Wild yeast Sourdough starter not starting

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by nostalgia, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. nostalgia

    nostalgia

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    Morning, all. I'm following the sourdough method in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," and having some difficulty. This is the second time I've tried it (I tried last year) with the exact same results. I was hoping some of you could possibly point me at what I'm doing wrong. All of the fermenting was done in a room that was controlled between 66 and 70 degrees Farenheit.

    What the method says:
    Day 1: Mix rye flour and water. Cover, ferment 24h. Should be little to no activity.
    Day 2: Mix bread flour and water with Day 1 stuff. Cover, ferment 24h. Should be some rise.
    Day 3: Discard half of Day 2 stuff. Mix bread flour and water with remaining. Cover, ferment 24h. Should double in size. If not, give 12 to 24 more hours.
    Day 4: Repeat as Day 3. Should double to triple in size in 4 to 24 hours. The "seed" starter can now be made into the Barm, or mother starter.
    Barm: Mix starter with more flour and water. Ferment 6 hours. Should cause the lid on the fermenting container to swell. Refrigerate.

    What happened:
    Day 1: Went as planned.
    Day 2: Went as planned.
    Day 3: Looked like there was almost a 50% rise and it had fallen. I could see the line it rose to. I gave it an extra 12 hours, but there was no further rise.
    Day 4: Absolutely nothing. Not a millimeter rise. Bubbles on the surface like cooking pancakes.
    Barm: No lid swelling. Bubbles on the surface of the starter.

    The starter smells deliciously sour, and there are bubbles, so I know I'm doing at least something right. I'm just concerned that I won't have enough yeast activity to rise a loaf of bread.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Thanks,

    -Joe
     
  2. kylew

    kylew

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    Day 3: Looked like there was almost a 50% rise and it had fallen. I could see the line it rose to. I gave it an extra 12 hours, but there was no further rise.

    If you could see from the line that it had doubled, and then gave it another 12 hours, your starvin' the poor thing :) As Audrey II said "Feed Me Seymour!"

    Toss half and keep feeding. It can take more than 2 weeks to get a starter strong enough to build a dough with.
     
  3. nostalgia

    nostalgia

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    OK, that was my plan. Thanks for the good news that I haven't irreparably damaged my poor little Audrey II :)

    A follow-up question: How will I know when the starter is strong enough?

    Good reference, btw. Have you seen the Broadway version? It's lots of fun.

    Thanks,

    -Joe
     
  4. kylew

    kylew

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    A healthy, ready to bake with starter will almost triple in about 8 hours. That's how you know.

    I saw the show last year :)
     
  5. nostalgia

    nostalgia

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    Ok, so I'd take it out of the fridge, let it warm up a bit, feed it, then 8 hours from then it'll be trying to take over the kitchen. Got it.

    Thanks again for the advice. I'll let you know how my progress goes. I just had some of the light wheat bread I made from the same book with dinner. Yummmmmmmy :)

    -Joe
     
  6. nostalgia

    nostalgia

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    Well, it's been 2 weeks. I've been feeding my starter every 3 days by halving it, then doubling it with equal parts KA bread flour and water. ie, I throw out all but 1lb of existing starter, and add 8oz flour + 8oz water. Leave it for 6-8 hours at room temp (65-68f) then return to the fridge.

    Action is still sluggish, to say the least. After 6 hours I've got bubbles, and the lid on the container has swollen, but no rise. The starter is the consistency of a thick and sticky poolish.

    Do I toss it and try again? Could it be the flour I started with (medium rye) or that I'm using to refresh?

    Thanks,

    -Joe
     
  7. kylew

    kylew

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    I'm not sure you need to be working with such quantities. I also think you should be feeding much more frequently, at least until your starter is up and running. Here's what I would do:

    Dump all but 2 Oz..
    Add 1 oz each flour and water.
    12 hours later add 2 oz each flour and water
    12 hours later add 4 oz each flour and water
    12 hours later add 8 oz each flour and water
    12 hours later dump all but 2 ounces and repeat the process.
     
  8. sancyr

    sancyr

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    Hi Nostalgia,

    I agree with KyleW on this.

    I wanted to add: When you take your starter out of the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature on your counter (2 hours) before feeding. This lets your little organisms wake up before you give them more food. You can refrigerate immediately after feeding.

    Good luck!

    Sara
     
  9. nostalgia

    nostalgia

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    That's funny, the Bread Baker's Apprentice advocates the opposite. I had been taking it out of the fridge, halving and refreshing, then letting it sit for 8 hours. Then refrigerate.

    I'll try your suggestions and let you know how it goes :)

    Thanks!

    -Joe
     
  10. kylew

    kylew

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    I'm with Sara on this one. I feed my starter and immediately take 2 oz. and put it back in the fridge.