The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbe here...Carl Griffith's Sourdough looks like thick/runny Milk

Candice's picture

Newbe here...Carl Griffith's Sourdough looks like thick/runny Milk

Help!  I just want a healthy sourdough bread that actually rises without using yeast! 

A couple weeks ago I decided to learn how to make my own sourdough because the "Sourdough Bread man" at the Farmers Market had to double his prices due to the Wheat/grain price doubling!

Unfortunately he is unwilling to share his starter or  knowledge of breadmaking!  :(

Anyway, here I am having started the starter suggested by the Sourdo Lady (2T Rye/2T OJ, while waiting for Carl Griffith's starter to come in the mail.

Well, I thought I was doing well with the Rye starter...until I lost the directions and kept adding 2T Rye/2T OJ for 7 days and then adding 1 cup Rye (grinded in my coffee grinder this whole time)and 1 cup water.  I missed the whole taking 1/4 cup out and dispenseing of the remaining starter, while adding unbleached white flour/water.

Well, the loaf barely rose (after 24 hours) and I don't think I know how to knead...  None the less, I baked it...and well needless to say it tasted like ground up orange peels!!!

Putting this aside, the starter from Carl Griffith came and I followed the directions...although I haven't seen any bubbles.  It looks like thick Milk, but smelled sour.  I thought if I left it kept it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter it would start bubbling, but now it just smells like apple cider??

 Also, I notice that ALL of his recipes call for YEAST!!  What's with that?? 

 PLEASE!  Someone help me at this point!!  I don't want to lose his starter too!  Especially since my Retsel Mil-rite grinder is in the mail to me (from Ebay $172) at this very moment!!

 BTW, I also did go back to the Rye starter, and kept 1/4 cup and started adding 1/4 cup white flour/water.  It looks and smells much better, although I have no idea what will actually happen if I use it.

 I humbly beg for crumbs at this point!

Candice the want to be baker! 

SourdoLady's picture

First of all, your starter must get bubbly and active before you can use it to make bread. If the starter isn't yet active, then your bread won't rise. Keep the starter warm (75 to 80 degrees F). Stir it often and don't over-feed until it gets good and active. If you are using city tap water, make sure your water isn't chlorinated with chloramines because that will be detrimental to your starter.

clettington's picture

I also have Carl Griffiths Sourdough. If you have read his entire brochure, you will find he mentions using cider vinegar on occasion, and on other occasions he mentioned using baking soda. Sour dough is naturally acidic - However, if your sourdough is allowed to sit a room temperature several days between bakings in a warm room (74 - 80 degrees F), it l can become quite acidic. Consider putting the starter in the fridge for a few days to cool it, then pull it out 2 days before you bake, feeding it 1 day before you bake. The cooler temperture of refridgerator will slow down the wild yeast, just as a warmer room temperature will speed it up. When the sourdough becomes quite acidic, the gluten in the dough breaks down so that the sourdough starter (otherwise called sponge) becomes quite a runny liquid with a strong smell. Another reason sour dough sponge may become quite acidic could be that your water is soft  due to natural mineral content. The softer the water you the more acidic the sourdough become, while the harder your water the less acidic the sourdough becomes. If you find you sourdough has become so acidic that it has a strong smell, with few bubbles, yet is at the required room tempertature, you can try adding a pinch of baking soda to the starter that Carl mentioned. Within a short time ,  you find the starter thickens as the gluten elasticity is restored and the starter becomes less acidic. It also, will likley bubble away, creating the required or necessary carbon dixoide gas which is given off as the wild yeast in the starter feeds on the carboydrates in the flour and sugar.    Likewise, if you water is very soft, you can add the baking soda to your water before adding it to the starter. On the other hand, if your sourdough is not acidic enough, it can also be flat. Insufficient acidity, can be because several reasons. First, your room temperature may be too cool. Remediate this by placing starter in a warmer area. 2) or your water may be too hard, so you can remediate this by adding cider vinegar.   Sourdough is fascinating stuff! I hope this has not confused you, but rather helped you. Questions:-

With regards to using yeast in recipes for sourdough, if the sourdough is quite acidic it will not rise, bakers sometimes rely on commercial yeast to give the wild yeast in the starter an extra boost. 


It is the  elastic quality of the gluten in the dough that will stretch to contain the carbon dioxide gas given off by the wild yeast. It is this elastic  quality of the gluten that will allow your bread to become light and fluffy.

Happy baking.

utahcpalady's picture

So, I started a thread about my starter not bubbling when I added the baking soda to my waffle batter.  So, the opinion is that my starter isn't acidic.  Now, it does make a nice loaf of soudough bread, not very sour but my 4 children don't like really sour flavor, so that isn't a problem. 

Back on point, you say there are 2 reasons it isn't acidic, I am guessing that since we keep our house fairly cool, the problem is that.  So, I don't really have a warmer place, I can give it a warm water bath.  Now that can be done 1-2xs per day.  Now is just doing that going to increase the acidity?  Seems unlikely to this tax accountant (consider the source)....


Candice's picture

Thanks sourdoLady for responding. 

I am using city water with a countertop filtering system, that seems to be doing the job. 

Also, your sourdough starter seemed to be responding quite nicely even though I missed the part about taking out 1/4 cup of starter on the 4th and discarding the rest, while adding 1/4 cup flour & 1/4 cup water to the 1/4 cup of starter that was kept.  Dispite my continuing to add 2T Rye/2T OJ for 7 days...and then more Rye...the starter bubbled the entire time.

Then I used the "Basic Sourdough Recipe" from John Ross, which required Proofing the Sponge by adding 1 cup white flour & 1 cup water and setting it aside overnight in a warm place.   It did say that the longer you set it out, the more sour flavor you will get...

Anyway the receipe calls for 2 cups of sponge, 3 cups of unbleached flour, 2 T unsalted butter, 4 tsp sugar, and 2 tsp salt.

It was quite sticky and I wasn't sure what to do with that, so I added some flour...since then I've watched Mike's video about sticky dough and leaving it for 45 minutes to rest and folding it...and repeating 2 more times this way.

I'm thinking that it was a combo of my not reducing the starter to 1/4 cup and to the long (overnight proof) as well as my not knowing how to knead sticky dough.

Now the question is as far as the Rye starter... Can I reduce the strong Orange Sour taste by starting again with what I have at day 4?  I took out 1/4 cup of the left over starter and have added 1/4 cup unbleached flour and 1/4 cup water for 2 days.  It looks whiter and smells great and has plenty of bubbles.  Would you just continue one more day and then use it for a bread?  Perhaps the one I finally found on your blog "My Faorite Basic Sourdough Loaf"?

AS far as Carl Griffiths starter: It has hooch, smells like apple cider, and looks like thick milk with NO bubbles.  Should I add 1 T Apple Cider "to give it a kick in the behind"?  

AND what about all of his recipes requiring the use of Yeast?  If I should ever get any bubbles from his starter, should I just skip the yeast in the recipes?

I truly do appreciate any specific feedback/directions at this I would like to use what I have if possible or even start over on the Rye starter if necessary.

Thanks again!



SourdoLady's picture

It sounds like the rye based starter is doing okay. How long since you started to activate the Carl's starter? Sometimes a dried starter can take 48 hours or so to start to show activity. How much flour/water did you feed it so far? Since it has never bubbled at all, the yeast has not woke up. Keep it warm and keep stirring it frequently until you see some activity. I wouldn't add any vinegar at this time. Wait and see what it does first. A tablespoon sounds like an awful lot of vinegar, too.

Yes, you can leave out the yeast in any sourdough bread recipe. I always do. It will take much longer to rise, however, so be expecting that (like several hours).