I'm almost ready to start, questions..


 I think I am on my way to having my first Starter. I thought it was taking too long from the A/C in the house, so I put the culture on my DSL modem to warm it up. I then got what I think is pay dirt. The dough smells kind of like mild cheese, in a good way.  I dumped 3/4 of it out and added a nice does of fresh flour and room temp spring water. I get small bubbles in the dough after a few minutes back on the DSL modem. It smells good, but I don't know when it will be active enough to raise my bread in a decent amount of time.  is there a good gauge I can go by.  I can smell the dough from a few feet away, it does remind me of sour dough. 


i'm eager to make my first sour dough bread. 



281 users have voted.


Cordovez 2011 September 3

It should double in volume and you will have no doubt that it is ready, as it will look like a science experiment full bubbles and froth. Think of it as looking like liquid bread.

cross1242 2011 September 4

You are on the right track but you haven't got it ready for bread baking yet.  Keep dumping and feeding it twice a day for the next week.  Towards the end of the week, the starter will foam up and double or tripple in volume.  After it's done that for a couple of days, THEN you can use it for starting a sourdough loaf.


BTW, I like your tip for a warm place for getting anything to rise.  There are several items of computer equipment that produce heat like crazy and could be used for the purpose.  Thanks for that idea.

JODoughMaker 2011 September 4

 I made my first and second batch of dough, and one was made into bread. The first was left in a glass bowl to rise, and it will take until morning for that.  The second was done with a bread machine recipe. It used 1 cup of starter, 3 cups of flower, a little sugar, salt, and 1 teaspoon of yeast.  It made a 2 lb loaf in my bread machine. I let it rise, then punched it down, and let it rise again. 

When it was done, I let it sit for 20 minutes, then tasted a little plain, and then some with my favorite olive oil margarine.  It was very tasty, and a great excuse for sour dough bread. 

My starter is growing like a mad science experiment. 


I credit the lack of warm for the lack of initial success, and the addition of DSL modem warmth for immediate correction and success.  Who would think that warmth would be a problem in Florida in the summer. It appears that the A/C being kept at 79 was too cold to get a good starter going in any reasonable time. 

panfresca 2011 September 4

I wonder what technique you are using for your starter. 

Look at SourDom's beginners blog here and compare your technique - his is a surefire method for producing starter. There are other ways, some good, some completely off the mark. SourDom's method takes 7-10 days, certainly at that sort of temperature.

75-80°F is ideal temperature for starters, and you would want to be careful you didn't cook your starter by getting it too hot.

JODoughMaker 2011 September 10

 I have my starter well trained and understand it very well now. An interesting contradiction to most directions on making a sure to go, fast starter is the amount of water. Too much water, and I do consider a 50/50 flour/water mix to be too much water, is a sure fire way to get anything but fast results. The key for me is to have a mix that is like thick pancake batter, and put it in a warm place with a lid on, but not tight. Keep the moisture in tact to insure good bacteria growth.

I was reading that starter can safely be kept out of the frig if your home is 80 F, or less. Most all agree that starter is best kept if it is A) used and refreshed on a semi regular schedule, or B) partially dumped and refreshed with fresh flour and warm water.  This might be one reason why so many starter owners  are so ready and willing to share their starter with friends and family. Either make bread every other day, or toss some of your starter in the trash, or give some to a friend. 

The next revelation about making sour dough bread, is that it is ok to use yeast in the bread. More than one book suggests that sour dough vary's from town to town, and region to region. You might make it perfectly in one town, and move and have a terrible time of getting as good a result. The way to insure your bread is perfect is to use yeast in the recipe. If you don't want to, and you have good results using just your starter, go for it. Anyone who is struggling with a good rise, should try using a little yeast, the bread will still be sour dough bread, and still be delicious.

 I have a beautiful bowl of starter, and I'm getting up early to give it a test drive.  

   Good night to all the bakers.

panfresca 2011 September 10


It's true that there are many ways to achieve good bread, and one of the saving graces, particularly for novices, is that the margin for error is huge. For me, the 50/50 proportion as advocated in SourDom's excellent blog, worked perfectly - but of course you and I are using different flours in different conditions. When you're getting it going, rise is unimportant - it's whether it's producing lactobacillus and all the other goodies which is important.

I sorta agree with your comment about yeast - it's not something which should be excluded on "political" grounds, though my view is that there's no need for it to be used to make up for a flaccid starter... if the starter is not performing, it's easy enough to take steps to bring it back to vitality. I wouldn't go as far as some purists who say using commercial yeast is never justified, because I think there are some complex methods where it can arguably improve the finished result - and yeast itself has no flavour anyway, that is provided by the lactobacillii.

JODoughMaker 2011 September 12

 This thread has been excellent for us beginners. My last best try at sour dough suffered from another misjudgment on my part. I did not proof the dough long enough, if that means I did not let it complete the second rise. The one after the formation of the banquette. So the  bread was a bit heavy. Otherwise ,the flavor was excellent. I included roasted garlic bits, and an toping of chopped onions.

Tonight i am waiting for yet another batch of sour dough to rise before the oven. This time I used zero yeast. The first rise was very good.  The recipe was from a web site, and it is a very sticky dough, only a little thicker than my starter. It has whole wheat, and white unbleached, no sugar. The salt is more than I would think to use, 4 teaspoons, and it goes in after the lightly mixed dough sits for 20 minutes, then knead for 10 minutes. It also called for 1/4 cup of Vital Gluten. 

The author said the dough would be a bit on the runny, or sticky side. he said that the extra hydration would give it bigger holes, and if I leave it to rise over night, it will develop the best flavor.  It was a little too runny, so I greased a couple of 4x4 pans and put half in each, then covered them with wrap. I will bake them some time on Monday. I don't know if I did the right thing in using the pans, I feel like I treated my dough like it was cake batter. 

In any case, it has 1.5 cups of my starter in it, and it smells wonderful. 

I will attach a picture of my starter at it's maximum height, i fed it twice today, once an hour before I used it, and again after I took the 1.5 cups for the bread.

 I'm going to strike this one up to my developing my arsel of baking knowledge. Of course that list will include as many Don'ts, as it will Do's. Will this latest be on the list of Do's, or Don't's ?



panfresca 2011 September 12

Wow, that's very frothy looking starter! Very healthy.

Have you looked at the stretch and fold technique? It does away with lengthy kneading, develops gluten beautifully and gets great results. Maybe try it both ways and compare.

Unless you're using flours which need extra gluten, I don't see any point in using vital gluten - it's not really going to achieve anything and for my money, the simpler the better.

Salt should always be weighed - the standard % by weight is just about always 1.8% to 2%. Volumetric measures are just about useless for both flour and salt, as they both vary so much according to compression and grain size.

It's great to try different things, so in a way there are very few "don'ts", as everything goes to building your knowledge. Even though I look back on my first efforts with something close to horror, friends and family who consumed them were very complimentary, and I know that what I'm doing now is very much better. I'm sure your experience will be similar.

JODoughMaker 2011 September 17

 I made this bread from a recipe in "Secrets of  a Jewish Baker", a book that is worth keeping, and reading more than once. Recipes is the least of what it has that is useful information. Speaking of recipes, each is done in three editions, one for manual hand made bread, one for a bread machine, and one for a food processor.  How was I to know that when you use a food processor, you have to follow different directions, with the least of it being to use cool water, not warm. In any case, besides a glowing endorsement for the book, I have a picture of the bread I made with help from the book. The bread was cooked with steam, which according to Mr. Greenstein, helped with the terrific crust. only have this one picture because the entire loaf is gone..


Sour Dough Italian

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