The Fresh Loaf

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suddenly stopped rising

scottl's picture

suddenly stopped rising


I've been making relatively successful sourdough for a few years with a self-made starter. I recently went on holiday for a few weeks and had someone feed my starter once while away (something I've done many times before).

The first loaf I made after returning was wonderful - one of the best rises I've ever had - properly huge and fluffy.

I've made two loaves since and now there seems to be no oven rise at all (and noticeably less rise in first and second proves, which I do 11 hours first prove and 12 hours in fridge second).

Any explanations?

I'm generally pretty rough and ready with my starter (feeding often enough but not by measure and with mostly white and a dash of rye flour) and it's always been up to it. Never have I not had any over rise at all. 

Many thanks in advance.


BakersRoom's picture

You mention the trip, and the sourdough being different when you got back.  The first loaf was fine, but none after that right?

Okay, so what did you do when you got back?  How did you rehab your starter?  Is it different now, like less rise, less texture, less smell?  

My instincts tell me you maybe fed your new starter too little of the old, so it doesn't have a proper yeast population anymore.  If that were the case though, your starter would look different while fermenting, so its important I know the answer to the questions.  

Sourdough is pretty hard to kill or mess up though.  Don't throw anything out, and I'm sure you'll come through this with an intact starter.  

scottl's picture

Hello - yes I think you're right that it has slowed down - and I have no intention of throwing the starter out. My confusion comes from the fact that I've never before had it perform quite like this after being away.

When I think about it now, it does smell a bit less yeasty, but I can't be sure. Like I said, I'm fairly rough and ready with it (having learned it is indestructible) and just get on with feeding it after use and putting it back in the fridge - which equates to feeding roughly every 2-3 days, as I make loaves.

As far as when I got home, I didn't do anything different other than feed it immediately before making a loaf - dumped out half, added mostly white and a bit of rye and the right amount of water. I then put it in the fridge until the next day, when I made a loaf and then fed the same way again.

Come to think of it, the first loaf after returning did have a huge oven spring, but had a slight structure collapse in that there was a big single hole running below the top crust - so not a perfect loaf. Since then, including this morning first and second proves have been fine, but slower and there has been no oven spring, at all. This is the really perplexing bit.

Is this normal? I've experienced started slow down before after travelling but can't remember no over spring. Perhaps I'm now just a more attentive baker...? :-)

Many thanks in advance.

scottl's picture

Hello again - regarding my last responses to your helpful answer: I'm beginning to think there is a real problem. I've actually started really extending the proving times (both first - 12 hours, and second - 12 hours in banneton in fridge) and the rise is really not happening much at all. Enough, but not like before. And there is virtually NO oven spring anymore.

You mention not adding enough old to new in your response. But I didn't really start a new starter as much as feed the old one. So at no time has there been less than half the original starter, which is usually at least 500grams worth.

The starter also looks and smells fine, so I'm at a loss. As I've said, I've gone away and left the starter to few feedings before - some times much longer periods than this, and it has never resulted in this situation.