The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

everything went wrong

Rempejek's picture

everything went wrong

I changed too much in one go.

First off, I got gas oven and got fairly good results with baking on quarry stone, uncovered, but spraying water at loading the loaf and 8-10 minutes later.

Now I thought maybe take out AP flour for higher protein content, add wheat malt for better rise, knead because my flour can't hold as much water as an USA flour. Oh, and make starter/levain (always struggle with this bit of terminology) more active.

So there we went from

200 gr 100% starter/levain

200 gr each brown/AP/Bread flour

355 gr water

14 gr salt (to get what I would call 65% hydration)

Mix all without salt, after 20 minutes add salt, leave for 40-45 minutes then s&f 40-45 minutes apart. Leave for another 30, then to fridge. Out the next day, shape, pre heat oven and bake.


New plan

200 gr starter/levain

50 brown flour

550 bread flour

5 gr wheat malt

355 water.

Mix (except salt), stand for 20 minutes. Put salt and knead for 15 minutes by hand till the dough more or less lets go of your hands

Let stand for 30 minutes, 1 s & f.

It's hot, so put dough to fridge overnight (too early? Even though it is 36 oC?)

Next morning remove. It's 14.5 oC outside, so my house is the same temp. Dough looks flat. Shaped and put into banneton for extended proof. Actually till about 13.00 as dough seems to spring back somewhat (too long maybe). Put in oven, spray. Bread looks flat but scored slashed open up nicely. 2nd water spray. No rise.

And to top it all off... I have run out of gas.

I put it down to one of those days.

I think each individual change wasn't too bad, but all together.

Sort of warning to everyone. I go back to original recipe once I got gas again and only change the flour

Abe's picture

And what connection is the salt to the hydration?

And how do you get 65% hydration? 

Rempejek's picture


600 gr flour + 100 from the starter/levain

355 water + 100 from the starter/levain

455/700 = 65%

2% salt = 0.02 x 700 = 14 gr

Abe's picture

Oops... when I saw brown/AP/Bread Flour i mistook that for 400g. So yes, 600g and 14g salt is within a good range. 

Often when I see AP/Bread Flour i'm thinking its just interchangeable as supposed to AP + Bread Flour. 

AP in the UK is not the same as AP in the US which is about the same as our Bread Flour. We don't really have an AP flour. It's either plain (aka cake) flour, bread or strong bread flour. Dont go for plain flour thinking it's AP. 

Rempejek's picture

Thanks Abe,

Yeah figured that, hence the move to almost all bread flour. Just went totally wrong this time due to too many changes.

We got AP (or house hold flour), bread, brown, cake and self raising. Nothing more and only the industrial type.

Doing the best I can to find some grain so I can mill some (mulimo roller grain mill).

I only got wheat malt as I brought it in for use in my beer brewing exercises

Abe's picture

Yes, bread flour all the way even when a recipe from the USA says AP flour. 

I'm sure it'll have far better results. 

Best of luck. 

Keep the 'AP', cake and self raising for cakes and biscuits. Is your brown flour high gluten? Just making sure it's not Wholemeal plain flour. 

Rempejek's picture

No info on the brown flour. It's very light brown, and contains no bran. Other than that, who knows?

mariana's picture


When you feed your 100% hydration starter 1:6 (50g starter to 300 fresh dough, both 100% hydration), how long does it take for it to quadruple in volume (to rise to the max)? At what temperature?

How long does it take for your mature starter to double in volume after you punch it down (stir vigorously)to its initial volume?

A mature 100% hydration starter that peaked and was stirred will double under one hour at 20-25C. If not, if it lakes longer than one hour to double, let it rise to the max again, to proliferate more yeast cells and test it again. Only when it reliably doubles under one hour at 20-25C it is mature enough to be used in a bread dough, to leaven bread doigh.

Once you understand your starter, you will understand your bread dough and why it behaved that way.

Essentially, what you did is

1) feeding your starter 1:6 (100g flour in starter : 605g flour in "feed", i.e. added to make bread dough),

2) suppressed its yeast by changing its environment:  lowering hydration, adding salt and placing it in the fridge at 4C which is designed to stop microbial activity and

3) later it went to another cold environment , @ 14C, where even without salt a starter or bread dough would take full three days to mature and rise.

That is why your bread dough and your bread in the oven did not rise.

Test your starter first and see what it is capable of in your current environment before you design your bread and try to bake it.

Rempejek's picture

I definitely need to work more with the starter. And put in a smaller jar so it's more easy to see how much it rises.

Temperature is just what the outside temperature does. I got no way to control except for a fridge and a freezer. Or a cooler box.

I've not checked timings either.

As for my process this time:

Day 1

Fed my "base" starter with 50 water and 50 ap flour, took out 100 gr and put in a clean jar.  "Base" starter went back to fridge

"Work" starter got another 50/50 feed, and was left outside (temp approx 34 oC and cooling down)

Day 2:

Starter was more or less doubled and got fed 100/100 gram (temp 14 oC)

6 hours later (33 oC), mixed starter with flours, water and wheat malt.

30 min autolyse

Then 15 minute knead (34oC), made into a more or less ball.

30 minute rest, then 1 S&F (nice gluten, but clayish dough) and moved to fridge as now temp is 36 oC

Day 3

Removed from fridge (14.5 oC outside), removed 160 gr dough for a pizza, shaped the remainder into a batard and placed in banneton, covered with couch and plastic bag. (Here I already knew things were going wrong and tried to recover with a long proof)

Left for 6 hours. Tried poke test, but difficult to see*

Preheated oven and baked. Strange bread but weird enough, it's very tasty, but looks like ciabatta with very small holes

* Temperatures in this period

07.00 - 14.5 oC

08.20 - 20 oC

09.00 - 23 oC

10.10 - 27.5 oC

10.45 - 32 oC

12.35  - 34 oC (pre heat oven)

13.00 - 35 oC (start bake)


mariana's picture

Thank you for the details, Rempejek.

Please, consider the following changes

1) When writing about feeding your starter, please indicate how much starter you are feeding. You indicated the amount of feed, but not the amount of starter. Write

Starter: flour : water

For example, 100g starter : 50g flour : 50g water

Or 10g starter: 50g flour : 50g water,


2) Switch your starter to bread flour with 2% diastatic malt added to it (98 g flour+2g diastatic malt). If you do not have diastatic malt, use non-diastatic malt at 5% level or malt extract at 5% level or sugar at 3% level..


3) When you mix your starter or bread dough while it is hot in the kitchen, use ice cold water. When it is cold, use warm water. Aim at 20-25C final temperature of the starter or bread dough at the end of mixing. 

Do not ever knead  a 35C bread dough. Never autolyze at such temp ether. Autolyse inside refrigerator. Should you accidentally mix your starter or bread dough too warm, chill them in the fridge first for 30mn, until they reach 20C then knead.

4) Starter should be kneaded as thoroughly as bread dough for its gluten to form and develop a bit. Then you can see a 100%hydration starter to triple and quadruple as it rises and check its leavening power when ripe by stirring it and watching it double. Use a fork to whip it , givng it 300 turns, or a handheld mixer. First, mix to homogeneity, then after one hour whip it. Then leave it alone to rise to the max volume.

5) You have a degree of temperature control even in cold or hot weather. Use warm or cold water, use a food thermos, it keeps temperature even and has a wide mouth, use you fridge for brief periods of time to chill it down to 20C then take it out. Then the average temp of fermentation will be about 25-27C. Proofing loaves (before bakng) at 35C and even 40-42C is OK.

Rempejek's picture

Thanks again

1) it was about 50-100 gr starter.

2) I have malt as I brew beer, I have wheat malt and barley malt. I used a little wheat malt in the dough.

As for the starter, it should get some wheat malt every time? Even if it lives in the fridge? Or only when prepping it for baking?

I'll change to bread flour.

3) I'm sure I can work a bit on my timing to get closer to the ideal temperature when doing an autolyse (or not) and mixing the dough. But it is going to heat up afterwards (during the rise and s&f's).

4) I'll try. Sofar I've been mixing it quite thoroughly with chop stick. I'll be mixing it more

5) noted. I was already thinking about using a cooler box. I will have some more control next month or so as I am in the process of getting a fermentation fridge going for my beers. But still awaiting extra solar panels and temperature regulators

Thank you so much for taking the time to teach me. Maybe it was a good thing I messed up as a lot is now getting clearer.

And the bread was edible anyway


mariana's picture

Well, if your starter lives in the fridge, you should add some sugar (3-5% to flour weight) or brewer's malt extract (5-10% to flour weight) to it and cover it with water as it stays refrigerated. Place your starter in the fridge, wait for a day for it to deflate and begin forming a layer of hooch, and pour water on top.

Starter's microflora is lethargic when chilled but not dead, they need food and they release acids and alcohol as they sleep in the fridge or they will starve and die out in huge numbers. Sugar will be their source of food in hibernation, because diastatic malt enzymes stop working at low temperatures and high acidity levels. And water above the starter will serve as a place to release and dilute the excess of acids and alcohol.

Acids suppress lactic bacteria and alcohol is toxic to the sourdough yeasts at certain critical concentrations. So you need an outlet for them. Water, plenty of water above.

When taking your starter out of the fridge, just discard that top layer of tasty water, it will be full of aroma, pleasantly acidic and alcoholic to taste, and use the starter at the bottom as usual.

Examples of refrigerated starters covered with water. 

Liquid starter 130% hydration. At its max volume, after it tripled in volume, and deflated and covered with water. One week later, the color of the water (diluted hooch) is brown because prior to starter's refrigeration I added 10% liquid malt extract to it and as the starter was releasing alcohol and acids into water, color migrated as well.

Stiff starter 60% hydration. It was covered with water and after one week in the fridge it floated on top. The water got super acidic and alcoholic, the starter released tons of that stuff into water.

Prior to using your stiff starter in baking, drain it on a sieve, rinse it with a splash of water and use. It would be undistinguishable from a fresh starter even after one week in a fridge.

Best wishes,



Rempejek's picture

Interesting, and definitely very different from my process. I've just left the starter in the fridge and try to feed it every 2 weeks or so.

I'm going to keep that one going and am going to use your process as well. If only to see the difference.