Accidentally used Bleached Flour - whoops


Hey everyone!

New to Sourdough baking and searching around on the Internet has not led me to the answer that I am seeking, so hopefully someone can assist.

I created my starter last Monday - Oct 21st - it's now 10-26 and there has been no rising. There has been plenty of activity - bubbles, etc, but no rise. I started to feed it every 12 hours instead of every 24 probably around the 3-4 day mark.

There always seems to be a light colored liquid on the top of it - not dark like described in many posts.

Some additional discovery shows on my part after checking the actual bag of flour, that I used BLEACHED All Purpose Flour.

Now my question is, do I continue with the starter, feeding it unbleached and hope for the best, or should I discard and start a new one?


Any help would be appreciated!



150 users have voted.


Antilope's picture
Antilope 2013 October 28

When creating a starter, live cultures in the flour are where the much of the wild yeast and lactobacillus comes from. Bleaching flour probably kills off a lot of the desired cultures. When creating a new starter I would use unbleached flour to get it established. Once the starter is established, then using bleached flour to feed it shouldn't hurt. 

shasta's picture
shasta 2013 October 28


It sounds like your starter is doing fine. You could switch feed to a un bleached flour but the one you are using should work fine too.

My guess is that the reason you don't see much rising is because your starter has a high hydration level. How are you feeding it? Are you feeding equal amounts of flour and water by volume such as one cup flour to one cup water? This would produce a watery starter typically called a 166% hydration starter. 

Mixing equal parts by weight would give you a thicker starter that can trap the bubbles of gas produced and cause the starter to rise. if you are using measuring cups you can also get about the same results by feeding i cup flour to 2/3 cup of water.

The clear liquid you see on top of the starter is called hooch which is a type of alcohol. Its an indication that the starter could use more food. Since you are already feeding every 12 hours, you could feed it more each time you feed it. for example if you have been taking 1 cup of starter and feeding a half cup of flour and a half cup of water, you could start adding one cup of flour and a cup  of water. This would double the amount of food each feeding. Of course if you want a thicker starter you would feed less water as indicated earlier.

Keep at it. and good luck's picture
[email protected] 2013 November 4

Dear ArdhaChandrasana,

If you permit me to make a suggestion:

Make a ball of dough out of your starter using the liquid of what you already have and add enough rye four to complete this.

Feed this ball morning,noon and night before you go to sleep,by adding rye flour and some water.Place it in a plastic bag and close.

Do the same thing the next day.All the time this ball is left at room temp.on kitchen table.

At the end of the second day,press with your finger to make indentation.

If the dough springs just a little ,back up, then it is ready to use-if not then do the same for another day.

Before baking,split the ball down center and put half in freezer for next time round.

The half that you now are using you add water to it untill it no longer is a ball ,but loose.

Add a small amount of rye flour and more water in a bowl mix well .

Leave overnight to `prove` in the bowl,and put the bowl in 2 bags tied well.

In the morning,it should be a bit white and frothy.

Add all the other ingredients and replace bowl in 2 bags for 4-5 hours.

Put the dough in tins and cover to rise 2 hours/


The ball of starter that you put in freezer,you defrost 2 nights before you want to bake and feed 3 times a day/

Timx 2013 November 4

Oh dear! The previous comments make me feel very amateur.  But I haven't had a problem with starter, although I haven't worried about percentage hydration etc.

I use a good strong wholemeal flour, or alternatively organic rye flour.  I mix some flour with luke warm water to the consistency of paint, in a bowl which I cover (mine has a lid).   Each day I add a bit more flour and enough water to maintain the consistency, tipping away some of the mix if I have too much. After a day or two it starts to bubble.  I feed it each day with more flour and water. If liquid appears on the top I just stir it in.  At the end of a week it should be ready to use.  I then use about 150mm to make a sponge and go on from there. The starter goes in the fridge until about 48 hours before my next bake, when I take it out and stir in the next feed.

I have heard some people say that a sourdough starter is complicated and difficult but I have never found it so.  Could it be that sometimes we make life too complicated?  The more you can work on the look and the feel, and trust your gut feeling, the easier it becomes (or at least, thats what works for me, but I am not doing it commercially!).

Sorry if this sounds heretical, but there it is!


Scopechick 2013 November 4

Hi all. 


I agree with Shasta. Sounds like too much water to me. I had this problem allmthe time when starting out. I like to use 1 cup of flour (I've used all kinds) and a bit less than 3/4 c of water,....but this does depend on the flour. My fresh ground whole wheat requires a bit more, bleached white seems to require a bit less.  Play with it and don't worry so much. For the one you have going now, I would just add some more flour to make a damp doughball and see what happens! 

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