The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Personal Starter Challenge

jimbtv's picture

My Personal Starter Challenge

So many people here seem to struggle with their starters. I don't struggle at all. My breads seem to rise just fine and I don't overly muss or fuss with my starter.

In an effort to screw-up my bread making and show some solidarity with the struggling masses, I made an attempt at  reviving an ignored and abused sample of my original starter that has been sitting in the back of my refrigerator for over six months. You can read all about it and view the pictures at this site:

I decided to post a page on my website instead of clogging-up Floyd's server.

One more thing. Hat's off to all of you who provide journals of your work in this forum. What a pain in the a$$ ! It is so much easier just to bake bread without the commentary and pictures.

Portus's picture

Reminds me of what I once read about clearing muddy water by leaving it alone!

DanAyo's picture

Thanks, Jim!

Either information concerning bread baking varies tremendously. Meaning the answer could be yes, no, or maybe so. Or there is a lot of misinformation out there. Well meaning people share information that is not correct. I know I've been guilty on many more than one occasion :-) Bread baking is intricate at it's higher levels. That's why many of us are drawn to it.

I am in no way implying that we stop posting our thoughts and opinions. Please keep them coming. But test like this, especially with pictures, tell it like it is.

So the bottom line for me, is to gather all of the information on a given subject that I can find. And then test (or read the test of others) in order to get the real scoop.

That's why I sometimes sign off as - - - 
"inquiring minds want to know"

jimbtv's picture

Thanks Portus and DanAyo.

The more information we all have the better decisions we can make in the future. My intention was to show that a  simpler approach can work too.

alfanso's picture

My first attempt at a starter failed.  Maybe it would have been successful had I known more at the time.  My next, Debra's pineapple juice solution was successful, and to this day its great grandkids are still bubbling away in my two standard starters.  

I don't tinker with my starters or levains, just feed them when they are hungry or I need more and c'est la vie - they work just dandy!

Now, whether it is luck or the local environment, water, ambient yeasts and beasts, etc., maybe skill or some combination of these - they survive and, like you, I never stress out or fuss.  

Just this morning I wanted to give a 100% hydration with a 50/50 combo of mixed flours in a container of goop a feeding for a mix later today.  I dumped out 100g from the ~300g in the container and meant to feed it 50g water and 25g & 25g mixed flours.  But accidentally added 50g&50g.  So...I just mixed it, dumped another 100g out and then did it right.  Other than being a tad annoyed at myself for being inattentive to the amounts and the minor waste of some flour, I don't get hung up on this stuff. Whatever hydration and/or flour mix I need, I adjust the amounts of the feeding and it works.

Portus's picture

... started with the Forkish recipe in FWSY but soon found far too precise and complicated.  Came across James Morton's suggested "flour, water and a handful of raisins", which I left in a jar on the window sill for a few days until bubbled away.  Eventually across TFL and DBM's NMNF, so I converted it to rye and the rest, as they say, is history.


dabrownman's picture

a starter that was pretty much totally no muss and no fuss that I could completely ignore on purpose for 6 months at a time but still make great bread from it every week by abusing it even more.  Here is how


No Muss No Fuss Starter

Happy baking - the more no muss no fuss the better.

jimbtv's picture

Your No Muss No Fuss starter is legendary around these parts :-)  I wish more people who are troubled by their temperamental starters would follow your advice.

Like others I too failed at my first starter attempts. I too think that my original problems were based on ignorance and not on any failed processes or products. I converted my 100% hydration starter to a (nearly) 50% starter some time ago. It has been reliable and easy to maintain.

Again, this dry mother is the basis for my refreshers and levains. Those range in the 65 - 100% hydration range.