The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First SD loaf - moderate fail

Beloz's picture

First SD loaf - moderate fail

So I finally baked with my first starter on the weekend. I was very excited!

I was going to make this loaf: But I made the recommended levain the night before and it didn't even have one bubble in it by the next morning. So I went to plan b and made this one instead:, but followed the kneading and shaping instructions for the first recipe. (Apart from missing the reference to kneading on speed 2-3, so it took a long time in the Kenwood Chef)

The result was not a complete failure, but after 6 hours proofing it still hadn't risen enough. I baked anyway, hoping for a miracle. It came out looking more like a cake than bread, but the crumb isn't too bad and the taste is pleasant. Would've taken photos but it was a late night and I'm not a morning person either.

Now for my questions to the hive!

1. I just read another thread about starter ratio. And only just notice that that second recipe uses  50%+ starter! (If you are supposed to compare it to water/flour in the recipe, that is). So might that be why my proof took so long? I was going to try this same recipe again tonight, put it in the fridge overnight and then let it proof for 8 hours tomorrow, but now I'm not sure if it's worth it?

2. When I checked the levain for the recipe I originally wanted to make after 24 hours, it did have plenty of bubbles in it. It was too late to use it, so I put it in the fridge. Can I still use that? Or will the yeast have been starved by now?

3. If either of the above recipes are not feasible to start on tonight (I want to bake tomorrow night!), can you recommend any other sandwich bread recipes that you've tried? I'm trying to please an 8yo who has gotten used to super-soft white bread and hasn't liked any of my home-made bread so far. I want to make it SD because it's healthier and I love the idea of it.

Thanks in advance!

DoubleMerlin's picture

I think the trick to please someone with a mild palette with sourdough is to make sure you've refreshed the starter multiple times recently. I'm talking at least tripling the starter each time, refreshing as soon as it's vigorously bubbly. That'll give you plenty of yeast action without as much sour action. Then with that you can do whatever ratio you want. I like going for a 30-40% starter, that'll give you a quick, light rise.

I never use my starter straight out of the fridge, I always make sure it's actively bubbly when I use it.

You could have a good sourdough by tomorrow night, just quadruple the starter tonight, mix the bread tomorrow, and let it proof as long as you have to, up to 12 hours, and then shape and proof.

Goooood luck!

Beloz's picture


My mother starter is still out on the kitchen bench and I refreshed it this morning, though only did a 1:1:1 and probably should've gone for 1:2:2?

But in any case, it should be at its most active by the time I come home, so I will be able to make dough straight away. I'm trying to achieve a super soft crumb. No chewiness or big holes, etc. And I think the original recipe claims the bulk rise and overnight in the fridge help with that too.

clazar123's picture

One of the most important ways to get soft bread (besides adequate hydration) is to make sure you knead it to windowpane!.

That link is on the same site you got the recipe from and THAT is what you really need to pay attention to. Of course milk and butter help,too.

I'm not a sourdough purist when it comes to daily bread for lunch boxes or morning toast for the family. It would not hurt to add a little instant yeast (1/2-1 tsp) in order to speed up the process. I use commercial yeast to tailor my production time. If you have an 8 yr old I'm sure there are many other things on your mind and things to do.

Beloz's picture

I really want to make it SD only. Otherwise I don't really get the point and might as well just do commercial yeast. 

Baked my 3rd loaf yesterday. This time I followed the instructions to the letter, except I didn't make the pre-ferment, but I can't really see the use as the starter is already a pre-ferment? I converted the "levain" to starter + some extra flour. I mixed till it passed the window pane test. Or i thought it resembled the pictures anyway. The dough was very slack which I thought would be good.  Just much harder to shape. 

Let it rise for a couple of hours, popped it in the fridge. Shaped it in the morning and let it proof for 10 hours. At a cool temp because I was going to be out for longer than the recommended 6 hours. Didn't get enough rise. Baked it anyway. Got fair oven spring but not quite as expected. 

Not sure where I went wrong this time! 

I am very stubborn fortunately so will keep trying, but not sure what direction my next experiment should take?