The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My poor baby! please help?

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

My poor baby! please help?

So, I got incredibly sick of really boring tasting bread, and decided that I would do something I've wanted to for a while, and make a wild yeast starter.  I'm... 4 days in, I think, and my baby is now having troubles.  I started with equal amounts of rye, whole wheat and unbleached white flour, and a few whole rye berries, and warm filtered water. I had bubbles in the first 24 hours, (and it was starting to smell a bit sour.) I've been feeding 1/3 cup of starter every 24 hours with 1/3 cup of white, unbleached, organic flour, 5 tsp of dark organic whole rye flour, and 1/3 cup of skin temp tap water. I rinse the jar, just so I don't get a bunch of dried junk on the walls and can see in, then I put it back in the jar, cover it with a dishtowel, and let it sit.  Its definately yeast in there, it smells like it. (ok, it smells kind of vile, like a yeast infection or something, but very very YEASTY) I've been feeding every 24 hours.  In terms of temp, its been fluctuating a lot. we've had days where its probably 85 or so, and then days when the house temp is probably closer to 65.  I'm not really sure how to keep the temp constant and warm. can't set it on top of the fridge because there is a cabinet there.

 so the problem is, its starting to die one me! or at least, its bubbling less. and it never really increases in size hardly at all.

does anyone have any suggustions? do I need to keep my baby warmer? how? do I need to feed it more often? something else? should I cap the jar instead of draping a towel over it?  Thanks :D

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I thought that about my all white starter, until I divided it up and made half white and half organic ww flour.  Now the ww one is ready to be made into bread, though it will have to be fed and kept in the fridge for a few days; we've an overabundance of bread at the moment.  The white one is still a couple of days away from being ready for anything.  I keep both mine on top of the fridge and the temperature has gone from about 70F to over 80F during the day, and at night, down to about 68F.  At first, I kept them covered with damp cheesecloth, but it was impossible to keep the cloth damp, so I cover them loosely with plastic wrap.  You could try just stirring them up between feedings; that might get it (or them) going again.  Mine didn't smell of anything for nearly 5 days.  I read somewhere that rye starters are really smelly and can get really sour really fast.

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

So, now the starter smells only mildly sour and yeasty (to me, it smells really yummy and perfect, instead of vile, but maybe it isn't yeasty and sour enough, I don't know.)  Its rising about... 1/8 or maybe 1/16th in 12 hours, and I'm still feeding it the same, 1/3 cup white flour, 1/3 cup water, 5 tsps rye flour, and 1/3 cup starter, rinse the jar, every 12 hours.  Should I be worried about it not rising? Its... about a week old. Does the starter need to be rising lots for it to make the bread rise properly or can a starter that doesn't rise much still make decent bread?  How can I encourage my baby to rise more? thanks :D

FlamesDancing 

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Keep it warmer--mid 70's to 80 degrees F is ideal. Also, you will get more rise if you thicken it up a bit (use more flour than water). Stir it frequently. I have found that in the early stages it is best not to feed that often because you are diluting the yeasts and thereby making it take longer to multiply and grow. Try leaving it alone until you see it bubble up and recede to a less active state before you feed it again.

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

hmmmm... I thought you were rather crazy to say feed it less since the recipe says every 12 hours, but when I checked it 36 hours after its last feeding, it had risen a fair bit! about half again as big!  I've been a bit frustrated at how to get it warmer though, I don't want to put it in the oven with the light on, because I just know someone will bake my starter and kill it that way. people are pretty bad about checking that sort of thing at my house. it is on top the fridge, but in a cabinent that isn't really warm. but maybe that means it just goes slower.

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

ok, so it definately had a hooch on it when I got home this afternoon ~43 hours after feeding, but it was still almost as risen.  Thank you for the advice, that seems to havebeen what it needed, feeding it less often! :D

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I have had many people who encountered the problem of feeding too much, too fast when starting a new starter. You see, until the yeast wakes up it doesn't need more food. If you keep adding food you are just diluting the organisms that you want to increase. Now that you have bubbles you will need to feed it, preferably twice daily, to keep it active. Always discard at least half of it before feeding. Keep it at room temperature for about another week, with regular feedings. When you see hooch, it needs to be fed. After a week it can be stored in the fridge between uses.

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

so, when I checked my starter this morning, about 14 hours after its last feeding, I wasn't expecting much. I was SHOCKED to find that it had more than doubled!!!! wow, was that the right advice lol.  It was bubbling before but then it became less active as time went on, til I fed it less often the once.  are you saying I should resume feeding it often right away or wait until it has a hooch? I'm confused. Thankyou for your advice though :D

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

If it has doubled it is ready to use for making some bread. Go ahead and give it a larger feeding now to increase the quantity for your recipe. Proof it for at least 8 hours after feeding before making your dough for the best performance. No, you don't need to wait for it to form hooch before you feed it. If the volume starts to recede, then it can be fed.

Have fun and get some bread baking!!

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

always trust SourDoLady. She started me on my way, is always courteous and kind..AND she knows what she is talking about! If you are looking for a scientific explanation, BWraith, Mike Avery are your point guys..good luck..let us know how you are doing..

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

I was just trying to decide on the perfect recipe to try my starter with, when I realized, its passover! no bread til sunday night. actually.... hmmmm maybe I'll prep it anyways. feed it up today, let it rise and retard tomarrow, bake it sunday..... oohhh I'm excited. anyone recomend their fave 100% hydration starter recipe? though its actually slightly below 100% close to though

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

If you can use eggs as leaveners in sponge cakes during Passover, why not the completely, home-grown, "natural" leavener of sourdough?  You're not using commercial yeast or baking powder or baking soda, are you?  Or am I missing the point, being Catholic?

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

your missing the point lol.  I don't know about useing eggs as leaveners in sponge cakes, you probably can with matzo meal, but not with flour.  The point is that the ancient isrealites didn't have time to let their bread rise before/while they escaped the egyptians, so to honor them, and remember them, we do not eat levened food for 8 days. (well, 7, but for some reason, outside of isreal we don't know the exact days of the holiday, so to prevent being wrong, we keep an extra day).  It would still be within the spirit, though not the letter, of jewish law, in my opinion, if you were to make a bread dough WITH levening, and then bake it before it had any time to rise, but not within the letter of the law as it is currently interpreted.  The letter of the law says that it must be blessed by a rabbi, and the grains musts be watched from being harvested to coming out of the oven, to be sure they do not get wet.  Once the flour touches water for matzo, you have 18 minutes before it must be out of the oven, fully cooked.  The theory is that any more, and the small amount of yeast in the flour and air could leven the bread. therefore, natural leven is also a no-no.

 

thanks, but I'll just enjoy and hate that last hour before I can eat it again. 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Didn't mean to step on any toes, but boy did I miss the point!  Forgive me, I forgot all about matzoh and I shouldn't have because there's tons of it in the supermarket.  I feel like a real dope now.  When my sister and I were catering we actually made a sponge cake for a seder too!

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

lol, no problem, I don't particularly get offended when people say such out of ignorance. I'm sorry if I sounded irritable, it was probably only in jealousy of bread eating people :P on the other hand, every time I turn down a peice of bread, I feel a connection to my God, so it works for me.  but anywho. you have lots of matzo where you are? wow.  I thought the matzo shortage was worldwide. then again, its still availible, just not at all the stores, and not all the usual brands, and much less of it.  some of the big stores (like safeway) actually sold out, thought don't know if they have it back.

 

on another note, my bread may have been significantly harmed by its long retardation in the fridge, since when I went to punch it down, there was little give, and thus, I assume, little air. we'll see. of course, in classic flamesdancing style, I am making my first sourdough loaf by the seat of my pants no recipe.  just an idea of what sort of taste I want, and an idea of how wet the dough should be. brilliant eh? lol, we'll see how it comes out. probably not as good as if I had found a recipe somewhere, but I didn't find one I liked, and I like flying by the seat of my pants, and I'll learn more this way, I hope. (I did write down what I did after) 

edh's picture
edh

Flamesdancing,

Thank you for your description of the traditions of Passover. I sort of knew the basic story, but was fascinated by the care taken to avoid accidental leavening; the whole avoidance of wetting the grain, and the time allowed from wetting to completion.

I love this site; I learn something new every time I sign on, and it's not always about bread!

Thanks,

edh

FlamesDancing's picture
FlamesDancing

your welcome edh, its all so complicated lol.  So, I made my first bread.  Oy Vey. I think next time, I will use a recipe.  The texture was divine, the flavors..... were desperate for some help of some sort.  lol.  they were muddled aed weak, no particular flavor shone through, and instead of complimenting eachother, they detracted from eachother. lol.

so, whats the one bread cookbook I should buy?  I'm a particular fan of books with lots of basic techniques and general information as well as specific recipes, and I'm quite the fan of more rustic loafs of all kinds, as well as sweet batards. any recomendations to buy this week before next weekend's bread making? 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

 You might be interested in Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread; Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs. It has numerous Jewish bread recipes, (sourdough, yeast and flatbreads) as well as some interesting history and info on the breads, the bakers, etc..

--------
Paul

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I recommend Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" for a basic beginner book that will also take you into more advanced breads. You won't be disappointed in this book!

knit1bake1's picture
knit1bake1

Re Passover/matzah/bread

 This is the first year I've actually missed bread during Passover. Giving up bread was difficult to imagine 9 days ago, as it is now a very big "staple" for me. Reinhart's struan and Gail Sher's wheatberry. I think one cause of matzah shortage is because many churches now hold symbolic seders, so more people are buying up those boxes.  I'm glad Passover's over; I'm just going down to feed the sourdough starter! I'm one of those whose new bread enthusiasm has been coupled with a weight gain, so I'm trying to find a way to "have my cake and eat it, too."  I was telling people at my sister's seder how amazingly satisfying good bread can be; I told several people how sad it is that most Americans have probably never had really good bread, bread so good that eating it makes one swoon. We on this list are very lucky.