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Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting (Part 1)


adrober
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my starter started this way but after a week or two it started having a good smell and has been great ever since. So I think you are on the right track.

Michael - Hope the bread turned out well! When I don't have a banneton to hand I just use a bowl lined with a linen tea-towel dusted with flower. Works really well for me.

dan

Edited by DanielBerman (log)
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It seems to me that my sourdough starter died on me. I suspect some condition made the culture inhabitable for the yeast or something. My sponges all smell and taste sour, but no froth or nice layer of bubbles on the top.

My doughs dont rise anymore, and 12 hours is needed for a sponge to almost double. I suspect all the Co2 I get is from the LB. bacteria.

I usually use about 40g of my starter culture to about 200g of flour for my sponge. Should I try to make a sponge with my entire batch of starter? When I feed it, it looks kind of promising, it's the sponges that doesn't "take off" like before. The anemic sponges is completely usless as a leavining agent, and every baking atemt goes down the drain! (I feel so sorry for myself now! *grin*)

Have anyone recovered from such a situation? Start over?

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All I can say is that I made a completely useless atempt at building a starter from Apple peel... I'll never go down that road again. It was hard work I tell'ya! :-)

My starter is OK, but just as an experiment, I'm thinking about making the "barm" from BBA, starting with only rye. It will be interesting to see how it compares with the starter that I already have. :wink:

Just a simple southern lady lost out west...

"Leave Mother in the fridge in a covered jar between bakes. No need to feed her." Jackal10

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It seems to me that my sourdough starter died on me. I suspect some condition made the culture inhabitable for the yeast or something. My sponges all smell and taste sour, but no froth or nice layer of bubbles on the top.

My doughs dont rise anymore, and 12 hours is needed for a sponge to almost double. I suspect all the Co2 I get is from the LB. bacteria.

I usually use about 40g of my starter culture to about 200g of flour for my sponge. Should I try to make a sponge with my entire batch of starter? When I feed it, it looks kind of promising, it's the sponges that doesn't "take off" like before. The anemic sponges is completely usless as a leavining agent, and every baking atemt goes down the drain! (I feel so sorry for myself now! *grin*)

Have anyone recovered from such a situation? Start over?

Of course, you could start over.... But I would try to rescue the starter by multiple feedings to see if I could get it to regain its robust nature. I just cringe when I think of throwing it out... My starter is like a member of my family (Oh my, I'm a sad case aren't I?) :huh:

Just a simple southern lady lost out west...

"Leave Mother in the fridge in a covered jar between bakes. No need to feed her." Jackal10

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It seems to me that my sourdough starter died on me. I suspect some condition made the culture inhabitable for the yeast or something. My sponges all smell and taste sour, but no froth or nice layer of bubbles on the top.

My doughs dont rise anymore, and 12 hours is needed for a sponge to almost double. I suspect all the Co2 I get is from the LB. bacteria.

I usually use about 40g of my starter culture to about 200g of flour for my sponge. Should I try to make a sponge with my entire batch of starter? When I feed it, it looks kind of promising, it's the sponges that doesn't "take off" like before. The anemic sponges is completely usless as a leavining agent, and every baking atemt goes down the drain! (I feel so sorry for myself now! *grin*)

Have anyone recovered from such a situation? Start over?

I would do as Cajungirl suggested for the recovery of your starter. I would suggest that you use about 80g of starter to 200g of flour for your sponge, this represents 40% starter in bakers terms but as for the overall sponge percentage it will reduce to about 25%, and this is within the recommended range.

Kind regards

Bill

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After 26 years of baking sourdough and experimenting along the way with all forms of making starters, I have found that for me just flour and water is the most reliable method. Whether you start with unbleached white flour or rye flour is up to you, be prepared to have a failure or two along the way, and be patient with feeding your new starter until it is truly strong, I usually advise not to bake with a new starter until it is at least 3 weeks old.

You will find that there is sufficient wild yeast in the flour, captured as the grain is growing, to innoculate your starter, and if you leave it in an open bowl near an open window it should capture enough of the local lactobacillus variety to quickly innoculate your starter and provide protection.

Kind regards

Bill

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My starter is like a member of my family (Oh my, I'm a sad case aren't I?)

No No , you are not a sad case , my husband call my sourdough starters ,the "sour babies", because they are my little babies I have to attend and yes I would to try to revive my sourdough as well,"never give up never surrender".

:laugh::raz:

And here I would like to ask the experts, the fact that Glenn sourdough lost strenght could be because his starter was made of grapes?( where they grapes or apples??) Apples I think :huh: .I have seen some of the experts here saying that the better starters are from flour and water and nothing else , because the fruit or whatever else you feed it it wont last too long etc?Is that possible ?

Thank you , just for info I was actually thinking about this matter not long ago.

Edited by Desiderio (log)

Vanessa

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I would do as Cajungirl suggested for the recovery of your starter. I would suggest that you use about 80g of starter to 200g of flour for your sponge, this represents 40% starter in bakers terms but as for the overall sponge percentage it will reduce to about 25%, and this is within the recommended range.

Thanks bill, I'll try that. I'l lalso start feeding and stiring my stater every day for a while and see how it goes. It's been along since my first futile sourdough experiments back in April, so I've gotten quite attached to it :-)

My wife doesn't understand that I'm reluctant to flush it down like a dead goldfish... How strange :-)

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My wife doesn't understand that I'm reluctant to flush it down like a dead goldfish... How strange :-)

Starters are strange things, and having a whole family of them I can vouch for the fact that they have their individual likes and dislikes. I went into this subject in some depth on another forum, but for the sake of brevity I'll just say that some of my starters prefer to be kept at 100% hydration, some at 166%, some are quite happy with feeding at 24 hour intervals, and one that gets positively sulky if it is not fed every 12 hours.

May I suggest that, if you have the time, you experiment to find the most favourable condititions and feeding regimen for your starter. You may find the time spent to be very rewarding.

Kind regards

Bill

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Out of all the sourdough stuff I've read over the past few years, only one source has recommended using anything but flour and water for making and maintaining a sourdough culture (Nancy Silverton -- the grapes method) .

It's my experience too, that the development of flavor takes awhile. Like months. Or weeks, anyway. To try to boost the actual culture with anything else will probably just keep your culture from developing properly in the long run. I tried that myself in the beginning and ended up throwing it out finally, even when it seemed to work in the short term.

I know a number of bakers who are in the artisan bread business (as am I), and that's how we all do it. Flour and water. We each have different ways of using the actual culture and maintaining it, but the one thing that doesn't vary is the basic composition of the culture itself. One bakery refreshes its sourdough three times a day, another refreshes four times a day, currently I refresh mine once a day, and others have other schedules that work for them.

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Close to where I live, a low-price grocery store has temaed up with a local company called "French bakery" to sell fresh baked 100% hand made sourdough bread. Nice!

I tasted one of their loaves yesterday, and the "sour" taste was very subtle. Almost like a regular loaf, with the sourdough only used as a leavening agent. (With the regular benefits of extended shelf life etc. of course).

How is this done? Is it a "quick" loaf? Less time gives less by-products (Aceatic acid, right?) Or does the starter cultures just produce different kind of tasting bread? (I cannot really see how this is possible from a scientific point of view!)

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Close to where I live, a low-price grocery store has temaed up with a local company called "French bakery" to sell fresh baked 100% hand made sourdough bread.  Nice!

I tasted one of their loaves yesterday, and  the "sour" taste was very subtle. Almost like a regular loaf, with the sourdough only used as a leavening agent. (With the regular benefits of extended shelf life etc. of course).

How is this done? Is it a "quick" loaf? Less time gives less by-products (Aceatic acid, right?) Or does the starter cultures just produce different kind of tasting bread? (I cannot really see how this is possible from a scientific point of view!)

This is what I keep telling people who express reservations about "sourdough," people who think the sourdough they've been buying is real sourdough as opposed to the sourdough flavoring that too many commercial breadbakers try to pass off as genuine sourdough breads, and which also use commercial yeast in conjunction with the "sourdough" flavoring agents.

And it's why I use the term "naturally-leavened" more than I use the term "sourdough," because too many people mistake the term. The term "sourdough" is simply misunderstood too often as meaning "sour" or very strong tasting bread. It's not. Or not necessarily.

And so people are very surprised when they discover my breads have a soft, lovely flavor, not "sour."

I love my sourdough starter and I love really good sourdoughs that aren't "sour." I also use the long fermentations (two days), so these aren't quick breads at all.

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my loaves don't come out very sour at all. I don't know why. I wouldn't mind more sour.

I mix the dough and use perhaps 20% sourdough poolish, then I refrigerate immediately and retard for 1 or 2 days. Then I bulk ferment at cool room temperature, proof and bake. It doesn't taste very sour although it is delicious. I would love more sour flavor in it (naturally of course.)

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If you want a sour loaf ferment out the preferment sponge more.

Most of the flavour comes from the preferment, rather than from the dough step. You can adjust the parameters (e.g. 90F, 50% hydration) to give optimum flavour during peferement. During the dough step you need conditions to give optimum rise instead.

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I totally agree that sourdough does no equal "sour", and that "naturally leavened" is a much better term. Most of my SD bread come out in the "middle range", based on what I have tasted so far.

Jack; thanks for the tip about the preferment being the major factor in sourness. I'll experiment with some parameters, and see if I can produce different results.

The thing that struck me with the loaf I tasted from my grocery store, was that I couldn't have, by blind tasting, decided if it was a SD or not. It contained Rye that also have a slight sourness to it, so I could have mistaken it for that...

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My starter is like a member of my family (Oh my, I'm a sad case aren't I?)

No No , you are not a sad case , my husband call my sourdough starters ,the "sour babies", because they are my little babies I have to attend and yes I would to try to revive my sourdough as well,"never give up never surrender".

:laugh::raz:

And here I would like to ask the experts, the fact that Glenn sourdough lost strenght could be because his starter was made of grapes?( where they grapes or apples??) Apples I think :huh: .I have seen some of the experts here saying that the better starters are from flour and water and nothing else , because the fruit or whatever else you feed it it wont last too long etc?Is that possible ?

Thank you , just for info I was actually thinking about this matter not long ago.

I have rescued starters like this this before. I would have 2 tips -

1. You want to 'wash' the starter - so empty more than half of the starter out, and re-feed to full size, every six hours (if you can) for couple of days. This can help to get rid of any contaminants.

2. Then feed every 12-24 hours to really get the culture active again. Once its really frothing you should be good to go again.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was wondering if someone could help me out - I'm making my first-ever starter following the Nancy Silverton method (organic grapes in cheesecloth). At day three, my starter smells very strongly of cheese and is very liquidy. I decided this is bad, so I tossed the grapes and started feeding it. I'm wondering:

1. am I right in assuming this is bad?

2. and if so, what could have gone wrong?

3. should I attempt to fix it or should I start over?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. :smile:

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Waiting for the experts ,I can tell you that some of them will tell you to make a starter only with flour and water, that you dont wnat to deal with fruit or anything else in you sourdough,it encourage the wrong bacteria etc etc.

I have done a sourdough just out of rye flour and water , and its fine , easy to keep , I usually forget about it in the fridge for weeks and he still forgives me :rolleyes: .But like I have said wati for the expert to come to your rescue and good luck.

Vanessa

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Thanks everyone!

I admit that I also tried the starter in The Cook's Book, which I believe involved yogurt. That one was even worse as it smelled like rotten milk within one day. It sounds like the simpler approach works best. So back to the drawing board!

I had a great starter once - received during the eGCI class. Unfortunately, during one of my many moves, it got tossed out.

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I was wondering if someone could help me out - I'm making my first-ever starter following the Nancy Silverton method (organic grapes in cheesecloth).  At day three, my starter smells very strongly of cheese and is very liquidy. I decided this is bad, so I tossed the grapes and started feeding it. I'm wondering:

1. am I right in assuming this is bad?

2. and if so, what could have gone wrong?

3. should I attempt to fix it or should I start over?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  :smile:

i use sourdough starters everyday. the way you were starting your starter was right. it does start to smell at first but when you toss the grapes out and start feeding it two to three times a day it will get better. actually the way you're doing it is a really good starter. i'vemade this one before and was really happy with the bread i ended up with.

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I ended up tossing out the grapes as well as a good majority of the starter. Then fed it once and let it sit untouched for a few days (mostly cause I went out of town). It smells fantastic now (like sourdough instead of funky cheese), so I think I am on track. Now on to the next step...

Thanks again, everyone, for the assistance.

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