international starter feeling homesick?


During a stay back home in Australia I started a sourdough starter following Dean Brettscheider's book Global Baker, a simple flour and water method similar to what has been written up on this site. It took off well after a month, and had no trouble doubling in size consistenly after feeds, and produced wonderful bread (though the baking times given in Dean's book were far too long for our likes). Two months later I went to Japan for a month, taking the starter with me, and feeding it on Nissin strong flour. I was a bit worried at first how it would adapt to the new flour and climate, but was happy to see it doubling in size as usual after feeds and producing amazing loaves.
Finally I returned to London, where I am based, feeling confident about my starter's adaptive abilities, and after the first feed was happy to note the starter still doubled and made good bread. I put the starter in the fridge for the week (as I had done in Australia and Japan) though the next weekend it had no response to the feed at all.
I initially used Hovis extra strong premium flour here, though decided to use a normal supermarket strong flour instead. This made the starter more bubbly, but still no rising, let alone doubling. Bread made using this un-rising starter did themselves rise reasonably well though.

I'm trying to figure out why the starter wont double or really even rise anymore and would appreciate any thoughts if you have them.

137 users have voted.


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 April 27

Any change in how much water you add to the starter in proportion to flour? If your liquid proportion is the same, the mixture could still have a different 'wetness' because different flours absorb liquid differently. A more liquid starter will not 'hold' as much rise as a thicker starter.

But, since, your breads are swell anywayz....

By the way, welcome,'re quite a Global Baker yourself!


hoshinobike 2009 April 27

Thank you TeckPoh

I found out for myself by chance on the weekend, or by trying out a few things I've read rather.
The proportion of flour to water had been the same, however the flour definitely is different and doesnt absorb the water as much. Would this sound right for an extra strong flour?
I reduced the water a bit and increased the flour a bit and its back to normal, its lovable rising self.

I certainly was a bit of a global baker, I've left my starter in each country too, passing it on to people who were instantly interested who I know are still keeping it.

I made three on the weekend (only one failure in account of dough sticking to cloth, becamea flatter style), took some to a friend's and it was recieved very well, next to even a good supermarket loaf it was the favourite.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 April 27

On the contrary, strong flour has a greater capacity to absorb water. A, say, 66% hydration dough will feel stiffer with a flour with higher protein level.

I was discussing this with Jacklang, and, he says there's more to flour than just protein level, there's how flour is milled and stored, the level of starch damage, additives, and, etc. He suggests that Hovis flour has a higher amylase content...which would thin the long starch molecules down.

Good to hear how well your weekend bake went. You've really been sowing your seed (culture). *smile*


Post Reply

Already a member? Login