The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I've given up on Sourdough

blueboy2419's picture

I've given up on Sourdough

No matter how much I've tried, I simply can't get any success with Sourdough. I must have wasted kilos of flour trying to get a successful starter and even when I think I've cracked it, it all goes wrong and I'm back to square one.

An experimental approach has led me to my own technique that consistently gives me a tasty loaf. I use very little AD yeast, maybe 3g in 500g of flour, 70% hydration and a two day refrigerated fermentation.

I'm happy.and not wasting any more flour.


RFMonaco's picture


Hey blueboy2419I've given up on Sourdough

You can't taste holes, I would go for more bread. my 0.002 cents.

Ford's picture

If you have patience, you can make a starter.  It will take about a month to get one that is mature, but you can start using it in about ten days.  Follow the instructions given by Debra Winks and you will succeed.


But, if you are happy with your current product, by all means forget the sourdough.


bread basket's picture
bread basket

Feed your starter with rye! This will make all the difference; those beasties love rye. To make a wheat bread just elaborate with BF or AP. Good luck!


isand66's picture

You can also see if anyone lives in your area and is willing to donate some of their starter to your cause.  I believe there is even a website or two devoted to sharing starters.  You can also try starting a yeast water starter which is very simple to make and may give you another option to try.  There is certainly nothing wrong with using a polish, biga or pate ferment to add flavor to your bread as well as overnight bulk fermenting which I do with my SD dough and yeasted dough.

Xenophon's picture

...the end result is rewarding.

First, if you're happy with what you do now, so much the better, there's no law prescribing the use of sourdough.

I first tried getting a starter to work 18 months failure and I chucked it all out and vowed to stick to ordinary yeast.  Last summer I got bored though, mixed up some rye flour and water, put it in a hart on my countertop (in Delhi, think a kitchen where it's 37 centigrade) and basically neglected the hell out of it, no regular feedings, the temperature my surprise it showed activity, very slow in the beginning (taking >10 hours to double) but now I've got a vigorous culture going which I store in my refrigerator.  I just take it out to feed it, let it stand for a couple of hours (doubles in about 4 hours now) and back in the fridge it goes.

Once/twice per week I take out part to build my preferment, nothing is wasted and the results are spectacular.  What I mean to say is:  don't write it off, let it rest a while, then give it another try, my experience demonstrates that it's possible even in adverse conditions and flouting all the 'rules'.  But what I did find was that it takes time, you may have 'a' starter in a couple of weeks but at least I've found that it really takes a lot longer to come to equilibrium and become really vigorous.

Since starting with sourdough bread I've also comer to understand what the term 'building a bread' actually means.


BTW:  the bread in the pics you posted looks nice, sourdough or not!


Good luck and don't write it off for good.



yozzause's picture

your alternative certainly does not look to shabby do you bulk ferment for 2 days or do you  cold ferment the shaped loaves for 2 days

regards Derek

blueboy2419's picture

Thank you for your encouragement. I might leave it for a while and give it another go in the new year.

Derek: I use an overnight preferment then bulk ferment the main dough for two days, all in the fridge. I then take the dough out, shape my loaves and leave in bannetons (in a plastic bag) for final rise at room temp. This time of year it's taking about 2 hours before ready for oven, giving me plenty of time to get my oven stone nice and hot.

yozzause's picture

Hi Blueboy

I shall try that myself, as i do think the result achieved is quite impressive. Lots of time to develope some fine flavours.

many thanks and kind regards Derek

DavidEF's picture


Don't know how you've been doing sourdough, because you don't tell here. But, if you're not using whole wheat or rye flour, the addition of one or both of those might help a lot. Both WW and Rye seem to have an advantage over refined (white) flour for starting a culture. Perhaps they already contain more wild yeast and lactobacilli, or just more food for them to start. It is possible to start a successful culture from white flour, too. But those are easier.

That being said, there are other sourdough alternatives. One is to simply get a culture that is known to be good. There are companies that sell cultures, and there is the group that call themselves Friends of Carl Griffith who give away their (his) culture to anyone for the price of postage. is their website. They also have some good information about the starter and why they give it away.

Another thing you can do, although some would call it cheating, is to make sourdough from commercial yeast. Put a little bit of baker's yeast in some flour and water, knowing it will rise, not guessing. Then, keep it and refresh it at room temperature once or twice a day, as if it were a sourdough culture. Eventually, it will be, for all intents and purposes. The lactobacilli are the flavor makers in sourdough. The yeast has little or nothing to do with flavor, only with rising. By starting with commercial yeast, you will be able to make bread with it right away, but the rich sourdough flavors will still have to come to those who wait, as the lactobacillus culture slowly begins to infiltrate. Even so, you could help that along, too, by adding a little bit of acid, such as pineapple juice, to the culture, to give the lactobacilli an early advantage. One they get established, they create their own acidic environment that unwanted bacteria can't live in.

Whatever you do, don't "give up" on sourdough. There are really lots of resources available to help you succeed. In the interim, making loaves like those pictured ain't nothin' to sneeze at, even if they are made from bakers' yeast.


Holes can be tasty too! I love powdered sugar donut holes! But seriously, large holes in the crumb of bread can be a good thing. It wouldn't work for Wonder Bread, but a rustic bread with a crunchy crust and chewy, holey crumb is like gold if it's done right. I usually make sandwich bread at my house, because we eat a lot of it, and I don't have much time to make other kinds. But I've made boules like those pictured above, and it was so good! There really wasn't even a comparison. I'd make them every day, if I could find the time.