My Journey Into Sourdough Breadmaking (help please)


I'm new to this website and decided to join today and post some photos of my first attempt at sourdough bread. Actually, it's not technically my first attempt to bake sourdough, but it's my first somewhat successful attempt at ending up with what looks like a loaf of bread.



I began a wild yeast starter about 4 or 5 weeks ago. During that time, I fed my start every few days - 1 cup of wholemeal very strong bread flour with 3/4 cup of water (filtered).


A couple of weeks into this sourdough journey, I decided to use 1/2 cup of strong bread white flour and 1/2 cup of wholemeal very strong bread (and 3/4 c of filtered water).


Every time I fed my starter, I attempted to make something out of the cup that I removed, because I'm too cheap to throw it away. We've successfully made pancakes a few times, and we notice they get better each time.


I also attempted to make bread a few times, but the first attempt - the dough was too wet and it spread when baking. It ended up like ciabatta bread - but the crumb was very dense. My husband ate it anyway. He's cheap like that too:). Also, I took half the dough of this batch (which was enough to make two large loaves) and used it to make pizza. Which, incidentally? Was AWESOME! (I highly recommend making pizza from sourdough starter - the flavour and texture is unbeatable in my opinion).


The next batch left me fumbling around with very wet dough. Same recipe - but extremely wet dough (scratched my head a lot that day). In the course of waiting for it to rise or ferment or do something - I watched a very nice French Chef on a video - giving instructions on how to work with wet dough.

Tucking that bit of info under my belt, I attempted his method (slap the dough and fold over - repeating until the dough was 'formed' and no longer sticky). It worked. However, it didn't want to rise so much. Or perhaps I was just too impatient after 6 or 8 hours of waiting. In any case, we ended up with a dense-ish loaf - that didn't really rise much - but at least didn't spread out flat. Apologies for not taking photos up to this point!


I think it was around week 3 that we finally got two decent loaves of bread. It rose. They baked on a shallow baking sheet near each other. I was afraid they would spread. The dough was still wetter than I could manage. However, we did end up with decent bread. Although, it was more like a wheaty crumb, than a proper sourdough crumb. So I was still mildly disappointed.



I noticed the starter got really happy around the time I used half white and half whole meal flour. I'm not sure if it was because I mixed flours, or because a few weeks had passed and it was beginning to mature a little bit.


In any case, I'm now about to begin week 5 - and last night I set out the starter to allow it to get to room temperature. This morning the starter was frothy and happy - with a very strong smelling layer of hooch. I swirled it round - then poured 1 cup of starter into my glass mixing bowl. I added one cup of whole meal flour to that - and about 1/2 cup of water - mixed it - and let it ferment for about 1.5 hours. When I checked it at the 1.5 hour mark, I noticed it had almost doubled in size and I though, 'oh yeh - this starter is definitely tanked and ready to rise me some dough!'


So, I added 4 more cups of very strong whole meal bread flour - and I can't remember how much water. I just added it until it felt right. It was probably around just over a cup. Previously, when I followed exact recipes, it was either too much or too little. So, this time, I thought what the heck - just do what feels right to your hands, figuring, if worse came to worse, we'd be making pizza bases again. Plan B (pizza) is never a bad plan - but I was hoping for a decent loaf of bread.


This is what came out of my oven about 1/2 an hour ago.

I'm about to cut it and see what it looks like inside.


I must add here, that throughout the last few weeks, I've been on a learning curve. Not only in patience, but learning from experimenting with various techniques - how to knead versus folding the dough - slashing (my husband just made me a beautiful oak lame' which worked beautifully) - how to tell when it's proofed enough, but not proofed too much - how to get it from the proofing surface, onto a slide and into the oven without destroying it, and so much more.


I'm still not settled, yet, on any particular way to bake this bread. But, I am encouraged that my starter is maturing nicely. I was able to bake a loaf today that didn't spread, losing its shape.


However, it has ended up looking like regular wheat bread inside:



Apologies for the less than stellar photos (to go with my less than stellar sourdough bread, which I'm not even sure I can call 'sourdough bread'). But I'm sure anyone looking at this, can tell it looks like the crumb of regular [homemade] wheat bread.


I would appreciate any tips you more experienced bakers might have to share.


Incidentally, the flavour is good. Also, I noticed when this loaf rose - it nearly doubled in size. I didn't allow it to rise to double because I didn't want it to fall when transferring to the oven. And that worked well. However, I also noticed after baking - it didn't seem to rise much (if any!) beyond what it had risen while proofing.


Is sourdough supposed to rise more on cooking? Should I slash deeper to allow it to expand more? How can I better handle the dough to achieve the signature sourdough crumb? In essence? What am I doing wrong?




Now, I'm going to bore you with the result of the other half of the dough. I attempted to make sourdough rolls to eat tonight with the chicken soup I made today.


I handled the dough the same as the above loaf. I cut into pieces - let them rest a few minutes - shaped them,  and allowed them to rise. Then, I slashed and baked them.


This is the mess I turned out:


Clearly Clearly, something went wrong because they look like they were just slashed and ready to bake! Believe me - these are cooked! I'm sure my thrifty husband will eat them anyway, with the chicken soup I just made. But I'm stumped as to why they didn't rise.


EDIT to add:

For anyone interested? I baked the loaf in my Aga - in the top right oven (the hot oven) - directly on the base (which is similar to cooking on a baking stone).

My Aga is oil fired - and is constantly on.

Here is a picture for those who are not familar with an Aga (taken in '09 during a cinnamon roll frenzy):


OH how I wish the old bread oven  was still in situ, but alas, someone bricked it in - and removed the dome outside back in the 1950's :(. sigh.....(you can see the wrought iron bread oven door behind the kettle on the top left of the photo; my dear husband restored the rusting old door, so at least it looks nice!)


Here is a better view (taken when the oven was first installed in early '07 - before our kitchen was fully redone):


You see four doors on the front. The top left is the warming over; bottom left is the simmering oven; top right is the roasting oven; and the bottom right is the baking oven. The oven is made of cast iron - so that is the surface I'm cooking on.






Tania 2010 August 7

Hi Lisa,

It looks like we're on a very similar journey here!  My first few loaves came out exactly like yours, I don't know why either so sorry I can't be of much help other than say I feel your pain! And maybe sharing my story might help you feel better :)  Hopefully someone out there can shed some light on our problems.  BTW my starter from about six weeks ago ended up mouldy so out it went, and it was even in the fridge!!!  So I'm on day six of my new starter.  I'm hoping that maybe my first starter was the reason for my lack of rising, dense heavy bread etc.  I will feed my new so far successful starter for another week before I bake with it. 

Best of luck, and hopefully we can get more successful loaves happening on our obsessional sourdough journeys.



Lisa 2010 August 7

Thanks for your reply Tania:).


After posting earlier - I read that some bakers recommend starting a starter using white flour ...and then adding wheat flour once it's established. They claim it works better.


A couple of weeks ago, I halved my feeder into 1/2 c white and 1/2 wholemeal - it has really taken off! So, I'm thinking there is something to that claim! You might try adding half white and half whatever else you're using - in your next feed. When I did this, I also let it sit out overnight on the counter (covered with a very loose/light cloth). The next morning that stuff was FROTHY and smelled nice and yeasty!


I've been meticulous about handling my starter, to keep it 'clean' - or free of nasties. When it's time to feed my starter, I pour I cup out and set aside (to use for whatever I'm making). The rest goes into a large glass measuring jug. In the glass measuring jug, I feed it by adding 1/2 c white strong bread flour and 1/2 c very strong wholemeal bread flour + 3/4 c of water (filtered tap water). I stir with a clean wooden spoon until fairly well mixed (but I frankly, don't worry about a few little lumps). I do not touch the starter in the jug - avoiding the urge to wipe the rim with my fingers - to avoid contaminating it. Immediately cover with a cloth and leave it overnight on the counter...then pour into the now cleaned and sterilised jar - and put in the fridge the next day.

[I sterilise my starter jar and lid by putting them to dry in my warming oven (in the Aga). One could put it in a warm oven after baking something (for about 10 mins or so). Be sure to cool the jar before pouring the starter in or the yeast dies!]


Try some strong white flour and let me know how it goes:), next time you feed it.

rossnroller 2010 August 7

Hard to tell what the problem(s) might be from the information you've given. Maybe you could post your recipe, including dough composition, proof times, baking times and temperatures, and give us an idea of the sort of ambient temps you're baking under at the moment?

It sounds as though you may be underfeeding your starter and that it may not be ripe and ready for leavening bread. If you're getting hooch, it's underfed. I keep mine in the fridge between bakes, and take it out and feed it up twice daily until it's obviously puffy and aerated with life, then make up the dough when it's domed and at its peak.

Have you had a good look through the starter info on this site? SourDom's 'beginnning a starter' instructions are terrific and have set many of us right.

Also, what do you mean by the 'typical' sourdough crumb?

Best of luck (and baking!)

Lisa 2010 August 7

Hi Ross, thanks so much for your reply. I'll try to answer your questions as best I can:).


I gave the amounts of flour and water I used in my recipe above. But I forgot to add that I put a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of salt in. (basically I used:

1 c starter + 1 cup wholemeal very strong breadflour +3/4 c filtered water - allowed to 'ferment' for about 1.5 hours - until it was foamy/frothy - then added 4 c wholemeal very strong breadflour plus approx 1 cup filtered water = 1tblsp honey = 1tsp salt - then formed the dough, allowing it to rise in a glass bowl until it was about 80% risen).


I don't know what you mean about 'dough composition'  unless you mean ingredients? I don't understand about 'hydration'  except that obvious - that it means water content. My starter is 1 c flour + 3/4 c filtered water. Then the recipe above - and I have no clue what hydration level that is.


I did not know that hooch meant a starter was underfed! Thanks for telling me that. Yes, I've read much on starters, but soon became overwhelmed by so many conflicting and varied suggestions. So, basically, I dived in and am learning. My starter seems to have hooch in it fairly quickly. But, before I use it - I tend to feed it - and allow it to get foamy before trying to make anything with it. I'll have a look at the starter info on this site again and see if I can make sense out of the best way to maintain her.


I want to be really clear though. BEFORE I made the dough today, I fed the starter and allowed it to get frothy and happy (aerated definitely - it was bubbling like crazy!). It just seems to form hooch when it's in my fridge for a couple of days.


You asked what I meant by typical sourdough crumb. Well, look at my photos - the loaf looks like a regular crumb of a wheat loaf -- it was soft and wheat bread-y. I've had real sourdough  - and it looks different to mine - it has large pockets in it - and the crumb has a slightly different texture to what I turned out today. Don't get me wrong, the loaf was nice - but I'm aiming to learn how to make it like genuine sourdough bread:).

Lisa 2010 August 7

Sorry Ross - I meant to address the proofing time, baking time and temperatures.


I didn't actually time how long it took to proof - but it was between 2 and 3 hours that the dough doubled in size (after forming it intially).


I carefully turned it onto a floured granite work surface using a dough scraper. I gently folded it (in thirds, if that makes sense) - let it rest (covered) a few minutes - then repeated (covering it with a tea towel on the final rest). I then cut in half....


I formed the loaf and placed it into a round basket lined with a tea towel sprinkled with flour and semolina - seam side up. Covered lightly with a tea towel.



I then cut the dough into pieces to make rolls. I gently formed them and placed (seam down) on a lightly greased (olive oil) shallow baking sheet. Covered with a tea towel.


I placed both on the left side of the Aga where the temp is PERFECT for proofing. They took just over an hour to rise (maybe close to 1.5 hours).


The oven is cast iron. I baked the loaf directly on the floor of the hot oven (runs around 250C+/480ish F).

I baked the rolls on the floor as well, but on the baking sheet.


Temp in my house today was 22C/72F. Around the Aga on the left side it's pretty constant (around 25-28C/77-82F. If I feel it's too warm - I can move it to a nearby counter. It definitely was not overproved. I make cinnamon rolls all the time and have a good handle of where to best prove breads in my kitchen:) if that helps. We're in England where it's never terribly warm.....


I look forward to any tips you can share. And thanks for responding:)!!


edit to add:

I completely forgot to mention that I put a small pan of water in the oven on the top shelf. Aga's cook with radiant heat. But still - I put the pan of water in for the first few minutes and removed it quickly to allow the loaf and rolls to continue cooking...

rossnroller 2010 August 7

I'll leave it for someone else to try to troubleshoot more specifically. I have never made a SD bread using 100% wholemeal flour, and none of the techniques/processes I use in my SD breadmaking are similar to yours, so I don't feel that I am qualified to assist with the specifics.

Just a few things:

Yes, by 'dough composition' I meant ingredients and quantities of each. I don't use volumetric measures, so do not relate to your cup quantities. It might be worthwhile to consider using a cheap set of digital scales and sticking to recipes that use weight measures, as they are far more accurate and will give you more consistent results. Also, most of the recipes you'll find from the experienced bakers here and on other artisan bread sites use weight measures, so if you want to try any of these you'll need some scales.

Maybe (and I only say maybe), you are applying what you know of proofing yeasted breads to SD - this is not necessarily appropriate. For example, you say you proof your SD near your oven, where it's 25-28C. In my experience this is not 'perfect' for SD proofing - it is too warm! With SD, longer proof times = enhanced and more complex flavour. My best tasting breads are retarded in the fridge overnight, or proofed in cool ambient temps (currently just about ideal, here - 15-20C inside). Commonly, I bulk proof for 4 or 5 hours, then retard overnight or longer in the fridge, then either bake straight out of the gridge or allow another 2 hours final proof of the shaped dough before baking, depending on how the dough looks/feels.

Secondly, there are many types of SD breads and many types of SD crumb. Not all are very open, with 'large pockets'. I'm only guessing, but I'm not sure it's all that common to achieve a very open crumb with 100% wholemeal flour. Others might be able to verify this or otherwise.

You might prefer to bake 'intuitively', in which case we're on different pages (I like to weigh accurately so I can tweak or duplicate recipes). However, if you're open to trying new ways, why not have a look at some of the SD bread recipes here and pick one you like the look of. Not suggesting your bread's not good, but I have found that trying many different recipes and techniques over time has been very enriching and helpful in developing a process, or processes, that are reliable and that suit my preferences. There's a wealth of knowledge out there, freely shared by some very good home and pro bakers. Why not take advantage of this bank of knowledge and experience?



overboots 2010 August 7

G'Day Lisa,

The best advice I can give is to go to this website, and buy the book written by Ed Wood who is as sclentist who has done a lot of research on sourdoughs.

At the same time given that you will have already paid for the freight think about buying several of his cultures. They really work and he answers email enquiries.



toni55 2010 August 8

Hi Lisa,

Welcome aboard! I'm new to sourdough baking as well and will leave the nuts & bolts of determining where you can make changes to the more experienced bakers. I will say that I have had the experience Ross speaks of which is proving at too warm a temperature. I et a better rise at cooler temps.

I just have to say that your AGA is beautiful! Too bad someone bricked in your bread oven. I'd probably be in there with a chizel & hammer trying to open it back up!

Good luck & keep experimenting...that's half the fun☺


Lisa 2010 August 8

Thanks Toni:),


I threatened to chip out the builder's blocks (which are REALLY HARD!) from the bread oven, but my husband took me outside, and showed me how they had removed the dome that used to protrude from the even if I successfully managed to remove the blocks - there is no oven anymore.....:(

Some of the 'modernisation' renovations people commit in some of the old houses in UK is a travesty, imo. Just thinking I could have had a functional bread oven kinda makes me crazy when I think about it. But at least I have an Aga, which bakes it with very similar results (radiant heat) - and it doesn't let moisture escape which is also a bonus.


I'm going to invest in a decent digital scale that I can reset to zero each time I add ingredients --- and get some more varied flours (I ran out of everything but wholemeal recently) - and then give the next batch a go with more precise measurements. I'll post results then.


Thanks for letting me know your experience with the cooler proofing times -- I will definitely keep that in mind when proving my next loaves!

Lisa :)

Lisa 2010 August 8

Hi Ross, thanks again for your thoughtful reply.


I'm very open minded. I followed recipes meticulously at first - but this last time, I kind of went intuitive with my hands because I'd run out of everything but wholemeal flour - and I don't have a digital scale. Speaking of scales, I'm going to get one soon - and perhaps that will help when assessing how a recipe turns out.


I've tried various SD recipes since beginning my starter - and have had to adapt to making something other than bread when the starter wasn't really mature enough to do bread (e.g. pancakes, pizza bases, etc.). The last two times I baked, my starter was in heaven-frothy from feeding and allowing it to ferment before adding recipe ingredients. But I do think I need to feed it more often (little and often) - after reading your comments and having read Sourdom's advice on starters. With that said - I'm going to get a scale soon - and some more flour - and I will post results on after my next bake. Then we can see what my starter will do with the right flour and more precise measurements, along with an adjustment of cooler proofing. It's easy to proof in a cooler area in my house - seeing as we're in UK:).


Lisa :)

Tania 2010 August 8

Hi Lisa,

Well I fed my starter with  unble1/2 cup bleached rye and unbleached white organic flours last night, left it out on the bench and it doubled overnight, it then looked hungry again about 2pm today (Sunday) so I fed it again, and it has double again, so I'm thinking this starter is starting to look pretty healthy so far, today is day 7.  So fingers crossed that it continues this way for the next week then I will try making a loaf next weekend. 


Sad about your bread oven hey!  But.......your Aga is to die for, looks beautiful   Hope your bread baking is going well,



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 August 9

 Lisa your bread looks just like what I would expect a whole wheat sourdough loaf to look like.  The bran in the flour cuts the gluten and that keeps the bubbles from forming.  The bread looks really good.  The scale will help you more than maybe you can imagine, it was the single best buy that I made to making better bread.

rossnroller 2010 August 9

And it doesn't have to be an expensive one. I bought a cheap Target one for less than $50AUD, and it's been humming along faultlessly ever since.

As to whether it's the best bread-related buy...probably, although a plastic doughcutter and a pizza stone are pretty bloody good value, too! That's the great thing about baking your own SD - it's better and it's cheaper! Not often you can say that...


Gamya 2010 August 10

 I made the sourdough bread using the sponge method. It is a very good bread in all respects except that it is somewhat extra sour. How to use this bread?


Lisa 2010 August 10

Thanks LeadDog - that's good to hear some feedback that my wholemeal SD loaf looks right:). Very encouraging!!


I'm going to town next week (we live rurally) so am planning to find a good scale, a decent dough scraper and a pizza slice. Those are three items I really feel I must have now. Seeing as my wholemeal loaf turned out (and was tasty) - I think I've earned the right to buy me some proper utensils:).

faithh 2010 August 26

Hi Lisa,


I used to stress that my dough was always very wet and almost impossible to knead. I feed my starter with Rye flour as I am an irregular baker and it maintains a very vigorous leaven that can withstand my neglect! I then read in Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters that a rye leaven will make a very wet dough and hold a lot of water. I started to relax after this and just slopped the dough into a tin, (it won't hold its shape on a tray). The bread is perfect! Maybe wholemeal flour is similar? I bake my rye starter with unbleached plain flour and small quantity wholemeal as I found wholemeal only created too dense a loaf. If you check wholemeal loaves from bakeries they are rarely 100% wholemeal as they are just too dense.

Jigsaw 2010 September 10


Though I am having struggles of my own, I think that my starter is flourishing wonderfully...  It gets 1/2 a cup of flour and just under 1/2 cup of filtered water every day.  Each morning I take half of it out and usually don't use it (I'll have to try the pancakes) and only feed the other half so it stays around 1 cup.  It gets stirred two more times during the day (once when I get home from work and once before bed) after each stirring it doubles in size in about 4 hours.  No hooch, but maybe that's because I stir it so much. 

I feed my starter 1/2 cup of rye flour once every week or two and regular KA flour the rest of the time.

If I'm going to be away for the weekend which is usually when I bake I feed it, then stick it in the fridge and ask my wife to feed it the following week and then put back in the fridge.  I take it out two days before I intend to use it and feed daily until I need to put it away for a projected length of time again.

What I've read says that you should always feed your starter it's weigh or volume in flour and water every day unless it's being stored in the fridge which will slow it down then it only needs fed once every week.

I know the springy bubbly look your are looking for in your bread.  I've achieved it a couple times and its wonderful when it works out.

BTW, I love how you slashed your loaf in the pictures, have any looking stright down on it?  I'd love to steal the design!  :)

Lisa 2010 September 10

Thanks for sharing your starter maintenance tips, jigsaw!


I refrigerate my starter and since incorporating rye flour - it no longer develops hooch. That could also be because it's more mature - more active now and I bake 3-4 times per week - so it gets fed everytime I bake:).


I've amended the post with a photo (bottom of post) looking straight down on this particular loaf. The way I slashed it was fairly simple. First I made longer slashes evenly(ish) spaced around the dough. The I made shorter slashes between the longer slashes. I also carefully put the razor blade into the slashes to cut it a little deeper (I read that somewhere and thought I'd try it out on this loaf). I don't always do that now - unless I feel my slash was too shallow and wimpy, lol. I'm still working out the quick slash...sometimes I completely miss the loaf .


I'd love to learn how to do the curved slashes. My dough always feels like it would resist and I don't have enough confidence to risk flattening all my hard work, lol.


Jigsaw 2010 September 11


I also read that timid slashes don't develope the way you want.  Mine have been way to shallow.  This weekend I will attack my loafs like Freddie Krueger!   I don't have a lame, but instead use a razor window scraper that I've sterilized.  I love the star burst design you came up with and will give that a go.  Thanks for the new picture.

You almost need to be an artist to get such nice looking designs as I've seen posted here.  To bad I'm more of an analytical type of person and much less the artist.

I think that the Rye flour gives a very nice smell and the flavor of the bread is more complex with it than without.  I usually stick my nose in my starter a couple times a day as I love the smell of it.  If I can just get my bread to rise properly I'll be in good shape.  I've gotten some good pointers so I think that this weekend could be the one where everything works out.

Thanks again for the new pic.  If it all comes together right I'll post some pictures of the results.  :p

Jigsaw 2010 September 12

Still having problems getting it to rise in the oven, but I think the slashing design (reminiscent of yours huh?  :) ) came out pretty good.


Lisa 2010 September 15

Hey, that loaf looks really nice:). And the slashing looks purty:).


I'm finding each week, as my starter matures - and I'm settling into a routine in the way I handle the dough, that my bread is really coming on nicely and I'm getting more consistent results.


Here is my current routine:

Begin by mixing one cup of starter + 1 cup of very strong bread flour + 3/4 cup of water in a glass bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to ferment (get all frothy and happy). Then I put in the rest of the flour +water+honey and form the dough. Spray dough with Olive Oil and cover with cling film - shove in the fridge overnight.


I haven't been putting salt in my dough at all....and I'm okay with that, but I may begin doing it soon to see how it goes.



The next day, I take it out and it's usually doubled in size (sometimes more than doubled).

If it's not quite doubled in size and I go ahead - I find I get less spring in the oven.

If I wait and allow it to finish doubling in size, I'm turning out nicer, springier loafs.


I've also learned not to let the dough overprove - as it just ends up like a ciabatta instead of a proper loaf.


I don't knead the dough at all anymore. Instead I fold, and I can honestly say this has worked so much better for me.

Anyway, this is what I do next:

I do a few fold sessions- with 10 min rests between each session.

When I fold - I pick up the dough gently being careful not to pinch, squeeze it too much, or tear it - and I allow it to stretch at its own pace under gravity (takes a little patience, especially if it's cold out of the fridge, which sometimes is the case for me) until it's enough to fold in three. I lay it on the granite - fold 1/3 being careful not to push much air out of it - then fold the other third over the whole mass - ending up with a big dough ball. I put it fold-seam side down on the granite - cover with a tea towl - wait 10 mins. Repeat 3 or 4 more times - depending on how patient I'm feeling:).


At the last fold, I cover and let it rest until I'm ready to form the loaves. This is probably where I'm not as consistent as I should be. Sometimes I form whatever I'm baking after the last 10 min rest...then allow to prove..then bake. And sometimes, I leave the whole lump of dough under the tea towel for an hour or two.... yikes..


Anyway, when I form the loaves I'm making - I then allow them to rise on the countertop. It usually takes between 2-4 hours. I'm far too impatient to put them in the fridge overnight my loaves have a lovely taste now that we're really happy with.


I'm noticing since I began refrigerating the firstly formed dough overnight AND folding, that I'm getting a lot more spring in the oven. Also, a couple of minutes before baking, I put a pan of water in the oven.


If I leave the water in the oven during the whole bake, I find the crust is not as thick and the crumb is moist and lovely - and that's okay.

If I take the pan of water out of the oven a few minutes after beginning to bake - then the crust seems to be a bit thicker/crustier. The crumb isn't as moist, but it's still moist and lovely.



I've learned that when you do the slashes too far down the sides - it allows the loaf to spread too much and creates a flatter be careful not to slash too far down the sides. I'm learning we want slashes that will allow the dough to spread UP, giving us the spring we desire, so I've shortened my slashes on the round loaves.


I'm actually a bit frustrated with slashing at the moment, because once my loaves are proved and ready to be slashed, I notice they have a dryish coating that is making it difficult to slash with confidence. I think I will try maybe to adjust my recipe (wetter dough), or possibly give a light mist to the teatowel to prevent them drying out - and see how that goes.


Thanks for posting the piccie:).

Electricboots 2013 February 5

Hi Lisa,

You have probably sorted this out yourself after all this time, but I am fairly new to this myself and had 2 starters going, one organic wholemeal rye and one that I had converted to white Wallaby flour from the rye. The rye has never missed a beat but the white one has been looking increasingly miserable although fed on the same schedule as the rye. I consulted my European neighbour who knows a lot about traditional cooking and he said that in his country they always start up the white fresh each bake from the rye as there are not enough nutrients in white flour to keep the organisms alive long term!!! The key nutrients are in the outside of the grain of course. Well I was taught this at school about the health benefits of wholemeal grains but it was still a shock to see it in action.

The compost worms are now joying the white sludge and my family will have to get used to brown coloured bread for their own good!

isand66 2013 February 8

Sorry Electricboots but I have to disagree with you completely.  While it is true that rye and whole wheat starters tend to be more active and are easier to revive if not refreshed for a while, there is no truth that there are not enough nutrients in the white flour to keep the organisms alive long term.  Unless by long term you mean months...there is no reason why you can't refresh your white starter 1 time a week or even every two weeks.  I have used my AP starter for years now and have let it go 2-3 weeks sitting in the refrigerator without touching it when I travel on business.  When I come home I refresh it 2 to 3 times and it's good as new.  Not that there is anything wrong with brown bread since I tend to make a lot of whole grain bread myself.  I usually convert part of my AP starter over to a rye or whole wheat starter or in the case of my present bake, an oat flour starter.

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