The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Belated Thank You and an Oops

cpmart's picture

Belated Thank You and an Oops

I have been lurking and learning for about a year around here.  I finally decided it was time to post something!

With your help (and I say "your" because I've read so many posts, and picked up so many tidbits and hints that I couldn't possibly remember the source of them all) I have finally succeeded in starting, maintaining and more importantly using a sourdough starter culture.  

I was trying Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough (as a native daughter, it was a matter of regional pride and duty) and wasn't having much success (tight crumb, poor ovenspring, slashes didn't open nicely).  So I had to find contentment with a more plain-jane type of sourdough recipe.  Put the starter in hypersleep for a few months (fridge), while I continued making my weekly family loaves.  

Thawed and revived the starter a few weeks ago, and lo and behold it seemed more vigorous than ever!  Re-tried the VT Sourdough and found...success!  I loved the way it looked, sounded (it was singing), smelled and tasted!  Even took some pictures (see below). Ok, the crumb could have been a little more open, but whaddya gonna do).  We all promptly ate it and enjoyed it.  Maintained the starter a couple of weeks at room temperature before I could try a repeat.

Repeated the recipe, and could see by the oven spring, it looked like we were in for the same treat!  Slashes opening, nice coloration, big oven spring, yipee!  I turned around to feed my set aside starter while the bread was baking and OH NO!  I used all the starter.  All The Starter!  The starter that was finally working really really well!  I tell you, it almost ruined my supper of roasted garlic-spread, olive oil-dipped, homemade Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough.  Almost.

So hear I sit, with a jar on the counter containing 50 gm of organic dark rye plus 50 gm slightly warmed britta water.  Ah ye strong starter, we hardly knew ye.

Please tell me, someone, somewhere on The Fresh Loaf has baked all their starter.
Pride Goeth Before the Fall

AnnieT's picture

First of all I have to say your loaves look fantastic, and I can't see anything wrong with the crumb. Maybe you are being too hard on yourself? As to the oops, I know you will hear from many members that the scrapings on the jar are enough to save your starter - just add water and flour. Oh, I am so jealous of your "ears"! Isn't the singing crust enough to make you dance and sing? Welcome to the site and happy baking, A.

nbicomputers's picture

the bread looks great  as for the starter

all is not lost just take a small amount of water no more than a half cupe 4 oz to the jar put a lid on it and shake it up to disovel what is left in the jar.  dont use warm water.

then add 2 to 4 oz of flour make it soft so the little yeast left will not have to work very hard your not looking for this to rase just multply

wait about 24 hours before adding more flour and water

maybe abother 4 oz of water and flour and still keep it soft

after another day you should be ok and should be ready to add enough flour to make is as stiff as it was.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

cpmart's picture

Thanks for the kind words about the bread!
Unfortunately, my kitchen routine is this: The day before I bake, I split the starter into 2 jars, a small jar that I feed to keep going,  and a large jar that I feed, and then feed again within 8 hours to use for baking.

This time, I never split it into 2 jars the day before, I only put some in a large jar to use for baking.  So visually I used all the starter in the large jar, like I always do, and when I turned to feed what was left in the small jar...well, there was no small jar.

My kitchen efficiency also really failed me too, because since I noticed this while the bread was baking, the large jar with bits of starter smeared on the inside was already washed and waiting for the next time.

So I sit in a holding pattern, hovering over a jar of rye flour mixed with water, and hoping for the best.  

Oh, and Norm, thanks for the stories, I really laughed about the owner and the lemon meringue pies!

nbicomputers's picture

the key word is time

dont rush this give it a day or two if there was even as little as a teaspoon left in the jar it just might come back to life if you have to start over add a littli bit of onion to increas the acidity

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

weavershouse's picture

Too bad about the starter. I haven't done that yet but who knows what tomorrow will bring.


Your bread is beautiful and looks delicious. I think the crumb is great like Annie said. If it tasted good (and I bet it did) who's going to complain about the holes. Really nice job.                                  weavershouse

gingergal7's picture

First, your loaves look marvellous!  The starter? Ummmm......well, yes. I confess to having done the same thing. ***sigh***

I claim the 5th - since I am a newbie, and although extremely experienced in cakes & cake decoration & cookies, etc (I had a business), bread had not yet made its claim upon my soul.

Until..... I found this site. I am totally addicted. Completely off my nut, baking bread almost every day, whether we need it or not. (Help, I'm bread-baking & can't get up & away from my kitchen!  ;)  )

I SOOOOOO enjoy all the posts, every one of them. I am absorbibg knowledge at the speed of light & putting it in to practice.

Bread & buns & Danish, OH MY!

Thanks to everyone - you are FABULOUS!!!!!!


KipperCat's picture

Hi Chris.  Your loaves look scrumptious.  I guess you could say that I baked all my starter -  in a kitchen window! The window was shaded all summer long, and I regularly kept my starter there if not in the fridge. Once the sun's rays got lower in the winter sky, it was a death trap for my poor starter.

Good for you - starting another one right away.