Sour-dough starter lacks 'oomph'
I've been baking yeast-bread for years, and people like it (some too much).
I thought I'd try my hand at sour-dough, so I've been cultivating my pot of organic flour/water/air-borne yeast. Result: nice bubbly mixture, smells a bit beery, looks just the job. (Cool climate here in London, so I keep the starter out of the fridge all the time).
Tried a simple-looking loaf recipe (bread flour, starter, honey, warm water, salt), and the resultant dough felt lovely - not too 'cloggy', light, but still elastic.
But the rise! Left it in a warmish kitchen for hours and hours, and it did rise a little, but nothing like the rise I get from yeast-bread.
Cooked it, thinking it might rise a bit more in the loaf-tin (it did, a little), and the end product looked good, tasted very much like sour-dough (an acquired taste), but had only risen like a cake, i.e. not very much.
Am I expecting too much rising? Or am I doing something obviously wrong (quite likely)?
How old is it? How did you make it? Do you know it's ready for certain? etc.
Welcome. From another Londoner.
Well, I suppose I started it about 2-3 months ago. Made with organic stoneground wholemeal flour, plus filtered water at 28 degrees C. Topped up with same flour, same temperature water, every day or two (in about 150g total, out the same).
How do I know it's ready? More difficult question. I suppose 'cos it's bubbly, beery-smelling, and rises up the side of the glass container it is in. (Not sure how else I would know!)
Thanks for the interest, too.
for 2-3 months then I think we can safely assume it's ready. I was thinking it's only been a week or two.
How much starter do you keep and how much fresh flour and water do you feed it? So what's the maintenance schedule?
As I said, it's sometimes every other day, sometimes daily. I take out about 200-250g of starter and discard it, then add 50-50 new flour and warm water (so 100g flour, 100g water), and stir it well.
Doesn't seem to matter whether it's the daily change or two-daily, the starter still responds by bubbling away after a few hours.
Keep your main starter in the fridge for now so you won't be slave to two starters. Take off 10g starter and feed as follows...
10g starter + 40g warm water + 50g flour (40g bread flour + 10g whole wheat or whole rye).
Don't feed again till it has risen and peaked. Then repeat as above.
Try this over the next few days and aim for a weekend bake. Then try a simple, low-ish hydration bread flour sourdough recipe. Like this one...
Okay, I'll have a go.
Just one thing. Can you define/describe 'risen and peaked'?
This is a slightly lower hydration starter and it should rise better. Once it has risen to it's peak and just begins to fall then feed again. Holes should begin to appear on top of the starter. It'll smell good too. It might dome and then flatten out when it's peaked.
Try to use boiled tap water which has been cooled.
These better feeds and allowing it to peak each time should help increase its strength.
Hi Abe or anyone, I made a Levain from 40g of 100% hydration starter, 150 g. water, 150 g flour yesterday morning to give to my son. It was bubbly, and passed the float test - it fermented at least 10 hours. He used 200 grams of it and just called me to tell me his dough is not rising well. He used 1000 g flour and 720g water. I’m so new at just making a starter - so I have no idea if what I did was wrong or what. Any advice out there?
And the starter floats.
When you say he used 1000g flour + 720g water do you mean including the starter?
Is the recipe?
Or is the recipe?
What is the method he's using? How warm is it where he is? How long has it been?
He added 1tbsp + 1 tsp salt, did a stretch and fold for 3 hours, put in fridge to proof, said it did nothing, took it out and no rise, did another proof (?) and he just told me he has now added yeast, so I guess that ship has sailed. His house is about 72 degrees. What do you think went wrong?
That now I am hesitant to keep a starter going. Yikes!
Which was 1000g flour + 720g water to do so you should Pre-Ferment some of the flour and then when adding the starter back in you need to remember that part of the recipe has become the starter. So if you wanted this recipe converted to a sourdough then I'd have gone with the first one.
Thank you. I’ll pass that information on to him. That is what I was worried about.
... in comparison to our fellow bakers, but what I find helps is to place elastic bands around your SD starter jar: the first level with your initial mixture before it starts rising, the second where it may get to when doubled, and the third where it may get to when trebled in volume.
Then record the time each marker band is reached. Alternatively place the second and third bands wherever the starter has risen to at times convenient to you.
This should indicate activity, and maybe also mark where/when it peaks, which will reveal when it finally starts to deflate with the help of gravity!
Thanks lechem, Portus, I'm going to try the suggestion, and I'll report back when all complete.
I have been waiting ofr 8 months to get by kitchen 84 F instead of 100 F. 84 F s what SD likes best. It is very slow if it is in t he 60's in the kitchen I have waited 10 hours or more for it to proof at 64 F but final proof at 84 F is 2 hours. Temperature is the most important thing to remember. When it it dead of winter here and the kitchen is 68 F I use a heating pad to make it 84 F Magically. Learning to make SD in all seasons takes a few seasons but it is well worth it if you like sour bread. Most people do not! and why SD remains a cult thing here and there. It takes longer and more skill to make a loaf ....that most people don't like unti they do ....and then nothing else will do:-)
Happy SD baking
Yes, dabrownma, you do have trouble with temperatures - but dabrownma, what about your skies? What about that glorious blue of the daytime, what about all those STARS in the nighttime? In London, you can COUNT the stars on a clear night - about a dozen or so, if you're lucky! I haven't seen the Milky Way for 30 or 40 years.
Anyway, all that aside, thanks for your comments. Maybe our English kitchens are just too cold for decent sourdough starters - 84? A rare sight on our thermometers!
Good luck with your bread (and just look up if you get disheartened)...
Of blue skies, I am in los angeles where we hardly see a cloud and after 20-30 years of that you miss cool weather and rain. When its clear and dry all the time you go crazy especially if you grew up elsewhere (as in my case) and for some reason native californians freak out if anything more than drizzle comes down. Speaking of the milky way - in the southern hemisphere where I grew up, on a clear night it's spectacular !
It's the changing (for the worse) that bothers me, kendalm. When I was a boy, living in another London suburb, I watched the Milky Way, and was fascinated and awed. Now, kids all over London are denied that awesome (not a word I use often) sight, and that saddens me. I can see what you mean about LA - California sounds nice, but I think the big cities wouid drive me completely bonkers...
... today I fortuitously read an article in a local magazine about Dark Sky Sanctuaries here in southern Africa, and the role of the International Dark Sky Association in combatting light pollution.
I was fascinated to learn about the impact bright light has on nature - moths become disoriented and head for city lights rather than pollinating flowers, as are sea turtle hatchlings in Florida that make for the shore rather than the moonlit ocean.
The website www.darksky.org may interest Loafing stargazers (especially dabrownman, as a couple of IDA Board members are from Arizona ;-)), which certainly brings new meaning to The Dark Continent(s)!
If I've got to die (which I'm told is likely) I'd like to go staring into the infinity of space.
Right-ho, reporting back.
Lechem: followed your instructions re. the white flour starter, and then did the Pain Naturel recipe, with the tiniest modification (put a bit of extra flour in the mix early on when it seemed more like slurry than dough).
Result: Excellent. Photographs below to prove it. A bit over-crusty, but that was probably me using too high a temperature (plus I hadn't cooked with the steam/water before). Tastes 'right', i.e. much more chew than conventional white bread, but maybe not sour-doughy enough for me - my previous bakes had used rye flour starters, and a lot more of them (proportionate to the flour).
So I shall push on, basing my next loaves firmly around your instructions, but maybe modifying a bit in terms of rye-flour starter etc.
But essentially, good result, and thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction.
Tried posting a photo, couldn't manage it, so here is a Dropbox link instead.
First of all very nice indeed. A bread you like is a successful bake. One could have the loftiest loaf with a perfect crumb but if it doesn't taste nice then it mounts to nothing. Looks good from where I'm sitting and from what I hear it tastes good too. Nice!
Temperatures have dropped. What a great time to venture into sourdough (detect sarcasm). I have noticed a big slowing down from my starter builds to dough fermentation. Trying to improvise in getting around this but unless one does then one should, even more so, watch the dough and not the clock. Something to be aware of! Getting a feel for when the dough is ready will be a huge step and don't worry if your starter/dough seems! sluggish. Adapt!