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Please Help my starter! I feel like I've tried everything with no luck!

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Please Help my starter! I feel like I've tried everything with no luck!

Hi all!

 

First, apologies. I know this forum gets a million posts just like this one every day but I truly do believe I have tried almost every trick in the book and am fresh out of ideas. I'm no stranger to baking bread regularly with commercial yeast but this is my first foray into sourdough.

 

I have been trying to get my starter going for 14 days now. I initially started it using 50g water and 50g just White Bread Flour (I know I know... It's blasphemous not to use Rye but I rectified that later). Around Day 3 I started discarding 50% and feeding once a day with another 50g each of flour and water. I never got any hooch or otherwise obvious signs of it being hungry so I stuck with the same volume of flour. It seemed to be going fine for the the first 5 days... Getting nice and bubbly and rising a little but it never doubled. The most it rose was about a third around day 7. Then no more than that. It was a quite loose pourable texture and also developed a sudden pungent parmesan cheese like smell. See Pic:

 

 

Everything I've read (which is a lot) suggests that the smell may be an indication that the pH is off. Various sources also suggested that perhaps the hydration was too high given that it was only white flour which absorbs less water, leading to looser texture and thus might be letting the gasses escape before it can double in size. 

 

So I tried the following troubleshooting steps: 

 

- Switching to a 1:2:1 ratio to thicken the texture and give it a chance to trap more gas and left it longer between feeds to give it a chance to eat up the flour.

 

- I tried a test loaf with it and it was woefully bad. A heavy gummy brick with virtually no fermentation.

 

The starter still only rose by a third despite being very thick and the bread failed so I'm guessing this means the yeast activity isn't vigorous enough yet(?) The strong cheesy smell dissipated though.

 

- Next, in order to get more yeast activity going I tried introducing some good quality wholegrain stoneground Rye Flour for 50% of the flour content in my feeds. Same feeding schedule as before. I went back to a 1:1:1 ratio as the previously thicker texture was just a pain to mix and I figured that as I was adding the rye, it would absorb more water and make the starter less watery anyway.

 

5 days later with daily feedings of rye, white bread flour and water, still nothing. Barely any bubbles. No hooch, no obvious signs of fermentation. Smells marginally sour, but it's not even rising at all now.

 

 

I'm so frustrated. I would also like to add that I've ruled out water chlorine by checking the water quality reports for my area and it's very very low; basically a trace amount. 

 

I have also invested in an thermometer and a heating pad to ensure the starter is kept at a constant 24°c and still nothing after 4 days of sitting on it. Only a couple of tiny bubbles.

 

Please help. I'm trying my best and have no idea what I'm doing wrong. Any advice at all would be appreciated.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I suggest you try this approach, it has worked for me.  https://www.thefreshloaf.com/handbook/sourdough-starters

Benito's picture
Benito

I used The pineapple juice solution twice and it worked for me.  You mention rye, I’m all about whole rye when it comes to my starter.  It has the nutrients and the microbes in the flour that especially for a new starter, will get it going faster than any other flour.  I’d recommend that you follow the instructions in the link above or the one Barry linked for you, but consider using only whole rye as the flour because you’ll get it going faster.

Also, keeping it warmer even 26-27ºC will also speed things up.

Benny

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Welcome to TFL !

1. I never use bleached flour when starting or maintaining a starter:

2. I always use bottled _spring_ water for starters. Never "filtered" water, and never tap water.  It has minerals that the yeast seem to like.

Good luck, and bon appétit, amigo. 

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

I agree with Benny on the pineapple juice method.  I’ve used it twice, and it worked well both times.

My guess on your starter...

Your initial activity was gas producing bacteria and not yeast (the funky cheese smell).  Once you started discarding 50% every day, you never allowed the yeast to develop and just kept feeding those bacteria.  By the time you switched to rye, you were already in that feeding cycle, and the rye never had a chance of taking hold.

Follow the pineapple juice method using rye and you’ll have a viable starter in 6-7 days.  Good luck!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

what is the temperature?  That important tidbit of info is missing. Whoops, my bad, found it.  24°C  Does it get cooler at night?  I think you are almost there. Stop feeding it for a day or two and get it a few degrees warmer. Tuck it inside your vest pocket inside a plastic bag (to protect clothing) and see if it improves.

When you get a reaction and do feed it again, feed before the warmest part of the day.  Making starters is a patience tester.  I tend to save the rest of my cold boiled water for startes.

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

CurlyB, starters are simple when they work and a pain when they don’t. But the reality is, starters are simple...

  • make sure that your starter is not over heating. Check the temp of the starter at the bottom of the jar if it is sitting on a heating mat. 80 - 82F s ideal, but don’t go warmer just to be safe.
  • get some bottled spring water, not distilled
  • use 100% organic whole grain rye, the rye should be dark in color indicating the the flour is 100% extraction meaning that non of the grain was sifted out. It is best to use only whole grain rye in the very beginning since it is loaded with the microbes that your starter needs. Forget about getting microbes from the air, all your starter needs as a source for microbes is the rye.

Since the starter is not rising much I don’t suspect you are having Leuconostoc (bad bacteria) problems. If you want, although not necessary, you can substitute all of the water for pineapple juice for the first feed or two.

A common fault is feeding to much and/or too often. In the early stages, feed the starter once it shows signs of fermentation and not before.

You mentioned your research so you probably saw this but just in case -
https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62583/tip-sourdough-starters

You may get lots of advice. Hopefully the assortment of advice from myself and others doesn’t confuse you. There are many ways to succeed when making a starter. The above has always served me well.

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi, 

nice to meet you and thank your for your story and good pictures. You are very thorough, very good. 

Your starter is doing very well. It is almost done. After you got through the phase when it smells like cheese, comes the phase when it sits still, as if nothing is happening. Only after that comes the stage when yeast starts to grow. So you are almost there. 

Your mistake was the choice of the recipe for the starter, i.e. which flours to choose and at which temperature to keep it. Both white flour and rye flour are very poor sources of wild yeast. They are rich in bacteria, but not in yeast. Sometimes after a week in the lab not a single cell of yeast grows in a Petri dish with cultures from white or rye flour.

For the source of yeast whole wheat flour is the best. Also, surfaces of fruits and vegetables are good sources of wild yeast. But for the starters made from pure flours, the best is the blend of whole wheat and whole rye. Whole wheat flour is full of wild yeast and whole rye flour is full of lactic bacteria. Together, they give the best starter, meaning the quickest, the easiest to develop. 

So you choices are to continue doing what you are doing but maybe feed it once with whole wheat flour to introduce more yeast. Even if you don't add whole wheat flour, your starter will eventually explode, start growing. It's just a matter of time. 

Please, be patient and you will succeed. Next time, choose a different recipe for the starter. There are tons of good and quick recipes out there. 

Good luck!

m. 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

That's fascinating Mariana. I realised my mistake with my starting flour a little late in the game, I agree. Never again will I try to make a starter with just white bread flour.

Your observation about wholewheat flour is curious to me though. Everything I've read suggests that Rye is the holy grail for wild yeasts and wholewheat seemed to be regarded as second best but I wonder now of I should be using it more. Thank you so much for suggesting an alternative theory. I have actually just ordered some wholewheat flour with the intention of making bread with it. So if I get nowhere with the other troubleshooting tips, I shall definitely see about mixing up my feeding flours with whole wheat. I already have wholegrain rye so I'm halfway there!

mariana's picture
mariana

It is surprising indeed, surprising if you have prejudices towards certain flours, but it is not a theory, the data comes from research. This data comes both from Europe and from the US research on flours. In the US, the scientists collected data from 500 home bakers who sent them their samples of flour from their homes and it turned out, that whole rye was extremely poor in yeast and whole wheat - the richest source of yeast. I guess those were flours both from the US supermarkets and farms. 

Please, watch this, starting from 8:00 min

And notice this illustration

The top half of the petri dish is bacterial microflora from a certain kind of flour. You can see that white flour and whole rye are the richest sources of bacteria. Whole wheat flours have little lactic bacteria in them. 

The bottom half of the petri dish is what kind of yeast grows from different flours. You can see that white flour is the cleanest, no yeast cells in it. The whole rye flours have very little and the whole wheat is the richest source of the wild yeast. 

There are recipes with purely white or rye flours which rely not so much on flour as the source of microbes, but on baker's hands. Those are for stiff starters that you knead by hand. So the microbes are transferred from our skin to the starter. There is a lot of yeast and lactic bacteria on our skin, including those that come from bread, because we touch bread nearly daily. Those methods also give good starters. But your method is for the liquid starter in a jar, so no bacteria were transferred from your hands and the process took a little bit longer than usual. 

Your temperature setting is not conductive for the microflora development as well. For a fast rise of bacterial population, 35-40C would be the best, and for the yeasts - 27-32C is the optimum. However, different recipes for different starters would range from 10C for desem to the 50-60C range for thermophilic starters similar to those for yogurt. So, at 24C, at your setting, something will grow as well and you will have a good starter. It's just a matter of time. 

You don't need to troubleshoot. Your starter is not in trouble at all. It is on the right path. It's just slow, due to the choice of flours and temperature setting, but it is perfectly fine, on its third and last leg of starter growth-development. Don't interfere too much with it at that point. Just observe and feed regularly. Even the choice of flour at that point doesn't matter, it has everything inside it already. 

best wishes, 

m. 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Great post Mariana

 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Honestly Mariana you have just blown my mind with this post. It makes a lot more sense now why people favour Rye now seeing as it seems to be a bit of a sweet spot between White Flour and Wholewheat in terms of starch, bacteria and yeast. But I would never have guessed that it was Wholewheat that was the true power house of yeast!

You may have just convinced me to convert my starter to just Wholewheat And Wholegrain Rye... I'll save the white flour for baking with. 

For right now, I am following your advice to the letter. As of right now, Ruth (Ruth Breader Ginsberg - my starter) is smelling decidedly more sour but not acidic which is good I think. Still no bubbling or anything else though.

I have turned her heating pad up to 27°c and I shall leave her alone for another 12 hours before checking on her. I shall give her a little feed tomorrow just to keep the pH under control and practice a little more patience.

Thank you so much for your detailed and comprehensive replies. Honestly, I'm so grateful. 

Benito's picture
Benito

I would differ in my interpretation of this “data”.  This still shows that rye is a more ideal flour for getting your starter going.  In our starters LAB : Yeast are about 100:1.  If you were to do a colony count of the yeast and LAB on that Petri dish you’d probably find that the LAB : Yeast to be somewhere pretty close to that 100:1 ratio.  One of the difficulties in getting a starter started is establishing the LAB early on which helps acidify your starter and prevent unwanted bacteria to get a foothold.  Thus using a flour with high LAB and the appropriate amount of yeast is more likely to get your starter established quickly.  The rye is hardly yeast poor, the yeast is in there in good number.

However, looking at whole wheat, few if any colonies of LAB were found suggesting that it would be harder to establish the LAB in a starter created by only using whole wheat.

In any event, in real life, we know that you can create a starter with any of these flours, even just white flour although it is more difficult.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Fair point! I guess that might be why many of the starter recipes out there which don't use rye suggest starting with Wholewheat but then feeding with White flour or a combination of White and Wholewheat. Kick starting yeast while building up the LAB volume with subsequent feedings, maybe? I think you're right that rye is definitely the sweet spot and good all round. But it's interesting to know which properties that the other flours have in abundance for if and when things ever get out of balance and you need to pull it back. It seems they all have their purpose and this research certainly explains a lot about their varying behaviours.

Benito's picture
Benito

I’d also add my anecdotal evidence of maintaining my starter over the past two years.  I initially built two starters, one with whole wheat and the other with rye, the rye was a much faster more vigorous build than the whole wheat.  I eventually converted my starter to whole red fife, so a whole wheat.  On two occasions I had my starter get very very sluggish.  In retrospect I wonder if the balance of LAB to yeast got off balance.  I really do not know why the starter became sluggish but all my doughs suddenly took twice the time to rise compared to what I was used to.  I was under proofing everything if I went by time alone.  In both instances how did I fix my starter?  I switched it to feedings of whole rye 100%.  After a few days over 1:2:2 feedings several times per day waiting for the starter to peak before the next feeding I got my starter back to health.  I then switched back to whole red fife and was fine for some time until the same thing happened again.  After the second or third time I thought to myself, if rye is so good as rehabilitating my starter why wouldn’t I just keep it on a rye diet.  So that is what I did and my starter has been strong healthy and not fragile ever since.

One thing not addressed in that study above is that rye nutritionally is also quite ideal for the microbes in our starters.  It also have higher amylase levels than whole wheat.  Why is that useful?  Amylase is needed in order to breakdown the complex starches in the flour to sugars including maltose and it is these sugars that the microbes can actually consume not the starches.

I give you my experience just to show that I wish I had just fed my starter rye from the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of heartache from those times that the starter became sluggish.  Now just feeding it rye I can always count on it to make a levain that behaves as written recipes predict when using final dough temperatures that the bakers used who wrote the recipes.  Obviously many people feed their starters many other flours and combinations and it does seem to work for them.  So what you do in the end is up to you.

Benny

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Your insights are interesting Benny. It certainly gives more weight to the idea of Rye being that sweet spot in the spectrum of flours. I wonder what caused your starters to take that strange turn in the first place. Did you notice any environmental changes or anything that might have caused it?

Also, I'm loving how the post of my desperate flailing while struggling to save my starter has turned into this deep philosophical debate about the merits of different flours. This is turning out to be so much more interesting than I bargained for.

I think the valuable lesson I have learned here is that I should have use Rye from the start. You and Mariana have really got me thinking about converting to a fully Rye/Wholewheat diet for my starter (assuming I can ressurect and stabilize it!) Honestly I was just being lazy when I first started it as I didn't have any Rye on hand at the time. And in choosing what felt like the easiest option for me at the time, I have in fact made life much harder for myself. I know now that sourdough baking is a way of life, not just a random whim. Luckily I'm committed to staying the course and have invested in the best flours I can find.

The nutritional benefits are also very appealing too! I read something somewhere recently that suggested that many people who are intolerant to commercial breads are having some success with sourdoughs due to the way fermentation breaks down wheat fructans. Which is pretty amazing! It's pretty awesome how fermentation can transform something. I feel like I may be on the way down a fermented foods rabbithole.

Benito's picture
Benito

I do not know why my starter suffered with sluggishness those times and I have spoken to many other bakers who have experienced the same thing.  But I’ve never heard a baker have those problems when they use rye.  My starter maintenance has been extremely consistent over the past 1.5 years so I doubt it was that.  The first time I thought that perhaps my water filtration wasn’t clearing the chlorine in the water.  I even had my water tested to find out and I ruled that out as a cause.  I also compared the growth of two offshoots of my starter, one using my filtered water and the other using bottled water and both had the same growth, any difference wasn’t clinically significant.

The intolerance (NOT Celiac disease) to wheat is often related to FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) in the wheat.  These are essentially fermentable saccharides in the wheat that if not digested by the person will travel to the colon.  In the colon the micro flora will break these starches causing the person to have gas/bloating and diarrhea/loose stools.  By using sourdough to levain our doughs, the microbes in the dough breakdown some of these FODMAP rich starches so people who do not break them down, will not suffer from the side effects of leaving it up to the microbes in their colons to breakdown.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In the video on the rising starter culture comparing wheat, whole wheat and rye, I do have an important comment with respect to the rye.  I have found that a 100% rye at peak rise can appear to hold itself up while the interior collapses being hollow inside.  

Look closely and one can see the bubbles disappear in the upper third of the sample even though the dome has not fallen.  To me it looks like it maintained its dome but fell inside and rose a second time.  Watch carefully as the bubbles get larger then disappear only to show up later toward the end of the time lapse.  This is why I tend to very lightly poke the top to see if it falls or stays up to judge the first peak rise.

Benito's picture
Benito

This is an excellent observation and thanks for sharing it Mini.  Since switching to an all rye starter I have noticed this as well, but never thought to mention it to anyone.  That is certainly good to let people know who are new to rye only starters.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Thank you so so much for replying all of you and for such a warm welcome. I appreciate it so much. I hope one day I get to be as wise as you and can help someone else some day.

 

Barry and Benny, I think you may both be onto something with this pineapple juice idea. But I think I will try it last after ruling out a few other variables first seeing as once you put it in, you can't take it out. 

Idaveindy, I shall give bottled water a trick first just in case the water is the problem. But I'll do so after a little feeding break to give the yeasts a chance to catch up like Hei Hei mentioned next.

HeiHei, you also sound like you are onto something. I have resolved to stop feeding it until it shows some obvious sign of hunger i.e. Hooch or some such change. I've checked on it a couple of times today and it still looks exactly the same with no additional bubbles so I'm not going to touch it till it gets moving. Otherwise what am I feeding?! Plain flour and water, that's what! LOL!

MiniOven, my heating pad is set to 24°c but the room thermometer which is sat directly next to it reads that the temp hovers between 24-27 depending on the time of day and the amount of sunlight coming into my south facing kitchen (don't worry my starter isn't kept in direct sunlight). I keep it at 24 so that will always be the minimum temp even overnight when the ambient temp of my kitchen gets much cooler. Do you still think I ought to turn it up higher? I'm wary of keeping it too warm and killing the yeast but clearly I'm no expert. 

DanAyo, you are quite right. I came across the fresh loaf sourdough starter recipe after I had already begun mine but I will definitely take some inspiration from it now go troubleshoot mine. I do indeed have organic Dark Rye Flour so imagine my surprise when it didn't immediately lead me to the sourdough starter promised land when I started using it! I'm off to the shops now to get some spring water and pineapple juice.

Ok so here's the plan of action:

- Turn up the temp by to 26°c but no more than that.

- Take a break from feeding for a day or two to give the fermentation a chance.

- Try bottled water

- If none of the above get things moving along, try introducing pineapple juice to kick-start things.

Thank you again! I feel a little less hopeless now. I'll be sure to post updates! 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

 Hi CB, What great responses you received from the group, mostly due to the very well constructed and detailed post of the problem that you were endeavouring to solve, It always helps if their is great detail in a post.

With your feeding regime may i suggest just a minor up or down if you are trying to find the sweet spot, going from 1:1:1 to 1:2:1 or 1:2:2 is a big step.I tended to favour  just a minor tweek with either the water or flour being altered just a decimal point or two. This also accounts for differing flours ability to absorb water. as well as maintaining a consitency which might otherwise be slowly increasing or declining over repeated feeding.

I also found when i was maintaining a larger amount in a bucket and feeding twice a day that i was doing it more by feel  decanting off a quantity which was added to a straight yeasted dough as  prefermented flour which improved the dinner rolls that were being produced but relied on dried yeast for their rapid rise,  I would replace the  discarded culture with water from the tap and then add flour  and incorporate by hand to a consitency that i felt through that hand the process used to take me just minutes as i did it before my regular work started and id do it again just before i went home, the afternoon feed was placed in a cool room as it had  16 hours before feed time where as the morning feed was left on the shelf at room temp, weekends it stayed in the cool room, and i tended to thicken it up a bit then, but it was pretty ravenous come monday morning. Sadly that  established culture lives no more, others not willing to include the maintenance of the Beast! 

i haven't used my personal s/d for a while and recently when i bought a frozen sample out of hibernation it was very sluggish   and wasn't ready to fulfill its duties when i was ready to use it. its handy to have a network of baking buddies  that are able to be culture donors and catapult you in a forward direction,

Kind regards 

Derek

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

I concur that it might have been too big of a jump to go from 1:1:1 to 1:2:1... But it really was very soupy and loose! If I were to do it again I might take it a bit more incrementally.

I've gone back to 1:1:1 now and honestly the addition of Rye had been a game changer for the texture. It's much more like thick batter now. I think I'll hang out with that ratio for a while and see how that goes as I don't want to be changing too many variables at once. For the next day or so I have resolved not to discard anything as I want to give the fermentation a good chance to take hold as per Mariana's instructions.

One of my best friends does indeed have an established starter going which I could clone, but I am still committed to nurturing my own for now. It's a great backup plan though! :D

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Curly, do you remember my reply where I stated that I hope we don’t confuse you? I am laughing out loud :D

How I wished there was a single definitive method to build a starter from scratch. 10 different bakers may give you 10 different recommendations. And, it is very possible that all answers are correct...

Starters are super simple, but making your first one can be a challenge.
Have fun, be patient, and think about the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have once to achieve it.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

LOL!!! You did call it early on, Dan. XD

There ar so many different ways of doing this! This has been an education! I love it though. Aside from arming me with the knowledge and confidence to persevere with my sourdough adventures, this also might be the warmest friendliest place on the internet. I shall be spending a lot more time here I think! :)

The sense of accomplishment is all that's keeping me going. Eye on the prize! Brace yourselves for lots of over exuberant celebration if I ever eventually produce an edible loaf of bread. It's going to be wild lol.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

This phenomenon happened to me once! It was when I had briefly switched to a 1:2:1 feeding ratio to see if the texture was the issue with my all white starter. I wondered what it was. It looked like it was just holding its peak for ages from the outside but a tiny tap on the surface and the pretend bubbles all collapsed. I read somewhere that the texture of the starter plus the shape of the jar can contribute to this happening. It's good to know that this might be more likely with Rye. Thanks, Mini! :)

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

There isn't a whole lot of change on the starter front today. I had a couple of micro bubbles and a sour smell. There was some liquid on the top but I couldn't tell if this was hooch or condensation because there appeared to be a bit of water condensed on the lid of the jar. There also appeared to be a little bit of a skin forming on the top of the starter which I stirred in.

Given the possibility of hooch, I have it a little feed by removing 100g (of 350g) and fed it with 25g Wholewheat, 25g Rye, 50g water and put it back on its 28°c heating pad. 

Getting mighty frustrated at the moment.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Curly,  I know it can be frustrating to get a starter started, but once you get it going,  it is extremely hard to kill, and so will survive a lot of abuse.  If you decide you want to start over, send me a pm, and I will send you some dried starter, just add water and revive it. 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi, 

what recipe for the starter are you following? What exactly is its schedule of feedings? 

Sour smell is good, very good. 

While I understand your frustration, I encourage you to be patient and simply observe. If your recipe is reliable, from a trusted source, a tested recipe, then it will give you a starter, rest assured. Your job is to observe how its microbial community is evolving. If you wanted a lighting fast starter, then you would simply choose a quick and easy recipe for a starter. You chose the long route, with a lot of experimentation and tweaking along the way, so relax and observe. 

So far, your starter undergoes all classic steps of starter microbial community development. It started with wild growth of lactic bacteria community as in the picture of your first jar of white flour starter, it's foaming. Those first bacteria produce a lot of gas and unpleasant smell. Then this wild lactic bacteria gives you the cheesy smell and dies out. It is next replaced by the sourdough lactic bacteria. They don't produce gas, but they do give a clean sour taste and smell. So your starter will sit quiet for a while. No foaming, no rise. This is the sour smell (and taste) that you are getting now. The last thing to grow in the sourdough microbial community would be the yeasts. This is the stage your starter is now at. The starter will be foaming or rising in volume again. If it's liquid or high proportion rye, then foaming. It it has strong gluten, then it will rise. 

Once your starter pH goes down to 4.0-4.5, feed it. Below 4.0 sourdough lactic acid bacteria doesn't propagate, so it makes no sense to keep your starter unfed after that value had been reached. 

Sometimes the starter is full of yeasts but it is not rising simply due to the gluten being destroyed. If it looks and feels like a blob of glue or a quiet gluey liquid with an occasional bubble on the surface, then it won't rise no matter how much yeast is inside. It needs to be washed, highly diluted before feeding. Still, your starter right now is 50:50 rye-wheat, so gluten is probably not so important.

You can test it by taking a tablespoon of starter out from the main jar and mixing it into a small ball of bread dough, like 1Tbsp starter (10-15g), 50g white bread flour, 30g water, knead it thoroughly and watch it rise in a small covered glass  at 28C. It it triples or quadruples in volume in 6-8 hrs, then your starter is ready. 

 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Secondly... My recipe was from BBC Good Food. Although it does recommend using Wholewheat to get things going. In my ignorance of not understanding the importance of the Wholewheat at the time, I just did it anyway with what I had on hand which was White Bread Flour. I know now that this deviation from the recipe is what cost me and I have definitely learned my lesson. The further deviation to using Rye and Wholewheat was based just on the advice I had read in lots of places including the clever carrot, the perfect loaf, forums here, Reddit... Etc. 

To be honest, I hadn't realised the actual scientific steps that took place in the development of a starter until talking to you. And that's no exaggeration. That video you shared and all of the knowledge you've imparted have opened my eyes immensely as to just how complex of an ecosystem a starter really is. I have endeavoured to take much more care with it now. Like feeding a well loved pet lol.

I know now that the first boom of activity I got was from the not so desirable bacteria taking a foothold first when I was using just all white flour. Hence the weird cheese smell and sudden drop in activity. The activity (or lack thereof) I saw during the quiet phase was actually fermentation, which was that much slower due to me stupidly messing around and introducing different flours later in the game. It took more time to acidify of the environment, rather my starter dying like I had feared. And now in its final wonderful form, I suddenly have a boom of wonderful yeasts! 

I shall definitely be trying your mini bread dough test possibly on Friday. It sounds like a good indicator. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all of these steps to me. It's make it so much easier for me to get my head around the process. I cannot thank you enough.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Barry, Thank you for your kind offer but I don't think it'll be necessary. I think she must have heard you and gotten scared at the prospect of getting replaced. Because I just checked on Ruth and look what she did!!!!! I'm so excited!!!!

I'm so happy I can't even tell you. Looks like the Wholewheat and Rye diet plus patience and warmth has worked better than I could have hoped! I've never seen her rise this high before. She's more than doubled! She's almost at the lid of the jar!!! She has a deep fruity and alcoholic smell to her now which is really pleasant. No cheesy funk to be found! Which means I appear to have captured some real wild yeasts! :D

I'm still waiting for her to start falling. This took around 14 hours, so hopefully with a few more feeds she'll be able to do this in better time. But I'm still over the moon!

I couldn't have done this without the encouragement, advice, and support I've gotten here so honestly thank you to all of you from the bottom of my heart. Mariana and Mini, you were right. Patience and warmth was all she wanted. Maybe if she stays consistent over the next two days I might be about to bake with her this weekend! How exciting!!! :D

Benito's picture
Benito

Congratulations CB on the birth of your starter.  Now you need to get it nice and strong and ready for baking.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

I'm so excited. Now to just not screw it up lol. She's gonna get a couple more feeds maybe every 12 hours plus and some careful monitoring over the next two days to track the speed of her rise and fall.

I'm hopeful she will be strong enough for a loaf this week. Stay tuned for my next round of flailing as I try wrap my brain around coil folds and bulk fermentation times. Hilarity is sure to ensue lol. XD

HeiHei29er's picture
HeiHei29er

Congrats CB.  You've reached a major milestone!  

One thing I learned the hard way and I hope to prevent you from going through the same learning curve...  Make sure your starter has peaked (or is near peak) before the next feeding.  I was feeding my starter by the clock (every 12 hours) and not when it was ready to be fed.  As a result, I was feeding too early.  The bacteria/yeast population hadn't matured, and I was diluting them with every feeding.  Make sure it's peaked before that next feeding.

Good luck on your sourdough journey!

mariana's picture
mariana

Happy birthday, little Ruth Breader G.!

I am so happy for both of you. Well done!

Remember now, that what you have right now in that jar is the richest biodiversity of sourdough microbes. You can bake with it already. Or make fermented drinks. Or even save some, make a backup portion of dried sourdough.

The following feeding schedule - temperature, frequency, ratio of feedings and the choice of flour will exert selective pressure on that rich community and some species  of LAB and yeast will die out while other will dominate. In extreme case, which is not rare,  only one species of LAB and only one yeast will be left, as in San-Francisco sourdough starter.

Youre starter will be fully formed by then. It takes about 5 days of persistent feedings, sticking to a certain schedule without deviation to complete species selection. After that  Miss Ginsberg won't change anymore. She will be a fully grown adult starter by then.

May both of you be healthy and happy! Godspeed!

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I'd like to emphasize something  Mariana wrote above: 

". It takes about 5 days of persistent feedings, sticking to a certain schedule without deviation to complete species selection. After that Miss Ginsberg won't change anymore. She will be a fully grown adult starter by then."

I think she means 5 days from the "Yeast bloom",  not 5 days from that first bloom of bad-bacteria.  In other words, If you bake this weekend, the starter won't perform/behave as it will next week.

I've seen this before with new bakers using a new from-scratch starter. They do a first-loaf too soon, and it's under fermented because the starter is not "mature" or balanced.

The different species and strains of bugs are still fighting for dominance and trying to find a good LAB/yeast ratio at the same time.

And so a few days later they try baking again using more starter/levain, and then it is over-fermented because the starter has now matured and balanced and is therefore stronger.

So my tip is to take what Mariana said to heart, and feed in a consistent manner (based on the starter's  behavior, as HeiHei said, not just based on the clock.)  And then wait until at least Monday (yeast-bloom + 5 days) to bake.  

Hope this helps.

P.S. It's not in her 2   "Pineapple" posts,  but Debra Wink explained what Mariana mentioned about the next 5 days after the yeast-bloom. I'll try to find it.

Update: found it. or one instance. Debra suggested 2 weeks, but I'm unclear about what time-point that starts at: first mixing flour and water, the bad-bacteria bloom, or the yeast-bloom. https://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/178233#comment-178233

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I'd guess using the discard from feedings to flavour your products is fine at this stage though, and maybe even make something low-pressure, like a focaccia which doesn't need to rise super high and can be given enough time to ferment without much problems if gluten starts to degrade a little. Or just add a little pinch of yeast, just to figure out the procedure for the future pure sourdough bakes.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

True.  But while you and I understand that, I think that is overloading someone new to starters and sourdough baking.   

I think Mariana wanted Curly to understand (and I concur ) that the starter Curly has this weekend is going to be a different starter than the one she'll have on Wednesday  and going forward.  And the 5 day thing is not carved in stone either. It could be 7, 10, maybe 14 days.

That change may be off-putting/confusing to a new sourdough baker who has not yet experienced the fermentation balancing act the rest of us have learned: a) strength of starter/levain. b) amount of starter/levain. c) time. d) temp. e) presence of added sugar. f) presence of bran/enzymes/malt.

Creating a starter from scratch can be confusing because most cookbooks and online instructions don't get as comprehensive as Debra or Mariana have been. Most instructions go by time and date, and don't sufficiently educate the raw beginner about the signs and behavior to look for as the keys/clues about feeding.

Being a germophobe (raised by a doctor and former nurse) I was too scared to create a starter from scratch, and baked with purchased starters for a few years.

Only after regularly reading TFL, and reading the experts like Debra Wink, and the many other helpers hand-hold a bunch of newbies, did I feel confident to make a starter from scratch.

Debra Wink and DanAyo were my first starter heros, then Phaz, and now I add Mariana to that list.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Sourdough waffles and pancakes are imminent, Ilya. :D

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Agreed, Ida. It would be ridiculous for me to have plunged head first into trying to bake a loaf without waiting a while longer for Ruth to stabilise. And there's absolutely zero chance of me having done that before already having read this comment due to my uncontrollable excitement. *Innocent puppy dog eyes* 

You live and you learn, I guess. I'm going to let next week's Ruth be a problem for next week's CurlyBaker.

mariana's picture
mariana

idaveindy,

from experience, I know that working sourdough starters with everything in them necessary to bake bread, both 100% wheat or 100% rye could be created in 12-24 hours or even sooner. However, there are methods that rely on creating a large pool of bacteria and yeast first and then selecting from it. Those methods take longer, from 2 to 10 days to create that large pool of everything sourdough and then from 4 to 14 days to select from it some stable microbial community by repeated feedings at certain temperature with certain flours in certain ratios.

For example, in Nancy Silverton's starter a jar with flour, water and grapes stands still for 6-10 days and only then you start refreshing (selecting from) that dough and in five days you will have an immortal starter. It doesn't change no matter what and the bread made with it is different than bread from that grape dough on the 6th-10th day of wild microflora propagation. A completely different bread with different taste and aroma. The change happens suddenly and (in my kitchen) always on the fourth day of starter feeding. 

The same is with the raisin water starter that Hamelman describes in his book, for his Swiss farm bread, where yeast water is created to propagate wild yeast. The same is with desem starter, etc. 

I saw once an article that describes how microflora of the rye starters changes with time and the authors also state that it takes two weeks to establish their microflora, even though from their illustrations you can see that it basically takes only 24-48 hours to shift from wild pathogenic and lactic bacteria to fully sourdough microflora. 

THE EVOLUTION OF LACTIC ACID BACTERIA COMMUNITY DURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MATURE SOURDOUGH (2009) Tanja D. Žugić-Petrović, Nataša M. Joković and Dragiša S. Savić

They show that in rye flour only 30% of all bacterial microflora are LAB (not just sourdough LAB, but all kinds of LAB), and during the first 24 hrs at 30C they will double and comprise 70% of all microflora and by the end of the first 48hrs - 100% of all bacterial microflora of the starter. 

 RF - rye flour, PS1 - propagation step 1, first 24 h of fermentation. 

PS2 - propagation step 2, second 24 h of fermentation, after feeding 10g of starter from PS1 1:10 with fresh rye dough. 

MD - mature dough, mature sourdough starter, ready to use in bread baking.  

The bacterial composition is as follows: only a minuscule portion of all LAB are sourdough LAB in rye flour and on the first day of spontaneous fermentation, most of them are putrid smelling enterococci and 'other LAB genera', but by the end of the first 48hrs nearly 100% of all bacteria in the starter are sourdough LAB. and 100% of them - by the end of the 2 weeks of feeding/propagation. 

The number of LAB cells per gram of flour would stabilize by the second day and stay unchanged, only different species would be selected from them.

SD - start dough, zero hours of fermentation, freshly mixed rye dough

PS1-propagation step 1, 24 hrs of fermentation at 30C

PS2- propagation step 2, PS1 fed 1:10, 24 hours of fermentation at 30C

PS3- propagation step 3, PS2 is fed 1:10, given 24 hours of fermentation at 30C

MD - mature sourdough after 2 weeks of daily feedings

In this particular method of developing starter from scratch, feeding once a day 1:10, keeping it at 30C, it's two weeks altogether to achieve stability, starting from the first minute of the first day of mixing flour and water . 

justkeepswimming's picture
justkeepswimming

Mariana, I have a question. I have been thinking about getting one of the starters from sourdo.com. The above has me wondering how long the microflora from one of those starters "last". After a number of feedings, do they eventually convert to the same microflora that exist in my current starter? Not literally convert.... get replaced by the microflora in my flours/home environment? 

mariana's picture
mariana

Mary, I have tried many, but not all of Ed Wood cultures and those that are white flour based are very stable and fragrant. I kept them both in stiff and in liquid form in my refrigerator and they are remarkably stable. Just like Ed Wood I kept several of them at once and they never cross-contaminated, didn't influence each other, kept being unique and different for months and months, until I got interested in something else and stopped baking with them, dried them for long term storage. 

He himself keeps them for 6-9 months refrigerated in liquid form without refreshments and they are stable. They've been stable for decades. And they are all remarkably different in aroma, simply amazing. He also keeps his powders prepared for sales refrigerated in large containers, but I don't know for how long. 

This is the photo of his fridge with sourdo.com starters in liquid and dry powdered forms. This image shows starters refrigerated as early as in June-July 2013 with pictures taken for the online publication in March of 2014. Source: Retired Doctor Houses Sourdough Starters | Edible Idaho,  Getting Cultured by Alyson Outen March 1st, 2014. 

So, if you stick to white flour and feed them as instructed, you will be happy forever. His San-Francisco, Bahrain, Finland and some other starters are simply heavenly. Very good. His Russian starter didn't perform as described, there was nothing special about its leavening power, maybe it was my fault, I don't know. Some other starters I didn't care that much for either (Tasmanian, South African), but again, I didn't try them all. 

I am not sure that they will stay the same if you change their flour or feeding schedule. These are two major factors that might affect the culture. White bread flour is quite clean, so it won't introduce any extraneous microflora that easily. For any specific bread which is not white bread flour based, you simply prepare its own levain with its own flour in one step, inoculating it with a small portion of Ed Wood's starter or even with water (hooch) from that starter, it will work just as well. 

Mary, remember your question about kneading in food processors? There was a book about bread baking with the help of FP recommended there. I got it yesterday and it's a very, VERY good book, even though it is very old, from 1980, but the techniques and recipes in that book are simply top notch. I think I will bake a lot from it. I will even try their sourdough starter recipe, it looks intriguing enough. I had other books by Beatrice Ojakangas, her Scandinavian Baking book, etc. but never got to bake from them. But this book is really, really good. She even has videos on youtube where she makes dough in Cuisinart food processor. So, if you are still interested, take a look. She shows how she mixes dough for baguette with poolish in her food processor, how easy it is in this video. Starting at 19:00 min

 

justkeepswimming's picture
justkeepswimming

Thank you so much for the starter info! Really helpful, especially to feed it/them with bread flour. I had been using a mixture of AP, whole wheat, and rye,then building rye or WW levain as needed. Nice to hear I wasn't too far off the mark.

I bake with whole grains quite often, and was thinking of trying the S African (reportedly does better than many with these). And had also been contemplating trying the one from Finland as well, so your recommendation on that one is very timely.

Yes, I'm definitely still interested in FP kneading. This time of year, our winter visitors from colder climates are heading home. Some will return next year, but others decide it's their last year and sell. It's not unusual to find new/nearly new treasures at yard sales or second hand stores. Example: a couple of years ago, a good friend bought a barely used Vitamix for $50. New for that model is $500, she was quite happy with her discovery.  No luck for me so far, so I will likely just get a new one. Meanwhile, I went ahead and ordered that book. 1980 is well within my memory banks, though things from back then are indeed in the "old" category. 

Oh and that video was very timely as well! She is roasting chicken at the beginning... My grocery accidentally gave me a whole chicken in our pick-up order yesterday. I called and they to just keep it, since they wouldn't be able to sell it since it left the store. You are a full service provider of info, lol! 😂

Mary

mariana's picture
mariana

Mary, I am so happy that you got a whole free chicken and a recipe for it! 💖💖💖

I agree that now in pandemic all bread baking devices became crazy expensive, plus they disappeared from stores. Hopefully, things will get better with time.

I mostly use my small Compact Bosch mixer for kneading, it sells for about $150, IF you find a new one. Pleasanthillgrain tells us that they will have them in May. I love it. It is small, light, easy to clean, easier than a food processor anyways, and to put away and it kneads like God. The best bread mixer ever for home use, if you bake for 2-4 people, 1-4 lbs of bread at a time.

 

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

I ordered the Finnish, Russian, and South African starters you mentioned.  I bake almost entirely with whole wheat, so I have only activated the South African one, which I have been feeding since last Spring using whatever wheat I happen to have.  Now I'm curious to try the other two to see if I can tell a difference in flavor or leavening capabilities.  I wonder how closely it resembles the original culture after almost 1 year of maintenance with so many different wheat and microbes.

mariana's picture
mariana

 Ah! That's why you RedFife sourdough bread was so sour tasting! It's because your starter is South African! My SA was also giving me sharp sour taste in whole wheat breads and because of that I stopped using it.

For whole wheat, especially RedFife breads,  I prefer sweeter, milder taste, like desem. This desem is one of the best if not THE best, it easily rivals homemade desem starter:

https://shop.culturesforhealth.com/products/whole-wheat-sourdough-starter

Some customers got very sour taste out of it, but mine , once restored, was like a true Flemish desem, fragrant like honey sweet apples and mildly sour to taste.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

I've been maintaining it at low hydration (previously 60% and now 50%) at less than 60 F for several months now, with the understanding that those conditions were sufficient to push it in the right direction, but I have nothing to compare it with.  There have been a few threads on TFL and elsewhere suggesting that maintenance alone was sufficient to achieve a functional desem culture and that it would ultimately adapt to your conditions and grain source, although since it is hard to quantify this I guess it is mostly speculation.  I'm now curious if this approach might result in some kind of local minimum if the initial culture is very (too) stable.  I'm also aiming for a mild flavor, and have had some success with this in previous bakes, although with the red fife I think the sourness was due, at least in part, to a much longer bulk fermentation required to achieve a given rise than usual.  I think this coincided with recent attempts to drop hydration to 50% and the challenges of reading the stiffer starter.  Are you still maintaining a desem culture?  I'm curious to hear about your personal experience and have quite a few lingering questions about this, but don't want to hijack this thread.  I will order the dried starter you mention and also try to get the Russian starter going as a desem for comparison, which is reportedly milder.

mariana's picture
mariana

I maintain my desem cultures, I just don't bake with them all the time, because our staple sourdough breads are 100% rye and white San-Francisco sourdough. I don't bake that much with whole wheat on a daily basis, for us it is more of a treat. So right now them desems are sitting in storage in dry form which I convert to moist stiff form every  6 months, do a test bake and then dry them again to keep the culture fresh and ready, not expired. Both my homemade desem and the one I purchased from the Cultures for Health. 

Some starters are sour simply because of their bacterial composition. They have bacteria or bacterial strains that are remarkable producers of strong acids. Other starters have bacteria that produce very mild tasting and mild smelling acids and there is nothing you can do about it. 

This is different from the general rule that the very same bacteria can produce more acetic and less lactic acid when the dough is stiff and/or cold and more lactic and less acetic when the dough is soft or liquid and warm or even hot 40C and above. It happens because each bacterial cell simultaneously produces two acids at a time, but proportions of those acids react to shifts in temperature and osmotic pressure - to how much free water is available in dough to dilute those acids. 

Another detail is that yeast produces CO2 gas which becomes carbonic acid when diluted in water. When bakers retard their dough or refrigerate it, more CO2 would be dissolved in dough water under pressure (cold dough becomes stiffer and doesn't expand as easily under gas pressure so gas is dissolved in water) and bread would taste remarkably more acidic and smell sharper, edgier. 

With bacterial composition it is very tricky because testing is not readily available to the general public or, where available, is expensive. So many stories that we hear are simply stories, no proof. A friend of mine religiously maintained an original sourdough culture that he acquired during his travels, and he felt that it was absolutely the same as the original. Yet when he submitted it to DNA testing, the bacterial composition was different, 2 major new species of bacteria appeared in his sample as compared to the original culture and one species of yeast has disappeared. But those changes didn't affect the flavor or taste of breads he was baking. In many ways it was absolutely the same starter and the same bread. 

Please tell me about your experiences with the Russian starter. I am curious. 

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

Fantastic post, Mariana.  Thanks.  Printed out.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

Excellent response as usual.

You have encouraged me to try out a few different starters for the sake of comparison.  I'm curious what differences I will notice.  My SA starter is in a funk, which has derailed my baking, and it is a good time to try a new one that might be better aligned with desem goals.  I suppose one could/should follow the approach used by traditional wheat breeders: create multiple starters and pick the best one.  I brought the Russian starter to life based on your comments and online descriptions of the mild flavor, whole-wheat friendliness, and alleged leavening power.  The Finnish one and the WW Cultures for Health starter will have to wait, as I've decided to try a bona fide desem culture in parallel from my Red Fife berries -- two active starters is enough for now.  Hopefully, it is ready in a couple of weeks and I'll have something for comparison.  I've been building up the Russian starter while lowering its hydration and placed it in the wine fridge yesterday at 60 F and 60% hydration.  It didn't need much of an adjustment period, as it doubles quickly and seems to be very happy there, so I will probably try a bake in the next day or so.  No doubt all of my problems will disappear :)  I'll post an update.

Your comment about additional acidity from cold C02 (in addition to the accumulation of acid from extended fermentation times) is interesting.  I had not heard that before, and it seems to be another factor motivating the hot and humid final proof used with desem.

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

> Please tell me about your experiences with the Russian starter. I am curious

I have it in the wine fridge at 60% hydration and 60 F where it seems to double reliably in < 12-hour cycles, so I've been feeding it 2x a day.  It seems to be a strong starter, although I'm not sure if it is exceptional.  I'll try to take more accurate measurements and post them and can run any tests for comparison.  It is much better than the current SA starter, which I've officially retired.  I was happy with the first bake using some home-milled Rouge de Bourdeaux, which my previous starter turned into a mess on two previous occasions, and will try the red fife again, which had similar issues late in the proof.  The flavor was mild and didn't overpower the RdB, but it wasn't particularly sweet or malty.  I did have to cut the hot final proof short to allow time for preheating the oven, which may have impacted the flavor.

I'm 5 days in on the desem from scratch and will probably try a bake after 2 weeks.  I'm very curious about that one.  It seems at least plausible that a starter born in desem conditions might thrive more there than one converted to those conditions, especially if they have a tendency to stabilize... nature vs nurture.  I can only speculate.  Do you find noticeable differences between your desem and faux-desem starters?

This is slightly unrelated, but I was thinking about your 6-month storage when I came across some articles about Dave Miller's starter maintenance.   Apparently, he dries his starter out in flour between bakes, and he feels this rest gives him more reliable behavior than constant feeding.  I've never seen this as a routine practice.  The first link provides more detail, and also mentions a 3 stage build with stepped inoculations of 25%, 50%, and 75%.  It seems very specific, but the link doesn't provide much of an explanation.   My guess is that it reduces acid load and might exploit yeast vs LAB lag cycles.  I would be curious if you (or anyone else) have thoughts on this.

https://www.chiceats.com/blog/baking-bread-levain/dave-millers-sourdough-starter-maintenance

http://www.farine-mc.com/2015/09/dave-millers-formulas-for-einkorn-renan.html

mariana's picture
mariana

Thank you for your feedback re: Russian starter from sourdo.com I am thinking about getting it as well and giving it its second chance. 

How's your desem going? Any changes? Which recipe for desem are you using?

I know only two recipes published in the US: by Laurel Robertson (1984) and Thom Leonard's (1990). Leonard handles his desem exactly as Omer Gevaert with one difference from Omer's approach. Both Robertson and Leonard make their desem from freshly milled wheat flour whereas the original European desem is made from sprouted wheat grains which are slightly mashed and spontaneously fermented in a cold place. I tried both methods and they give me two different starters. 

You can achieve the same results by making desem from freshly ground wheat schrot with addition of malt or 10-20% of freshly sprouted and chopped wheat kernels.

Omer Gevaert's original recipe for desem. Its essence is making a French-style starter from slightly sprouted wheat using cold anaerobic conditions and 1% salt which block rotting and spoiling stage of spontaneous fermentation. 

Just as you, I can only speculate. I have never had starters change due to keeping them or making them grow in my wine fridge at 60F. They simply stay the same forever at such temperature. Again, without testing microflora what can I say, they look, and smell, and taste the same. Nothing would become desem or like desem.

Real desem, as in made from scratch using Omer's method is extremely different. Cultures for Health's desem is different from my homemade, very different, but it has an amazing flavor which I never got in my spontaneously fermented starters at home. 

Thank you for telling me about Dave and giving links. I love to read about passionate bakers who bake real bread. Thank you!

Dave Miller's way of handling his starter in between bakes is simply convenience. Every baker who bakes regularly would adjust his or her routine of starter preservation to suit them and their starter. Drying works, of course, it always did. If some home dried culture stayed dry only for a few days, it would restore immediately when moistened. So his method works, well he obviously shows us that it does.

You say that you never seen this as a routine practice, yet it has been a routine practice for ages and ages in farm setting in Europe where peasants would not wash their trough or dough bucket from dough and let it dry on the walls. Then add water, flour, when you want to bake, let it sit to moisten the crust and release its beasties into solution et la voilà, you have restored your culture from 'dried starter' on the walls of your dough vessel. Even today starter culture is stored and restored like that in many places in rural settings far away from where Dave lives. 

This is how wooden bread dough bucket looks before drying it, no washing! Drying a little bit of sourdough like that is no different from drying it crumbled with flour or smeared on parchment or wax paper. 

This is how dried culture on its walls looks after the starter for the next batch was made inside (it's a liquid rye starter: a blend of scalded rye flour with water plus microbes from dry starter on the walls)

 Source

Bread sponge (liquid preferment made with that reconstituted starter)

Source

The lady that uses this method is old now, so she bakes bread only twice a year to teach visitors - students of old traditions. So her culture sits like that for six months in between bakes. When she was baking regularly, she was baking every week or two weeks.

This method of preserving and reconstituting sourdough culture is so traditional, it is registered and protected by UNESCO. Except instead of triple feeding starter 25-50-75%, which is French method, work from three leavens for wheat sourdough, rye bread is made in three stages: reconstituted starter step (a little flour), sponge step (a bit more flour), bread dough step (most flour). Then dry a bit of that bread dough either in a thin layer or rubbed with flour or bran, and a week or two later repeat. 

 

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

No recipe, but there's a pretty nice bit of writing scattered throughout the book on the late Allen Scott's version of desem.  It's in The Bread Builders (he got his recipe from Laurel).  Just some additional material, if anyone was interested.

mariana's picture
mariana

Thank you, Paul, nice catch. Alan Scott deserves to be mentioned, of course. I have that book, I am sorry I forgot to mention it.

I read it many times but I didn't refer to it when I made my desem, maybe because Alan's whole bread making routine overwhelmed me, it felt unique rather than 'traditional'. I was consulting Laurel's and Thom's books back then when I made my first desem from scratch. 

I will re-read this book again. Today. I promise!

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

Wow!  That's a great story.  Thanks for sharing it.  It reminds me of continuously running miso cellars or tamari barrels.  According to the article, Dave feels he gets a more reliable starter that way.  I think once we find something that works we tend to stick to it.  I am curious about the 25-50-75% French method.  Can you point me to any resources that discuss that in more detail?

Almost as soon as I wrote about the Russian starter, it became *much* slower.  I would have expected any temperature shock to happen immediately after reducing the temperature.  Maybe I fed it too early as I've been trying to use two stage builds to reduced pH for Red Fife and spelt bakes.  It was going pretty strong for a bit there.  I was feeding it after doubling but before the total gluten disintegration that is mentioned in LKBB and other sources.  I've been feeding it patiently again at 5:3:5 and 60 F for a few days hoping it will pick up the pace again.  I recall similar behavior with the SA faux-desem which seemed to need some time to adapt.

The desem is coming along.  With my faux-desem, I have succeeded in producing mild whole wheat with a pleasant subtle touch of acidity, but have not really been successful in achieving the sweet malty flavor I've read about, nor do I live near a bakery where I can actually try it.  It feels a little bit like learning jazz entirely from books, but I'm determined! I'm hoping this effort will get me closer, and I may also try the sprouted/malted version.  I suppose it is also worth repeating a few times with different flours/microbes to see which one works best.

I have read Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, The Bread Builders, and The Bread Book by Thom Leonard.  Recently I bought the e-book Southern Ground  by Jennifer Lapidus (who learned from Alan Scott) since I noticed it had a desem section, although it is fairly short.  (Jennifer is now head miller at Carolina Ground and her story is quite interesting.)  I'll add your description from Omar Gevaert to this mini library.  I had come across reports of this (the pine forest part) but never actually found the article, which does seem to be fairly different from the other books I've read.  I may need to read that a few times to fully understand it.  

I'm using a fairly simple approach.  I milled a bunch of Red Fife and bolted it using a 30/40/50 sieve stack, then soaked the bran + middlings and strained them through a fine almond milk bag in an attempt to concentrate microbes residing on the outer bran layer.  I'm not sure if that will help but I figured it wouldn't hurt.  I then milled more Red Fife and hydrated that with the strained water at 60%, covered it in the same flour in a Weck jar and placed it in the wine fridge at 60 F.  I've been feeding it approximately 50:30:50 every other day since 4/26 until I noticed a pretty good "sponge" texture tonight.  I fed it 50:60:100 and will try to repeat this every day for another week unless it feels like it needs more time.  I have been covering it in flour and peeling off the rind when feeding it, but plan to just stick it in a glass jar once the culture is more mature and not so vulnerable to other microbes.

mariana's picture
mariana

Your desem looks very healthy, very lovely. It is already 8 days old! : ))) A few more and you will be baking with it!

I used Omar Gevaert's method and all my students followed it as well and got that trademark apple flavor out of it within five days of its fermentation. Should you be curious, give it a try. It's quite unique and takes between 7-14 days to complete. 

Omer Gevaert's Desem

Day 1, first 24 hours) 300g clean (well washed) wheat kernels are covered with cold water and left for 24hr at 10-18C. Next, drain water, weigh the grain, 1/4 of all grains should be flattened by rolling pin. The remaining wheat kernels would go to your refrigerator (4C) where they will continue to sprout slowly for 2 more days. 

 

Source

Day 2+3) Gather flattened kernels into a ball, and place it into cold flour, cover with flour. Keep it for 48 hrs at 10-18C.

It won't smell like anything by the end of that period

Day 4+5+6) Take it out, separate its soft inner mass and blend it with the remaining sprouted kernels in a food processor or blender. Or use meat grinder to create a uniform mass. Make this mass into a stiff ball and hide it in cold flour. Leave it there for 3 days. 

By the end of that period the culture is ready. It will smell like apples and taste like apples, pH 4.5, TTA 6-7 degrees, no gluten, not sticky at all.

Day 7) From this moment on start alternating stiff and liquidy feedings, feeding it once per day. Give it a week to reach its maximum leavening power. 

Day 7 - stiff feeding (chef): 1:2 , i.e. 1 part starter to 2 parts fresh dough (whole grain flour + whole sprouted grain flour + water to make stiff dough). Make a ball, roll it in  flour and place it inside clean napkin, tie it up as in Thom Leonard's illustrations in his book. Leave it for 24hrs at 10-18C. 

Day 8 - soft feeding (levain) 1:2, for example 50g starter, 50g whole grain flour, 50g water, blend and leave it to ferment in a covered measuring cup at 20-24C (sic!) for 24hrs.

Continue feeding it, alternating chef (mother starter, desem) and levain (sourdough sponge), but feeding them more generously each time

 Day 9 cold, stiff and tied up 1:3, day 10 warm, soft and free 1:4, etc.... 

Each time it will rise more and more, emanating brighter and indescribably more pleasant aroma. Once you see that levain rose 3x in 14-24 hrs of fermentation after feeding it 1:5, your desem is ready to be used in baking. You will never taste a better wheat bread from freshly milled wheat flour, it's simply heavenly, unbelievably good: 

Source

Ripe desem is fed 1:5 or even more generously (`1:10, even 1:20 would work), tied up and kept at 10-18C (wine fridge) for 24 hrs or for a week at 4C (regular fridge) after that you need to feed it again. A portion of it could be preserved just like Dave does, by rubbing it with flour and drying it out. 

========================================================

The three leavens methods appeared in the Middle ages in Europe and their variations had been popular until the first half of the 20th century. They were used both for rye and wheat 'wild' starters to control acidity and flavor of breads. These days, pure microbial sourdough cultures are commercially available for any flavor or acidity, so one step methods are much more popular as they are less time consuming.

Gerard Rubaud was one of the last bakers of old generation who still used it, he described it here

My bread is a three-levain bread.

First levain: 300 g levain chef (mother starter), 400 g water and 700 g flour (70% all-purpose and 30% freshly milled whole grains as described above) = 1400 g

Second levain: 1400 g starter + 800 g water + 1500 flour = 3.7 kg

Third levain: 3700g starter + 2800 g water (2650 g in the summer as I don’t have air-conditioning) + 5000 g flour = 11.5 kg

These 11.5 kg of levain will inoculate about 48 kg of flour. But don’t forget the salt. 1% salt (freshly ground salt from the Dead Sea) is added to each feeding in order to control the fermentation. If a levain ferments too fast, it becomes oily and deteriorates rapidly.

Each leaven is a 50% hydration starter and it ferments for 7 hours.

===

Rubaud's method was very simplified but it worked for him, in his bakery. The original French work from three leavens is described in R.Calvel's book La Boulangerie Moderne (1984, page 149). There you can see that only the first leaven ferments long enough to accumulate acid load and propagate yeast to the max, the second and the third are very brief, "young leavens" that give bread the best flavor and structure. 

first leaven 1 kg chef (starter) +2L water +5 kg flour, 8hrs

second leaven: to first leaven add 4L water and 6 kg flour, 1 hr.

third leaven: to second leaven add 8L water and 18 kg flour, 2 hrs and it is ready to be used to leaven bread. 

=== 

If you are a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America, you can request a volume from them titled 

Sourdough Seminar, Printed Materials, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1993. 

There is about a dozen of different methods of work from three leavens for wheat breads in that volume, including 2 for San-Francisco French Bread. 

===

Work from three leavens for rye breads is described in German and other European bread baking literature and in specialized literature on rye starters. For example, 

The Three-Phase Method (the three-phase rye sour) is described on pp122-124 in Schunemann and Treu (2001) Baking, The Art and Science. A Practical handbook for the Baking Industry, published in Canada. 

And in Brandt, Ganzle, Spicher (2006) Handbuch Sauerteig, published in Germany. 

best wishes, 

m. 

 

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

Good lord, I wish I could leave effusive emoticons.  And I'd need another thousand lives to scratch the thinnest surface veil.  Every query yields an entire other world to learn on this site.

Thank you so much for the posts mariana, et al.  My wife is Estonian, and farmhouse fermentative ways are things her grandparents grew up with and have kept alive.  This is such incredible lore and wealth.  Former chef, deeply enamored of culinary history as well, you bit me with the middle ages connection, mariana.  I have to try and track down the texts.  Boulangerie Moderne is top on my list.

The three stage rye process  - is this the Dettmolder process as described in Hamelman, or something else?

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Paul, 

I understand how you feel!

Detmolder is not from the family of the three leavens. The three leavens method is comprised of three rather short steps, all three accomplished under 24hrs.

Detmolder is a special way to prepare the sourdough starter for baking where one of the stages of maturing the starter after feeding it lasts15-24hrs yet the starter doesn't spoil, doesn't become excessively acidic or "oily" (i.e. no damaged gluten despite such a long time w/o stirring or feeding or refrigerating the starter)..

Detmolder method can have one, two or three steps (one, two or three consecutive  starter refreshments/builds), but one of those steps would be long, 15-24hrs long, so that the baker can rest, take a break. And the other steps, if any, would be rather brief. Detmolder method applies both for rye and wheat starters, for rye, wheat and mixed grain breads.

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

Great, thanks for the info, mariana.  My only exposure to the Detmolder process has been through Hamelman, made the 80-90% rye several times (my Estonian wife's family love their rye breads).  Your above material is very fascinating stuff.

I feel I must start over, with basics!  That means choosing from among Hamelman, Leader, Reinhart (read them all; it doesn't matter) and now, DiMuzio, having gotten his book.  I always baked rather haphazardly through them, largely Hamelman; and am more and more aware how literally little I know.  You and so many others - thanks for your generosity here.  "School" will necessarily include going back to the beginning here, from among so many posts.

Thank you again.

Edit: To the list of teachers, besides yourself and others here and the "core" people I mention above, I have to include Trevor J, Wilson, whose book and videos have been fantastic as well.

 

Edit 2:  Calvel of course!,

(sorry for the off-topic posts, OP).

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

This is very helpful.  Thank you for the detailed description and references.  I'll need to give some AI translators a try to read through some of the links you provided, and will give Omer's approach a try after I finish "raising" this simpler LKBB style starter.  I'm looking forward to achieving the signature flavor I've read about, and this feels like a concrete path forward.  I have not seen the approach of alternating stiff and cold with wet and warm builds before, which is quite different than the approaches described in the books I have.  That would seem to create a very different starter.  I typically bake 2 or 3 times a week with my faux-desem, so I build in enough extra starter each time to keep the process going and have not bound it or stored it in the colder refrigerator as Thom Leonard describes.  I have been curious if there are any beneficial aspects to scheduled periods of dormancy (beyond just storage and convenience).  Leonard doesn't provide any motivation for why the binding is done.  What does the process accomplish?  You mention a pH of 4.5 after day 6.  Does this pertain to subsequent builds (more or less)?  I have assumed a higher pH is generally desirable for more sensitive whole grain doughs and have been attempting to train the starter to double at a similar relatively high pH, but haven't seen any mention of pH in the books I have, although The Bread Builders does mention a final bread pH of 4.2.

I'll try to apply this before asking any more questions.  Thanks again.

mariana's picture
mariana

Alternating chef and levain is not done for starter culture, the culture is developed in cold anaerobic conditions before the levain is attempted. The levain stage is simply for testing its leavening power at room temperature, to know when our desem is done, because in baking we don't really use the chef, the mother dough culture, but levain and/or bread dough that ferments at room temp or higher. No one bakes bread from desem. 

Dormancy (due to cold or to excessive acidity) is not beneficial to the culture, for the microbes it's the necessary evil: to be able to survive cold and high osmotic pressure. It is only beneficial for the baker - to be able to take a break from nursing the culture and come back to work having a working healthy culture to rely on.

For the culture periods of cold are not beneficial, but influential. Some recipes for creating starters from scratch include many (as in desem) or at least one cold step, because cold selects yeast cells with better leavening power. 

Binding of Italian starters (or their storage in water) or of desem is done to protect gluten and to keep fermentation anaerobic. A bound starter will puff up a bit, as much as it can since it's bound, and then, eventually, relax. That is how you know it's time to refresh. But there is no irreversible damage to its gluten which happens if you let it rise freely and then it collapses, unattended. 

Whole grain doughs require lower pH since they are baked with flour significantly contaminated with tons of undesirable bacteria. Low pH blocks contamination, rotting of bread dough and spoilage of baked bread. Generally speaking, pH (how acidic it is to taste) is irrelevant (unless it's trademark, as in San-Francisco French bread), TTA (full flavor, aroma) is. Professional bakers don't track pH at all. They either track TTA or (in German rye baking) both TTA and pH. 

My only professional guide for pH comes from Raymond Calvel. He says that the starter (medium consistency, T55) is "ready" both in bacterial and in yeasty sense when it's pH is about 4.5 (4.4-4.6 to be exact) and it more than quadruples in 6 hrs after feeding it. Basically it means both that the culture is ready and that it is time to refresh the starter then, because below pH 4.0 sourdough bacteria won't reproduce anymore, only yeast will continue to multiply. So I learned to test ALL of my starters like that, by making a small sponge with white bread flour inoculated with whatever starter I am developing and seeing if it at least  quadruples after 6 hrs at 27C and reaches pH of 4.4-4.6

best wishes, 

m. 

 

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

Alternating chef and levain is not done for starter culture, the culture is developed in cold anaerobic conditions before the levain is attempted. The levain stage is simply for testing its leavening power at room temperature, to know when our desem is done

I may be misreading this comment, but I want to make sure I understand.  From your description above, my understanding is that the warm levain days are still used to continue propagating the culture (i.e., a portion of the ripe warm levain build is used to inoculate the stiff chef build the following day) but the warm levain days are added primarily to judge leavening power, so one could also continue feeding the stiff chef at low temperature in parallel with the levain builds on the same day, but it would just be more wasteful.  Once it is deemed powerful enough for leavening, the warm soft levain day builds are not required for regular maintenance.  Is that right?

mariana's picture
mariana

Right. : ) 

We just want to catch the moment it is ready to bake, to inoculate the real levain, which we will use in bread baking. That is my take on it.  Our goal and primary purpose in life is not starter-making, but bread-baking, isn't it? :)))

One day cold and one day warm for 2-3 days in a row will not change the microbial culture, it will still be the cold desem culture.

This is what Omer Gevaert wrote about inoculating leaven with desem; for him it seems that it was an integral part of training/developing his starter. He was calling it 'easing the process': 

Making a leaven for a bread dough. At the outset, you should make it difficult for the leaven [a combination of fresh flour, water and some of the starter described in the preceding section] to develop; later you ease the process.

So first, make the dough dry and cold (17° C, 63°F); store it in a linen cloth. Later, when you add the final flour and water for the finished amount of dough, make it warmer (24°C, 75°F) and wetter, so wet that a machine cannot bring it together.

In the past, leaven was always made with salt. My experience is that that it will give better results. NOTE I didn't salt my leaven(s) when I was developing desem nor do I add salt when I make a preferment with desem. Our flour in Canada and Canadian wheat in general are very healthy and hardy, starters and preferments don't deteriorate as they mature. European and especially Northen European wheats back then were much weaker and with higher amounts of enzymes due to larger proportions of spouted grain in the mix, so salt was necessary to protect gluten. 

Once it is ready, desem simply lives and multiplies as usual, at 15C forever, fed once a day, or should you take a break from baking, once a week, if it is chilled down to the regular refrigerator temperatures. Or once every 3-6 months if you dried your desem. 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

So... Today was eventful!

In between emails and meetings, I tracked Ruth pretty carefully today. Checking on her every few hours starting after her feed at 9.20am. And boy has she been busy!

9.20am: I began with 300g 100% hydration starter from yesterday. I removed 150g and set aside (more on that later). Fed Ruth with 100g Flour (50/50 Wholegrain Rye and Wholewheat) + 100g tepid water.

Separately, I decided to feed the discard in a separate container and create a backup starter which will reside in the freezer. Something of an insurance policy should Ruth run into any trouble. His name is Lazarus. Below you can see him hanging out with Ruth just after their breakfast this morning.

12.20pm Checked on Ruth and Laz. Rising has commenced. Laz is destined for cryostasis shortly before he completely peaks, allowing for a tiny bit of food (unmunched flour) to remain in the mix for the yeasts to get munching on straight away as he is thawing and comes up to temp. Ruth is just hanging out bubbling away.

13.30pm: Laz has gone to the tundra he calls home. Ruth's about to bust the lid of her jar right off the hinges. Time to think about what the heck I'm going to do with this starter. I wasn't planning on baking anything with it just yet, as common sense and people smarter than me tell me it's probably still a little early... but rebellion beckons. I scoop out about 125g starter from Ruth. This is conveniently enough for a single test loaf, but I would never dream of doing such a thing so prematurely. That would be crazy. This is also enough to knock Ruth back to her rubber band Marker. This is what she looked like shortly before.

15:20: Not one to be held back, Ruth continues to reach for the sky and has partially risen back up despite having over half her volume scooped out earlier. I estimate this to be about as high as she's going to get today. By my calculations, she about tripled in volume in just under 8 hours. Ignore the tub in the background. That is most definitely not an ill-advised batch of bread dough doing a bulk fermentation. Nothing to see over there.

I think it's safe to say Ruth is on her way to being a sturdy little starter! :D

mariana's picture
mariana

It is good that you are thinking about setting a portion aside as a backup, CurlyBaker. I would only remind you that everything you do at that point will affect that backup portion's microflora.

For example, you could dry, refrigerate or freeze portions of Lazarus.

If you dry it, then only those species or strains that survive drying and rehydration process will be left in it. You probably know that different yeasts don't survive rehydration that well. Some strains are more capricious than others and require not just any water, but 40-43C water for rehydration. 

If you refrigerate Lazarus, then only those species that do ok in that temp zone will survive. Bacteria and yeasts react to cold differently as you know. Refrigerator is designed to block bacterial spoilage of foods and stop fermentation, so it will exert selective pressure on Lazarus's microflora. It won't be the same as Ruth's.

Freezing is the same. Many starters don't survive freezing, especially if your freezer is set up to temperatures warmer than minus 20C. In lab setting, they freeze pure microbial cultures at minus 80C to guarantee preservation of species and strains. So, after freezing, Lazarus could be used only as a bread improver, to acidify and flavor yeasted bread dough, not to inoculate it with live microflora.

Your best bet for the backup is to dry Lazarus imho. Refrigeration and freezing are really not appropriate at that stage.

Some mature starters won't survive drying-rehydration process, but those are super rare, like one in a million.

Anyways, try any or all three methods and see what you learn from it and what you find the most convenient. In my opinion, creating new starters from scratch is so easy and so effortless, I wouldn't even bother with making a backup portion. Those are good and necessary only for mature starters with established unique microbiota and oustanding flavor or performance profiles.

We are all very happy for you and your starter here, CurlyBaker. Please, keep us updated! And, of course, show us your baking, baked goodies as well. Starters on their own are fascinating and beautiful, but meaningless. The goal is always bread, good bread is our goal.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Especially you, Mariana! Without you it wouldn't have been possible.

I think this concludes my starter troubleshooting journey. Ruth is going to be fed and nurtured so much better thanks to the advice I've gotten here. I also intend to dry and preserve some of her as a second backup too.

In spite of advice telling me that I should hold off on baking with her yet, I did rebel a little and took the new and improved Ruth on her maiden voyage yesterday. Baked it early this morning after a cold proof overnight. It wasn't without its challenges as sourdough bread is in a completely different universe to regular yeasted dough, it seems. My shaping is trash. Scoring even worse. I may have slightly over-fermented during bulk, and I need to play around with flour blends and hydration. But for my first try at a sourdough loaf, I very proud of it!

And to think I was dangerously close to giving up on Ruth at the beginning of the week...

Here's to many more future threads documenting everyone's baking adventures. Much love and gratitude from this Curly London Baker. 

 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

WOW that is a beautiful loaf, and with such young starter, you did really well, congrats!

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Aww you guys are the nicest. I was bracing myself for a mishapen brick but I owe this pleasant surprise all to you and Ruth!

I appreciate all of your kind words and am looking forward to improving. Creating surface tension was hard as the dough was super sticky (over fermentation and I introduced a little too much water when handling it for the folds I think). It didn't come out of the fermenting bowl cleanly like it should and took a lot of extra flour to handle. So shaping was hard work and scoring the split for the ear was a little jagged. Still, these are all lessons for next time and part of the fun of learning!

I can confirm it tastes amazing! :D

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

wow!  Definitely a show stopper!  

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow, that is one of the prettiest first loafs I’ve even seen posted here.  You even have the decorative scoring on it.  So impressed especially for a first loaf and a very new starter, I guess it was ready after all.

Benny

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Thanks Benny! I'd be lying if I told you that the pretty scoring wasn't half the reason I got interested in sourdough. I hope I can make it better along with my baking technique! 😊

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Some people bake for years (me?), and never achieve a loaf like that.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

I find that hard to believe, Dan. I bet you could make better than this in your sleep! 🤣

justkeepswimming's picture
justkeepswimming

What a beautiful bread!! I am experiencing bread envy, lol. That oven spring is fantastic, and the crust color is perfect! How is the flavor? 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

It's delicious. Just a mild sourness which is what I like. A bit of bounce and bite to the crumb without being gummy, it could stand to be fluffier though which is what I'll work on next with my bread technique. The chewy crispy crust is the true star or the show. Half of it is already gone. And it's just been me eating it lol. I've resolved to save the rest for tomorrow. I may try and bake another on Sunday.

justkeepswimming's picture
justkeepswimming

It's just hubby and I here. Pacing ourselves on how fast we go thru bread has become a requirement, lol.  It took a while, but eventually we developed the habit of making sure to have some sort of tasty bread at the ready for when a fresh loaf is baking. It doesn't seem to matter if it's something just thawed out of the freezer, or we make toast from the last bit of the bread on hand. We could both easily go through it all in a day.... but we can't afford a new wardrobe. 😁 (Bonus, that habit makes it easier to not cut into the fresh loaf until the next morning.)

 

mariana's picture
mariana

I never expected you to bake a loaf of French bread, CurlyLondonBaker. Pain de Campagne! Wow, so stylish! I can only imagine how good it smells in your kitchen now!

My very first starter was Italian, so my very first bread was pane cafone, I will remember it forever. I am sure you will remember this first one forever as well. And Ruth B.G. of course. We all will remember her : )  She is such an honest and hard-working little starter. 

Happy baking! May your starter and your breads keep you happy and well fed forever. 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Even now, you're still imparting knowledge! I just read up about Pain de Campagne! It's gorgeous bread and I had no idea that's what this particular style of sourdough was called!

You're so helpful and patient. Ruth and I are eternally grateful. 😊

 

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

Stunning loaf.  Your scoring is beautiful.  Do you have any pics of your scoring, pre-bake?  Thought I'd seen it somewhere on the site.

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Hi! And thank you. That's lovely of you to say. Unfortunately I didn't take any pics of it pre-bake as I was hurrying to try and get it in the oven quickly and was worried it would deflate. But I'm going to make another this weekend so will do the same pattern and be sure to capture it and post it here!

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

Yumm!

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

Hi again! As promised, I made another loaf this weekend and used the same scoring technique. It was a tiny bit trickier this time as I had added inclusions to my dough (toasted walnuts and cranberries) and I'm still finding my courage where shaping is concerned so didn't make this loaf tight enough (not enough surface tension) but the scoring came out more or less the same. Hope it's helpful to you!

Gadjowheaty's picture
Gadjowheaty

Beautiful!  Thanks.  Your scoring is wonderful.  I need to work on my wheat sheaves, leaves, stems, etc.  Always comes out way too broad and ugly, even when I think I.ve cut shallow (if that's even the issue).  

 

Paul

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

There's some great video tutorials and scoring ideas to be found on Instagram. Honestly, that's where I'm getting lots of my info and fellow insta-bakers are generally really friendly and helpful. Once I nail down a good consistent shaping technique which gives me adequate tension, I'm looking forward to being able to branch out into more creative patterns! Right now I'm sticking to quick ones which don't result in too much deflation.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Curly, so nice to see you back with the new loaf! It's a beautiful way to score, for sure. I will copy it in my kitchen : )))

How's Ruth doing? Is she different today from back then? 

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

She's doing brilliantly thanks Mariana! She's still rising like a champ. I took her out of the fridge on Thursday expecting her to need a day or so to perk up before for my weekend bakes and to my surprise, she sprang to life in a couple of hours! Even without her heatpad! She's made amazing pizza, two more loaves, waffles, and even a cake today! She's fabulous and I'm so grateful to you for all your help with her. 😊

headupinclouds's picture
headupinclouds

That's a nice-looking loaf with your young starter.  I'm looking forward to the sequel!

CurlyBaker's picture
CurlyBaker

That sequel may already be partially in progress 🤣