Thursday, September 20, 2007

When bad things happen to good starters…

Well, my first attempt at sourdough turned out to be a drawn out four day emotional event.

Day One: “Mix ingredients and put into a 4 quart bowl and let sit at room temp.”

…. Check…

Day Two: “Dough should have risen to twice it’s size, remove from bowl, add refresher and replace.”

…Check… looking great so far, starting to feel like a pro…

Day Three: “Dough should be removed and halved, then refreshed, then replaced again.”

…Check... this stuff is easy…

Day Four: “If dough has not doubled in size leave for an additional 12 to 24 hours.”

…hmmm dough hasn’t doubled, better leave for another 12 hours…

The result, a tragedy in 4 parts:

Day four I encountered what I imagine to be the one thing you never want to see in anything you may be cooking, mold.

Oh well, I’m definitely going to try this again. Perhaps one that doesn’t involve 6 days to 2 weeks of fermentation.

Now it’s time to try my hand at French Bread. Here we go!


Susan said...

Sorry about the mold on your starter; I hope you'll try again as sourdough is very rewarding. Try feeding every 12 hours no matter what activity you do or don't see. You have some lovely breads on your site! I'm always happy to meet fellow bread enthusiasts.
Susan (

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ejm said...

Hmmm, this sounds horribly familiar except that I didn't get mold the time that my bread didn't double in 24 hours. I actually went ahead and baked it after 48 hours even though it had hardly moved. It produced THE most sour heavy flat discs.

However, as Susan has said, keep persevering. It is largely due to her encouragement that I have had quite few successes now.


P.S. Found you via Susan's blog

Lewis said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments!
I just love cooking and baking and posting my explorations here! You will see a couple of more soon. I have about a billion things going on right now so I am a little behind.

Thank you for your comments and readership!


kellypea said...

Hmmm...I've wanted to create a starter for sourdough and some artisan breads, but I always chicken out...Four days? Jeez. Talk about emotional let down.

breadchick said...

Hi Lewis,

A few folks this week have sent me private emails about "why won't my starter live". I'm getting ready to do an "Ask Breadchick" about starters and how to identify them, live and dead, etc.

Susan is dead on (no pun intended). No matter what, even if you think it is dead, feed it at least every 12 hours. As long it doesn't have mold on it or smell like gym socks gone dead chicken bad, you probably just have less than active yeasties.

lil'lam said...

How do you know if your starter has mold?

Lewis said...

Lil' Lam - If you look really close at my last picture you will see that there is a white layer on top. In real life this was obviously an unwanted guest.
My research has shown that:
1. Mold (in any form) is bad
2. Clear liquid is ok (this is alcohol which is a natural byproduct of yeast) but Pink liquid is bad

Avoid the bad and you should be ok, but the mold will be pretty obvious. At least it was for me.