Sourdough Newbie- Hello from Malaysia!

seraphyin's picture

Hi!. I'm a newbie at sourdough breadmaking, I just started a liquid starter last Saturday, I have absolutely no idea whether its good or not. I'll describe what I did, can you see if it's ok or should I discard and make a new one using Dom's instruction. I followed the starter instructions from Joy of Cooking. I only came across this forum a few days ago. 


I started with 1 cup warm milk Full fat UHT, 1cup all purpose flour and 2/3 cup caster sugar. Stir together, then allowed to sit on my counter for 2 days ( supposedly yeast spores would colonise my starter, I have made yeast bread before and regularly at least once a week). On 3rd day, I covered it with one layer of thin muslin, then on 4th day I covered with cling wrap. I've been stirring it down everyday, sometimes 2 times a day. Very fine bubbles and it smells strong, but no doubling or big bubbles. Yesterday morning, a bit of sour smell, so I put it into the fridge (I was thinking maybe it was going bad?). Then after thinking about it all day, I decided to take it out again, and left it out last night and today. Some small ants got in, died on the side of the bowl and became mouldy, but the starter is not mouldy and the ants that died in the starter did not become mouldy. I wiped the side of the bowl clean of the mouldy ants and have left the starter on the counter again, covered with the clingwrap. My indoor temperature is fairly constant, probably around 26-28 degrees Celcius. I live in Malaysia, so no wintery weather to speak of. 


I have not fed the starter as the instructions said to leave it for 4-7 days. Am itching to make a loaf of bread, so am thinking to use a cup tonight, perhaps add some regular yeast just in case the starter is not robust and to refresh the rest of the starter and leave it to mature more. 




1)Should I be feeding the starter? Its very liquidy. How much flour and milk should I add? 

2) Does the starter sound right? Should I discard and start over?

3) Is it ok to add some instant yeast to my bread tonight just in case the starter is not mature enough? 


Appreciate all and any feedback. Can't wait to try some of the recipes on this site. 




166 users have voted.


seraphyin's picture
seraphyin 2012 June 15

 Hello all,


Want to update you on what I've been doing all evening in between tending to my starter, kefir and baby. I made the Norwich sourdough bread from Wild yeast, with a few modifications. I halfed the recipe, then added a teaspoon of yeast (sacrilege I know, but really want the bread to rise). It's going well, bulk fermenting in the fridge for now (probably for the next 20 hours, tomorrow night (or I should say later tonight) I will bake the breads.


As for the starter, when I came back it was still very liquidy and had a thin layer of hooch on top. Did some reading, perhaps it's too liquidy to do any amount of rising? Anyway decided to bite the hook and do a refresh. I took 30g and added 50 g bread flour and 50g water. Stirred together and have placed it on the counter to ferment. This time it's definitely a thicker consistency and perhaps the gases will be better trapped.


Around midnight, saw some signs of life! Saw a couple of bubbles rise and burst. Am hoping to see some rise in volume in the morning. 


Wish me luck and good night!


seraphyin's picture
seraphyin 2012 June 15

 Good morning! There is life in my starter! This morning I woke up to the sight of many bubbles formed at the surface of my starter! Yeay! So glad I did not throw it out. Now, waiting patiently for the starter to mature! Have a good day!


martin_prior's picture
martin_prior 2012 June 16

 You are brave. I would not dream of using milk in our climate. I will be interested to hear how you get on.


I usually make starter with only Organic Flour and Water. During the first week to ten days they certainly need regular feeding. It is also important to disgard half of the starter each day before feeding it. Failure to do so will result in huge amounts of starter, which you will have to feed with ever increasing amounts of flour and water.


Once the culture can double itself, you no longer need to do that. You can safetly leave it in the fridge to store it. The night before baking take out a small amount feed it to create the amount of leaven you need. In the morning it should be nice and bubbly. I suggest you do this overnight, as the nights can be relatively cool. If you decide to feed the culture in the mornings (for baking in the evening) you will probably only need 4 - 6 hours for the doubling to take place due to the increased temperature.


If we can help see

wishfish's picture
wishfish 2012 June 22


I live in a similar climate in Panama and second the thought that using milk sounds like it could end up rather nasty.



I made my starter with just flour (plain all purpose white flour) and water and I experimented a bit before I got a starter that worked. To begin with I think I was waiting too long between feedings. It started to work for me when I fed the starter regularly every twelve hours.


I discarded half the starter each time I fed it for about a week and now it is in the fridge and only gets a feed when I use it.

seraphyin's picture
seraphyin 2012 June 23



Thanks for reply Mr Martin and wishfish! My starter is doing well. I made a hybrid sourdough bread (modified from the Norwich load from WildYeast) which was very dark on the outside, but had a good crumb. I also saved up all the excess starter and made sourdough waffles using a recipe from WildYeast. It was delicious! Then I built up the starter and the next day made some cinnamon raisin bagels. Unfortunately, the bagels were rather flat, extremely chewy, but very flavourful. I wanted to post pictures here but have no idea how to do it. I hope to figure it out soon. Also I miscalculated (didn't know how at the time) the amount of flour and water to add to get the amount of starter I needed, so I used all the starter for the bagels. I then added 100g of flour and 100g of water to the original starter container and mixed it around, hoping that it would be enough to keep it going. I then placed it in the fridge as I was away the whole of this week. I just got back last night and this morning checked on the starter in the fridge. It is alive still! Not doubled or anything, just very small bubbles, but it did increase in volume. So I took 25g of starter and added 50g of water and flour and let the mixture sit on my counter today. Came back to the welcome sight of many large bubbles and volume had increase from 125ml to 175ml (it's in a measuring jug). I will  feed it again and leave it overnight for tomorrow.


1) For the final feed before I would use it for a bread, is it ok for the starter to increase by lets say one third and not double? Or must it always be double in 6-12 hours before it's considered a mature starter?


2) The starter (I'm naming it Shaggy) in the fridge, should I have left it out last night then taken some to activate this morning? 


3) Should I have fed Shaggy before I put him in the fridge? I didn't, I just took some and put the rest back in the fridge.


4) When should I feed Shaggy? He doesn't really look hungry...


On another note, the milk in the initial starter didn't seem to have had a bad effect, even with the dead, mouldy ants and all.


Have a good weekend!





farinam's picture
farinam 2012 July 20

Hello Erin,

Perhaps you have worked this all out by this but here are some thoughts anyway.

The volume increase that you see depends on a few things including how wide your container is.  A tall slender container will rise further than a shorter wider one.  I try to select the point, just as the volume stops increasing or just starts to fall back from the maximum and use that time to gauge the loaf preparation time.  For the cost of a bit of flour, you might like to try timing and noting the volume to get an idea of the optimum time for your conditions.  If it does go a bit beyond the peak, it is not the end of the earth as it will reactivate when the new source of food arrives when you make the dough.  Obviously, the loaf fermenting and proving is a little more critical on the timing, though sourdough is not as sensitive as commercial yeast doughs.

My method would be to feed Shaggy at the same time as I prepared the starter and then put him back into the fridge.  Shaggy (in the fridge) should only need feeding when you bake (assuming that is reasonably regular) but maybe no longer than four weeks if you go on holidays.  He might need a couple of feeds after such a long break before he starts kicking goals.

Hope this helps and good luck with your projects.


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