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potato flake starter / poor 2nd rise

K Dennehy's picture
K Dennehy

potato flake starter / poor 2nd rise


My bread, with a potato flake starter will barely rise to the height of the loaf pan on the 2nd rise.

I have had a  potato flake starter that I have used with great success for the last 20 years.  Some months ago, out of the blue it began to smell like acetone and the loaves tasted terrible. Sadly, I had to get rid of it!

Now I'm trying to start a new starter (3/4 c sugar, 3T potato flakes, 1 c warm water, 1 T yeast), letting it sit on the countertop all day, refrigerating it for a few days, then feeding  the aforementioned recipe minus the yeast.  It bubbled and did everything wonderfully, but when I made the bread using 1 c of the starter, the first rise was perfect, but once kneaded and formed into loaves for the second rise, they barely rose at all.  I have tried several times now (restarting the starter) and keep getting the same results.  This last time i restarted the starter, even the starter itself barely bubbled after being fed. I am perplexed! 

Any thoughts as to what I'm doing wrong???



pmccool's picture

Obviously, that's not the case.  How about some more details, please?  The complete recipe and process, temperatures, times, and other useful information.  That will give people an opportunity to help diagnose the problem. 

What might be easier for you to do, since you are using commercially produced yeast anyway, is to start a poolish or sponge for each batch of bread.  One, you cut way down on your sugar intake.  Two, there's no on-going maintenance issues.  Three, you can use or not use potato flakes as you choose.  Four, the bread will still taste great.


K Dennehy's picture
K Dennehy

The potato flake starter is a form of sourdough starter.  I only used the yeast for the initial startup.  After that I never needed to add yeast again.

You asked about times and temperatures.  Well, I created the starter (using the yeast as a one time event).  I then let it sit in my oven with the light on for 3 days.  Next I placed it it the fridge for three days.  After that, I took it out of the fridge, fed it with 3/4 c sugar, 3 T potato flakes and 1 c warm water and let it sit on the counter for 6 hours or so.  It bubbled nicely.  I then used 1 cup of the starter for my bread, returning the rest to the fridge.  I got a perfect first rise in the bowl.  Next I punched it down, kneaded it and shaped it into loaves, and placed them in the oven with the light on to rise.  The first time they rose midway up the loaf pan and stopped.  The second time they rose just barely to the top but then fell.

In the 20 years I've been working with a potato flake starter, I've never had this happen.

dabrownman's picture

because the pH is too acidic and they die off to be replaced by natural yeast that can live in high acid environments.  The commercial yeast is just getting in the way.

dabrownman's picture

lately, one a cooked and one a raw potato starter and one that is actually started with cornmeal (witch yeast) but is fed potato like the other 2.   None had potato flakes or commercial yeast in them though.  With the yeast isn't it a pota commercial yeast poolish rather than a starter?

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Wow, that's really interesting. I'm very surprised to learn that something made with sugar and potato flakes will rise bread, actually. I would think the beasties that feed on sugar and potatoes would be quite different than the beasties that feed on flour. I know I can't really use milk kefir grains to make water (or juice) kefir because of that reason (they don't eat the same stuff, and you have to wait a long time for the right kind of beasties to take over the brew). Have you ever tried feeding your starter with flour, potato flakes and water instead of the sugar?

julieabird's picture

This comment is specifically for the original poster - KDENNEHY

I was wondering if you were able to resolve the problem with your starter?  I am dealing with the same problem - I was working with a starter for years then lost it due to my negligence and now trying to start fresh and having difficulty achieving an active enough starter to make it through the second rise.  Hope you will be able to see this comment!  Don't know how to reach you directly.  Julie 

WJSelf5022's picture

I have been having exactly the same problem for almost a year.  I have made 3 new starters, as I have been unable to find someone local to share a starter with me.  Sometimes, but not always, I can get a fairly good first rise, but I have to proof it at a higher heat than recommended to get it to double.  I cannot get the second proofing to double in the loaf pans, period!

Mike Wurlitzer's picture
Mike Wurlitzer

For what seems a very active starter, and like others, the first rise is fantastic and so good I had to keep it out of my 77F proofing box in order to allow the bulk ferment to occur overnight. {first time it almost tripled in 6 hours]

Approx 68F in the kitchen.  Easily doubles in 8 to 9 hours but, again, like others seems to die after shaping and put in the pan.  Creation was 1 cup water, 3tbls Sugar, 3 tbls Potato Flakes, 1 tbls yeast.

Every 5 days it is fed with 1 cup water, 3tbls sugar, 3tbls potato flakes and NO additional yeast.

Even when stored in the fridge, between feedings, this is a very active starter but seems only good for the initial rise. Hate to give up on it as the bread is very tasty but could greatly benefit from more final rise.

Also, and very important to me, is the 5 day cycle fits perfectly in my baking schedule and I don't  have to discard anything, Just take a cup out and replace it with the next feeding.