The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Starter trouble

timneyc's picture
timneyc

Starter trouble

Just built a sour dough starter and used a cup of it in my bread recipe. I usually let it rise for 15 or so hours.  However I noticed that after those 15hrs it really hasn't changed much.  Only a couple of bubbles on the surface.  What am I doing wrong here?

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Please tell us more. We need a complete and utter history of your starter to comment :)

You've 'just' built one but 'usually' leave it for 15 hours.

Ford's picture
Ford

How old ia your starter?  How did you make it?  We need more information.

Ford

timneyc's picture
timneyc

The starter is 7 days old.  I feel like I did the starter correctly.  It smells pungent has a lot of bubbles.  When I saw little activity this am I added about another 1/8 of a cup of starter and I am starting to see a few more bubbles in my dough.  Still not the activity that I'm use to seeing with commercial yeast.

Ford's picture
Ford

I don't know your recipe, but even with the pineapple juice solution, it would be too young!  It takes at least two weeks to be ready for bread, and four weeks to be considered mature.  Even with a mature starter, sourdoough does not rise as fast as commercial yeast bread

Ford

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

work in a good dose of softened commercial yeast to get it risen right away before your dough falls apart.  

I have had starters raise a loaf in a week.  So it can be done but it sounds like the yeast in the starter needs pampering.  That can be done with larger feeds and feeding consecutively  at peak activity.  

Temperature  has a big impact on starter growth.  What are your temps?

timneyc's picture
timneyc

well first of all thx for replies. It's ab 69-70 degrees in house. Maybe I should back up a bit as I thought I was done with this starter. Should I continue to discard half of the starter daily and add 4 oz of water and flour? How long do I do this, or when do I know I'm successful?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the starter may indeed take 2 weeks until it can raise dough. Try getting the starter up to 75°F to 76°F now, do not discard and watch the starter. Don't discard until you can see positive rising results or very strong yeast aromas.

Four oz. is a lot of flour....

You can reasonably reduce the starter discarding to 1 or 2 oz adding 1 oz water and up to 2oz flour to make a thick paste. Let it rise in a warmer location, mark the level and watch it. When the starter rises and finishes rising, then it is time to feed it. Stirring may speed the process along but warmth will make a big difference. At this point, it may benefit the culture to skip every other feeding so don't rush fermentation if keeping with the cooler temps. It is too easy to over feed it right now.

The starter will rise with a dome and when a dimple forms in the middle and starts to level out, that is a sign that it has peaked. Soon after it may fall as gas escapes. If stirred at peak degassing the culture, it will rise again. Then it will definitely need a discard and feeding after that if it shows all the signs of fermentation.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

My kitchen is about the same temp as yours and had a week old starter last weekend which although it was bubbling was nowhere near ready - maybe try splitting it and feed the other half in a warmer area to give it a boost and then see if at least one is ready in several days.  Then once its ready dont kill it (speaking from recent experience) 

timneyc's picture
timneyc

Oh man I think I need to start from scratch. most starter recipes talk about feeding it for the first 5 days. Should I be measuring the height of my starter within those 5 days or after? Also how do I "kill a starter" and how do I know when it's dead? 

 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

What is your maintenance schedule at the moment, what does it smell like and how much activity do you see? 

Preferable in grams... how much do you keep and how much do you feed it water and flour? 

Any chance for a photo? 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

say in much detail is that temperature makes the difference.  Just get your starter warmer, skip a feeding or two and then reduce the size of it so it won't need so much flour.   Don't throw it out.    

The culture goes thru many phases, just tell us what it smells like.  That should help us pinpoint your progress so far.  :)