The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough woes

MVB's picture
MVB

Sourdough woes

Hi Everyone!


 


For the past few weeks I've been trying to cultivate a sourdough starter and I've run into a bit of a rut.  I'm using Glezer's firm starter recipe out of Artisan Baking.  I've been feeding the starter regularly as per her instructions.  I have it in a warm environment between 78 and 82 degrees.  My problem is that I can get it to triple within about 12 hours or so, but I can't seem to get it to the point of quadrupling within 8 hours, which seems to be the goal.  We've been at it now for 12 days and I can't seem to get it to rise high enough or fast enough.  Also, it seems that if I just add the white bread flour it doesn't rise nearly as well as if I add the bread flour mixed with about a tablespoon of dark rye flour (total weight of flour remains at 90 gr.).   The bread flour I am using is organic hard red spring wheat - 12% protein.  When I feed the beast it looks healthy, nice webbing, lots of bubbles, sticky texture.   Any thoughts on how I can get this starter to perk up?


 


Cheers!


 


MVB

Eli's picture
Eli

MVB,


It sounds as if your starter is healthy. Have you tried making a loaf of bread? As for the differences in flour. The bread flour is going to have more strength than the AP so it will perform better. I quit feeding my starters AP because of that reason, unless I am in a pinch.


Let us know how it goes. I think you are doing fine.


Eli


 


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com

Soundman's picture
Soundman

MVB, I'm with Eli, your starter sounds like it's made the big leagues. Let 'er rip!


"Any thoughts on how I can get this starter to perk up?"


If it's tripling then never mind the quadrupling. The growth of the starter after feeding is about yeastly activity. Tripling means your yeast are working plenty well enough to leaven bread. If your starter is a new one, you may not get much sour flavor the first couple of bakes, but that'll come with a little maturity.


Edit: whole rye flour, or whole wheat flour, will help develop a more sour flavor as well as make your starter more active. There are more wild yeast to be found in whole grain flours than in refined flour. Removing the bran takes away some of these friendly creatures.


To my knowledge, the yeast don't eat the protein in the flour, so I'm not sure you get any more bang for your buck with Bread Flour over AP. (But, if the truth be told, I've never heard anyone advocate using pastry flour, which is higher in starch and lower in protein.)


Let us see some pix of your results? Good luck!


Soundman (David)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I agree!  Go Bake!  Make some more starter and get going!


Don't be bothered by a little less rise in the starter. 


I have used low protein flour for starters and they weren't much for rising.  I liked it that way, I can use smaller containers without worry of a mess.  Once in a loaf, the starter is introduced to bread flour and other food, when the gluten is developed and there is all that room to expand, it will perform.   AP works just fine.


Mini


 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Hi. I have a starter made using maggie Gleezer's instructions in "Blessing of Bread" - it is about 6 years old now and I've never had it quadruple. But it makes ace bread. Also, it lasts weeks and weeks in the fridge just left to its own devices and comes back to life as soon as it is fed! 


 


My advice is - stop waiting for the (mythical??) quadrupling and just bake!


 


Good luck,


 


Andrew

ema2two's picture
ema2two

I've also beeing working with starters aiming for sourdough and rye breads.


I got a starter that definitely was active from a friend who was using it. I used it right after I got it to make a sourdough from Glezer's blessing of bread which came out nicely.   


I fed some on my counter according to Glezer's instructions in Blessing of Bread.  It gets puffy and goey, but does not seem to triple or quadruple in volume.  I'm not even sure it is doubling in volume.  I have it in a quart jar and it doesn't even cover the bottom of the jar after feeding (10 gm starter, 30 gm water, 50 gram bread flour). 


I did wonder if there was a problem with the way I feed it, as it is very goey and I couldn't dissolve the 10 gm of starter in the warm water when I feed it.  I don't get a homogenous solution of dilute starter.  I just hadn't had time to come here and ask that question.  Any suggestions?  Or just mush it up in the water and have chunks of starter floating in the water before adding the flour and mix it all well?


Since I had begun to think I was doing something wrong, I reread Glezer's chapter on sourdough starter, in preparation of starting over from scratch, and when she talked about how hard the starter is to work with because it gets so goey, I figured maybe it was OK after all, as that describes my starter.


I decided to just give it a try and make her corn rye with it, and both times the starter mixed with the rye flour for the first build of the rye sour has done absolutely nothing.  Just stayed as a firm ball of dough no different after 8-12 hours than it was when I put it in.  Though during that same cycle, my starter, fed with Bread flour and sitting next to it in the same temperature environment again became sticky, and goey and got somewhat puffed up.


Sggestions?  Tips?

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Hi. I have tried the 10g, 30g 50g but I find it works better with 20g of starter. I'd try a smaller container too - it is easier to see if it is expanding if it occupies a bigger proportion of the container!


 


Also, I leave it overnight - so it has really got going - then add 100 water and 100 flour, mix cover and leave overnight again. This usually produces a frothy, wet batter, which is then the basis for the dough. But I expect almost everyone here has developed a method which works for them!


 


What sort of flour are you using? It may be worth feeding it with an organic rye flour to sort of "kick start" it?


 


Andrew

ema2two's picture
ema2two

Sorry to be dense, Andrew, but I want to check and see if I understand you:


You've tried 10 g stiff starter, 30 g water, 50 gm flour and find it works better with 20 g stiff starter and still using 30 gm water and 50 gm flour or different amounts of water and flour?


And when you say you leave it overnight, do you mean you feed it once every 24 hours rather than every 12?


I'm sure I will eventually find success, especially with this forum as a way to get advice from more experienced bakers--thanks to Floyd for making it and to everyone who helps one another succeed in their baking efforts.


As for what flour I'm using.  I was feeding it KA Bread Flour.


I have a second starter going, which is 100% hydration fed only with Hogson Mills whole grain rye flour.  It is the consistency of very wet beach sand when first refreshed, but fills with tiny air bubbles and gets at least 3-4x the original volume.  I have about 200 gm of starter, discard 100 gm (going to try the 1-2-3 sourdough with it today instead of pitching it) and then add 50 gm water and 50 gm rye flour.  I'm trying to remember if I started this from rye flour and water alone or 'cheated' and included 1/8 tsp of instant dry yeast.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

 Hi emaztwo.


 


Yes, I use 20g starter, 30g water and 50g flour. If I'm keeping this long term, then I cover it and put in the fridge after abut an hour or two, when it can stay there happily, unfed, until I next need it. I certainly don't feed on a daily or even weekly basis - I find it zings back to life when needed and fed at that stage.  Saves a lot of wasted flour!


 


But if it is to use to bake, then I'd leave it on the counter overnight,  then next morning add 100g flour, 100g water, mix well and cover, then leave 24 hours before adding the final dough ingredients. I find that this produces a really vigourous dough and a full flavoured bread.


 


It's just the way my baking has evolved over the years, but it works for me!


 


Andrew

MVB's picture
MVB

Hi Everyone,


 


Thanks for your advice regarding my sourdough starter.  I did take the plunge and baked with it last night with mixed success.  I did the Columbia loaf out of Glezer's book.  Perhaps a bit ambitious, but the way I see it...go big or go home!


 


The dough for that bread seems to be a bit on the wet side and unfortunately one of my boules stuck to my makeshift banneton and made a big splat onto the parchment paper.  Sadly, it could not be saved and ended up in the compost.  On the bright side, boule number two was more forgiving and baked up very nicely.  My husband and I feasted on it last night...it had a very nice crumb, nice chewy texture and the barley malt gave it a really great flavour.  I'm inspired!  Tomorrow I will try Thom Leonard's country loaf!


 


Cheers!


 


MVB

ema2two's picture
ema2two

Andrew--I took your advice and fed the starter last night, 20 gm starter, 30 mg water, 50 gm KA Bread Flour.  I put it in a 1 cup glass measuring cup, which has a large amount of cup above the 8 oz line.  It was between the 1/4 and 1/3 cup mark after refreshing.  It didn't seem to have increased much this morning, but I didn't feed it (I had been doing twice daily feedings).  When I got home from work, it was over the 1 cup mark!  So it is tripple-quadrupling in 24 hours.  Glezer says a good starter should do that in 8 hours.  Is she being conservative?


I won't ask you if this will leaven bread, as I will find out soon.  I took the discard from my refreshing the starter tonight, as well as the discrad from refreshing my 100% hydration rye starter (which I know is very active, and used earlier this week for my first attempt at 1-2-3 sourdough, which was not bad), and made 1-2-3 sourdough with it.  I used a combination of white whole wheat and KA bread flour.  Dough seemed nice.  It's in a brotform now.  I am going to let it ferment slowly overnight in the fridge, and then depending on how much time and energy I have, will either bake it a s a large round loaf, or will make 2 oz rolls with it.


I'll let you know how it comes out.  Thanks again for everyone's help.


Thanks for

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


"It's in a brotform now.  I am going to let it ferment slowly overnight in the fridge..."



A thought crossed my mind when reading... and that is: you might have to let the dough warm up,  add a few folds and eventually reshape the loaf before letting it rise in the brotform.  If it turned into a blob overnight, that is what you'll have to do.  So don't panic if it happens, it would just be natural.


Mini



 


ema2two's picture
ema2two

Thanks for the warning MiniO.  I'll update after I get it going and bake today.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

If you continue with feeding it on a 24 hourly basis, I am sure it will have the potential to triple in 8 hours or so - but if the kitchen is cold (and most are this winter)  then that is very optimistic. 


 


I just don't bother measuring it like that as the routine I have come to use fits me well - and when the final dough is mixed, it reacts fairly quickly and raises a loaf very successfully.


 


Good luck with it! I'm keen to know how it has worked for you!


 


Andrew