  (And I could have sworn I posted a response thanking you earlier, but I don't see it now -- apologies in case this shows up as a duplicate.)

I tried baking the rolls, and they puffed up slightly, and now look like little UFOs or undeflated pitas.  I wasn't able to get the dough out of the banneton intact, though.

I took the starter out of the refrigerator, and it began to grow again, so I'd say this proves your point.  It needed more time for the yeast to reproduce and grow before being chilled.  Many thanks -- I'll know what to do next time.