Is my starter doomed?


I just made my first sourdough starter a few days ago. I was using it today and it states to refresh it after using it. So, the recipe I had said to add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup nonfat milk. Well, when I was first making the starter I used dry nonfat milk, so I assumed that I was to use that again. So I added it, and now I know that I am wrong. My starter is more dough like than liquid. Can it be saved? I didn't realize it until too late that I had messed up.  Even if I did mess it up I am making my first loaf today with the starter that I removed. 


Any advice would be helpful.


Dana, Novice baker

110 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 January 23

Hello Dana

The consistency of the starter is determined by the ratio of liquid to flour.  Some starters are dough, either refreshed by adding more flour and water to remnants of the starter or to a reserved piece of the finished bread dough ( before shaping and proving).  It sounds as if the proportion of flour to liquid has changed if your starter was 'liquid' before and is now a 'dough'.  Mine, which is 1:1 flour and water (by mass) is a thickish batter and could not be formed into any sort of shape but will not flow easily.  The other thing is, it is often recommended that you use a set of scales (digital not analog) to manage your proportions, as the volumetric method has all sorts of potential errors and could also easily change the appearance/characteristic of your starter.  Different grades/types of flour have different water absorption characteristics and could also produce similar changes.

Hope this helps


HopesHope 2011 January 25

Very simply add 1/2 cup warm water, to the existing starter to gain the consistency that you are use to having.   This will make your starter at 100% hydration. 


Because someone says to add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of milk  when you use some for a recipe it's not necessarily so.   IF you use 1 cup of starter, then feed the remainder starter 1 cup of flour.    If you use 1/2 cup of starter then feed 1/2 cup of flour. 


You will find that sourdough aka wild yeast is very forgiving.   I have about 3-4 cups of yeast ready at all times.  I bake a lot.  All you are playing with is flour and water, don't be intimidated, experiment and see what works for you.   Sometimes it's best to "feel" your way through a process..


Hope this helps


CayoKath 2011 January 26

I agree completely with Hope about the forgivingness of sourdough.  Farinam is right that accurately weighed ingredients makes a more predictable and consistent starter, but that isn't a must for home baking. Remember, this is how the old timers made their bread.  After you've had starters for a while you begin to get a feel for what is needed to feed one after using it to keep it about the same as was.  About the only things a starter won't forgive are contamination and accidental cooking.  There's an old woman here in Colorado, who summers in a remote cabin at her ranch, who owns a 50-year-old starter.  She's a star in my book!

Post Reply

Already a member? Login