The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Good Morning Mikey! The Starter Says "Hello!"

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Good Morning Mikey! The Starter Says "Hello!"

Last weekend I taught a class on sourdough quickbreads, so I needed lots of starter. So, I mixed up less than half a bucket full as I went to bed. I like to be careful, so I set a half sheet pan under the bucket.


Then morning came. The sourdough faeries had paid an energetic visit. Here's what I found:


In case that wasn't enough to delight you, here's a closer picture...


Yeah, it had hit the bags of sugar and flour, as well as the boxes of chocolate I'd set out for class. Luckily, none of the bags or boxes were ruined. Cleanup took about half an hour, which made the early morning class prep run a bit longer than expected.


My wife has suggested that maybe the bucket should have been in a sink instead. I think that was a good call on her part.


See, even a self-annointed "expert" can have off days. I hope you feel better about your last kitchen foobar.




proth5's picture

We twinkle below...

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Given the pics, maybe the second line should have been,


"We tinkle below"




proth5's picture

Engage in punning like that.

You are - the master...:>)

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

That'd be my dad. Or Chick Robinowe, a baker in Monument, Colorado. Or Stan Kegel who runs a dozen humor lists and has won the O'Henry Pun Off.... nah, I'm just a duffer.




dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Mike.

Next time, hide the sugar from the starter. This looks like goal-directed behavior to me.


Janedo's picture

"See, even a self-annointed "expert" can have off days."

I'd say it was on "on" day. The poor thing was just doing as told!

What a mess! :-)


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Leave it up to a sage to come up with another useful idea for sourdough!  I especially like the creative guise making the whole experiment look like an accident.  How clever!  (The cookie sheet was the give away!)   That's a lot of muffins!

Mini O

Eli's picture

You didn't need a bucket with a could just walk.

MaryinHammondsport's picture

Mike, now that warm weather is here, my husband likes to sleep on the lower level of this house, and the stairs lead down from the kitchen.

He says that after seeing that picture he is going to have nightmares about my starter flowing down the stairs and drowning him.


Oldcampcook's picture


I can't believe you are feeding your starter Old Roy with all the corn and soy!

I am soooooo glad to see that someone else has gone through that.  I was fortunate enough to get up early before Judy did and got MY mess cleaned up. 

I, too, took pictures, but I didn't share with as many people as you did!

And I did learn to leave my container in the sink.  Makes clean up a whole lot easier!


Rosalie's picture

And there are some of us out here who struggle to get our starters moving.


plevee12's picture

I had a similar experience when I put a large bowl of dough into the fridge to bulk ferment overnight. Unfortunately I didn't quite close the door & the bowl was next to the fridge light. It filled every shelf, drawer, nook & cranny. Took hours to clean up!

LindyD's picture

Mess en place! :-)

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I sure do wish I'd thought of that title!  It is beautiful!




ehanner's picture

That reminds me,
of the first time I baked in a remote kitchen for 200 people. Mike had helped me with a plan to transport a large poolish during a 8-9 hour drive to Upper Michigan so I could be baking shortly after arrival. I needed to start with 2-1/2 gallons in a plastic bucket which I kept a close eye on in the back of my van. It was nearing the top as I pulled in the drive. That was a close one. Living on the edge.


LindyD's picture

It was the first thing that came to mind, Mike. After I stopped laughing.

Thanks for sharing; I now feel better about some of my own kitchen disasters.


dave1971us's picture

This is like starter porn.

Here I sit trying to coax a few bubbles from my first starter hoping it's alive and I happen upon this pic.

What I wouldn't give...


Give us this day our daily bread--or maybe just some starter

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery



That's why I so strongly encourage sourdough beginners to get a known good starter. Columbus didn't know where he was going. He didn't know where he was when he got there. And he didn't know where he'd been when he got back.


It's easier to get somewhere if you know where you're going. Every time I say this, someone chimes in, "any idiot can make a starter!" No, I get the emails at sourdoughhome from people who are far from idiots who use instructions they found somewhere else on the Internet or in a book and who can not start their own starter.


Once you know what a good starter looks like, smells like, tastes like, and how it works it becomes a lot easier to start one on your own.


If you have a local friend who bakes sourdough, get a starter from them. If that doesn't work out....

The Friends Of Carl are a great place to get a great starter for the cost of a stamped selg-addressed envelope. Putting a few bucks in your letter to them to cover their expenses would be a nice thing to do. It's a great starter.


Other sources - King Arthur has a New England starter that is decent, Sourdoughs International has a number of starters and all I've tried have been good. I haven't tried it, but I've heard good things about Mr. Baker's San Francisco Sourdough Starter.


I don't suggest the San Francisco Gold Rush Starter. Among it's problems is that by the time it reaches the store shelves, it's pretty old and not terribly stable. Similarly, I don't suggest buying a Sourdough Jack starter off of eBay - they haven't been in business for well over a decade.


If you just can't bring your yourself to get a starter from a friend or buy one, you can try the instructions on my site at I get happy emails from people who use my instuctions, so if you haven't tried my instructions, you might do so.




dave1971us's picture


Thanks for the info. There's so many sites and such entropy of information. I'm really quite frustrated. I've been baking bread since i was ten years old...and I've been baking Pain Poilane (pain de campagne) since I was when I can't get this little bowl of starter to makes my blood boil.

I did find your site quite informative. thank you.

Here's the problem..I think...i used some Carl's starter that was about 2 years old.

I think it was dead.

I'm gonna get some more. and start over again.

Do you know of any sites that show what a starter should look like at the various stages?



ps..sorry for the off topic posting..

give us this day our daily bread --or maybe just some starter

KosherBaker's picture

Hi David.

It almost sounds like you are starting a starter with all white flour. Are you? In my thread "Diary of a Starter" in this very forum I have  few shots of my starter at various stages of its life. Basically, the first three days a white bubbly foam will form on top, accompanied by a very strong smell. The bubbles will be few and small on day one, and get larger the following days. The smell will grow stronger as well. The layer of bubbles will also get thicker on top, like a head on a beer. :)

I started my starter from whole wheat rye, and the first three days fed it whole wheat rye. On day 4 I switched to the flour that my starter was going to be designated for. So on day four, as Mike so rightfully teaches, you have to start twice a day feedings at 12 hour intervals. On day four the rise will be about 50%, and on day 5 the starter should double in size, unless of course it is way too liquid.

I'd recommend that you read up a little bit from this forum, and then start a thread for your starter, so people like Mike and other sourdough gurus around here can help you. :) Now that you've discovered this site, you can't fail. The nicest and most knowledgeable people here.

Good Luck.


dave1971us's picture

Many Many thanks.

I did start with white flour feeding once every 24 hours.(i used 1 T starter to 1c water, 1.5c flour)

Now we are at day 5. I switched to wheat and am feeding twice a day.

will start different thread.

thanks again.


give us this day our daily bread--or maybe just some starter

Marni's picture

I remember an old horror movie called "The Blob".  It couldn't be stopped- kept growing and growing consuming all in its way...