The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reverse Tutorial Conclusion

BreadBabies's picture

Reverse Tutorial Conclusion

Many months ago, I came crawling on my knees to this community, begging for help on account of multiple baking failures. I made videos of my failures, calling them a "Reverse Tutorial".  Together, we troubleshot the issues and the community was incredibly supportive. There are some special souls in particular who really walked with me on this one and I am greatly appreciative.

If you want to follow the saga, you can visit the original threads.

In the end, the problem was indeed my starter. My starter was maintained with incredible precision and following all the scientific rules which should have produced a great result.  In fact, it was my disbelief that the problem could actually be my starter that led me to ask for help. Surely, it must have been my shaping, or the proofing or some other issue. But it wasn't. Perhaps, I could have tamed that stallion but months of careful attention had not produced results.

I received a new starter as a gift. The difference was remarkable. I applied the same principles and techniques and had so much more success. Actually, with the new one, I wasn't as anal and it still performed infinitely better. Now, I understand what it's like to have a starter that behaves, what it's like to not schedule your life around your starter and still have success. Oh, happy day.

It was very frustrating for me as a relatively new baker to have these problems. If you're in that position, if things aren't working out for you, keep at it. Troubleshoot. Maybe the problem is your starter, maybe it's something else, but with some tenacity and the generosity of this site, you'll have a happy ending.

The lesson for me is to experiment with different starters. They all have their own characteristics, and dare I say, egos. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Glad to see it's going from strength to strength and you're enjoying the benefits. Love the crust and scoring. Great oven spring too. We can see now your skills were always up to scratch and your original starter was home to bugs that misbehaved. We just put flour and water together. That's all we can do! Whatever takes up home is what we're given. Now you've got this very good starter and things are going well why not begin another one and see what happens? I often make starters for fun, see what other characteristics they bring and use them in a few bakes. All the while keeping my main one going. You might be impressed with it and choose to keep two.

BreadBabies's picture

Yes, absolutely. That troublesome one was actually my second starter. The first one, made from the same flour, had also been very difficult to work with though I did have some eventual success with SJSD.  What I will do is vary my flours when trying new starters. I just ran out of my Artisan Baker's Craft, so I'm due back at Central Milling soon.

In the meantime, I'm going to ride the success and enjoy it. I had longed to branch with alternative flours and bolder recipes. But when you're not succeeding with the basic recipes, what's the point?

At the end of the year, even though I finally had a good starter (thank you, sir!) I was a bit burnt out on baking. I had actually parked the starter in the fridge for several months, recalling Dead Fred and that Dabrownman says a good starter can handle it.

This starter came back to life in 36 hours. It was amazing!

pul's picture

Congratulations for overcoming all issues and coming up with a nice bake like this one!


dabrownman's picture

your starter just make a new one with different flours from different places until you get the one you like!  Like you say each one is different.

Well done and happy baking

BreadBabies's picture

She's a wise pup.

gwschenk's picture

looks so good.

Filomatic's picture

Very fine work.  If I had to guess, your other starter was infected with something.  I've not heard of this happening with SD starter, but it's certainly possible.

the P and the C's picture
the P and the C

Sorry that (as a newcomer to this) I don’t have any advice or input about your bread, but I have found your videos to be really well done and entertaining, I love your style of presenting your progress.

BreadBabies's picture

That's kind of you, thanks. Fortunately, the smoking gun is identified. Part of me wishes I still had the old starter so I could treat it exactly the same, side by side, and feed it the flour I'm using right now (which is different). I'd like to see if it would eventually come around. I'm guessing that it probably would. But I needed to cleanse myself of the old starter's know, like burning an ex-boyfriend's sweatshirt or something. So, it was good, emotionally, to break ties. I know that sounds's only bread...but bread is the stuff of life, they say.

Anyway, if nothing else, perhaps this can encourage you should you hit any hiccups in the road as a new baker.

Happy baking and glad to have you here!

the P and the C's picture
the P and the C

It’s all I think about nowadays, hmmm.. what bread should I try next, ummm.. I should read about this or that.., ughh.. when will I get time to put my hands in dough again...

By the way

That starter never deserved you anyhow:) I hope you’re glad you cut ties with that jerk, seems like the new one treats you much better. Why does bread feel like a relationship? I’m pretty sure I’m in the crush phase with my breadstuff- thinking about it all the time, spending too much money on it and now with TFL I’m writing about it. Have I gone nuts? Or is this just the way of the bread baker....

Oh and let me know when you make more videos, they are fun and help when there’s that down time between bakes.

Bake on!


Bread1965's picture

Can't imagine making a better looking loaf.. well done!

alfanso's picture

super.  Nothing like sticktoitivness or whatever the phrase.  Beautiful boule.