Dough Not Rising


 Hello Everyone


This is my third time trying to bake from my culture.  I made it according to Nancy Silverton's "Breads From the La Brea Bakery" cookbook.  My starter bubbles and looks good, but whenever I try to bake with it, I get very poor proofing.  I can barely tell if it's risen at all in most cases, and I let it sit out for over 6 hours sometimes.  It's not too cold in my house....around 73 degrees.....and I do sometimes try to "help" the dough rise by putting it in a warmed (90 degrees or so) and humid (a couple of spritzes with a water bottle) oven.  That doesn't seem to help much, but I don't know what else to try.

I have tried two of Nancy's recipes so far, both with similar results.  The bread has a great flavor (and when I make sourdough waffles or pancakes with my starter, they taste nicely "sour"), but it just is obviously lacking because the lack of proper proofing.  

What can I do???  Is Nancy Silverton's book not a good one?  

When is the best time for me to "harvest" the starter?  I assume right before feeding it.  

Any help or tips would be MUCH appreciated!  I really want this to work for me!  I have invested WAY too much time and flour into this starter!!

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aquakej 2010 September 10

 After researching this site a bit more, I see that most of you are feeding your starters with a different ratio of flour and water than my book has been suggesting.  I have been using one part starter to 1/2 part flour and 1/2 part water.  (However, my starter is fed three times a day, every 4-6 hours)  My starter also does not grow after being fed; it only bubbles.  I have been seeing pictures of starters actually rising up in the bowl; perhaps this is something I need to fix.


So, just now, as it was time to feed again, I changed my feeding ratio to 1 part starter, 2 parts flour, and 2 parts water, as per the Bethesda Bakers' recommendation.  At the next feeding, in 8 hours, I will do a 1:1:1 ratio.  Perhaps this will perk up my starter so that it will actually make my breads rise??


Does anyone have any comments on these changes I am making?

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2010 September 10

The changes sound good.  it's possible your starter wasn't getting enough food before.  How long have you had your starter on the go for?  It can take a few weeks to a month for it to get "strong" enough to make bread with.  My first loaves were more suitable to use as brickwork than to eat, so don't feel bad, just keep trying :o)


Happiness is making bread

aquakej 2010 September 10

 I have had my starter resting in the fridge for a few months and started reviving it 5 days ago.  (I've had the starter for nearly a year now, but it's been in the fridge for much of that time, since it was disappointing me so much there at the beginning.)

I thought just because I saw bubbles meant it was alive and ready to use.  Now I'm seeing that that alone might not be enough....apparently I need it to also double in volume within 12 hours or so?

Is there anything I can do to "kick start" the starter?

rossnroller 2010 September 10

Sounds like your starter might have died, since you left in so long in the fridge without feeding it. If so, essentially, you're beginning it from scratch, so it will probably take 10-14 days or so to get active. I'd have a look through Dom's excellent blog tute on beginning a starter (on this site - you'll see the link on the home page). Can't go wrong following his directions.

The addition of 30% WHOLE GRAIN ORGANIC rye to your starter mix is the single best tip I could give you. Good quality rye gives the process a great kick along.

You'll know when your starter is genuinely ripe and ready. It will certainly swell significantly, not just bubble, and will be mousse-like and airy when you dig into it with a knife, or whatever. I'm almost certain your problem with non-rising bread is that your starter isn't fully active.

Best of baking!


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