The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jamaican sourdough

BirdnDiz's picture

Jamaican sourdough

Was directed to this site by Phunky Pharoah,seems to be the place to be,I’m a beginner,living in Montego Bay and struggling with the heat/humidity for bread making.The FWSY book is not particularly accurate for obvious reasons.Today was high 70’s temp and humid.

Attached picture was the overnight bulk of my Blonde,turned to batter.Ken Forkish says 12-15 hours bulk time,I’m guessing 4 would have done it.

i have some questions as I’d really like to experiment with levain/autolyse method.

I have two starters(AP & WW)fed everyday,that sit on the counter.They are extremely active,bubbly and smell wonderful.I wonder if they are overactive early and tired by the times I use them as the humidity is a factor.Keep them in the fridge(straight after feeding)and take them out two hours before using?Or feed them after they come out of the fridge and wait how long?

Autolyse...20mins before final mix?

Mix...When all the recipes and advice on this forum mention levain in a recipe,are they talking about:

a)A fresh mixture of flour and water,left for a specific time(6-7hrs)?

b)A mixture of my counter top mature starter PLUS flour and water left for a specific time.

Any help appreciated,and thanks PhunkyPharoah!


Here was a bread I made today,turned out decent,not great,but...decent.

350g All Purpose

50g Whole Wheat

110g AP starter

50g WW starter


12.30pm mix


12.45,first fold

1.15,2nd fold


Oven at 4.30(Finger test said so!)






Felila's picture

Well, not too humid. Not like Chicago during the summer. We have tradewinds. 

It's cold now, like, down into the 60s! Brrrr ... 

I keep my starter in the refrigerator. Mix up flour and water for autolyze and also weigh out my starter and my salt. Leave the starter on the counter while autolyze going (an hour or so, two if I space out) and then mix. I have been cheating and adding some instant dry yeast at this stage. Then three French folds, at 15 minute intervals, bulk ferment for an hour, then shape, put in bannetons, retard overnight, bake the next day. 

If my tub of starter is getting low, I mix KA ww flour and water to 70% hydration, add old starter, and put it right back in the fridge. I only bake once or twice a week, so the starter has time to slowly mature in the fridge. 

I wouldn't store my starter at room temp. I'd have to keep feeding it and then using it up! 

There was the one time that I didn't have enough starter and had to make some more quickly. Flour, water, old starter, countertop, and it was ready in a few hours. Thanks to Honolulu temp and humidity?

David R's picture
David R

Starter and refrigeration:

When your starter is new and not yet well established, you need to keep it out of the fridge, or it might not survive. But once it's strong and healthy, you can (and probably should) put it in the fridge. It survives, but in slowed-down mode (a Jamaican experiencing a month of freezing weather might slow down a bit too ☺️).

Martin Crossley's picture
Martin Crossley

The web says Montego bay is getting about 30 deg C today (wow!), so I see what you mean. In those kinds of temperatures your fermentations are going to go very fast; and I think your photo shows that if things go a bit over the top, that will damage the strength of the gluten.

Try searching the site for info on sourdough in hot climates; but one tip that might help is to maintain your starter at a lower level of hydration - that should slow it down a bit and make things more controllable, and you can just make a slight adjustment to add the 'missing' water back in to your main dough.

Perhaps experiment taking some of your discard and cut the water element of the refresh by 50% - stick it on the windowsill and watch it during the day to see how long it takes to peak.

Another factor that high temperatures might introduce, is the level of yeast activity versus lactic acid bacterial activity; as the optimum yeast reproduction temperature is a little lower than for the LAB. The chart below illustrates the effect (although this is a complex subject). When I've experimented with proving at higher temeratures (around 30 deg C), my gluten got very weak and 'flowed' like yours - so it might also be worth reducing the hydration levels and/or amount of salt in your main dough to compensate for that.

I have also heard that certain spices (cinnamon, turmeric) have quite a strong effect on yeast and LAB activity - I'd be really interested to hear if that works.

CelesteU's picture

Ambient humidity isn’t really a significant factor in fermentation, but temp is.  Try using chilled water (put ice in water to chill) to mix the dough, rather than the 90 degree water called for by FWSY.  It will slow fermentation.  Remember that temp of ingredients is just another variable you can control.  If room temp makes things move too fast, do an overnight refrigerated bulk rise.