Hi there

I've been baking sourdough bread ofr over a year now using some starter a friend gave me and the Tartine method. I keep my starter in the fridge and use it about every two weeks. I start with about 2 tbs starter and feed it about 60g white flour, 60g brown flour and 120g water the night before I bake. Then I bake the next day and keep a couple of tablespoons of starter in the fridge until next time.

The starter is still alive but I wonder if it could be more active. My bread isn't rising brilliantly at the moment, but that could be the cold Melbourne weather or any number of other factors. (I have a 12 week old baby and I'm not always too good at following the original recipe exactly.) I don't like to make lots of extra starter and throw it out but I can't realistically bake more than about once a fortnight.

I've read recently that a rye flour starter may survive better in the fridge - any thoughts on this and what the proportions should be? Also should I feed my starter again before I put it back in the fridge? That is, the part of the starter that is left over after I use most of it for baking, I usually just put straight in the fridge. Should I be feeding it before I do this?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)

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farinam's picture
farinam 2013 June 4

Hello MsConstantia,

You wouldn't leave your other baby without a feed.  So I would consider giving it something to go on with regardless.  I would say enough to double the amount. 

However, you don't need to throw anything out.  Assuming you have  200 or so grams in your stock in the fridge and you need 180g for your loaf of bread, take out 90g from your stock and feed that with 45g of flour and 45g of water.  I am assuming that you are working at 100% hydration.  Add the same 45g of flour and 45g of water back into your stock, mix it in and put the stock back into the fridge until next time.  No waste.

I feed my stock with a blend of rye and white bread flour - 10% rye and 90% bread.

Depending on the temperature of your house, the cold weather will certainly significantly extend the proving time.  If you have a warmer spot in the house (in the cot with baby perhaps :) - just joking) then using that can be helpful.  Another method, if your oven has a light, is to use the oven with the light on as a prover.  Another is to put hot water in your sink with a suitable rack to hold the tin/banneton/whatever above the water level and cover the top of the sink with a towel or blanket.  This provides a warm humid spot though you might need to replace the water from time to time if the proving time is long.  A sunny window sill can also be useful though there haven't been too many of those around over the last few days.

Good luck with your projects.


irinap 2013 July 9

Hi MsConstantia

The winter months in Sydney does make it a challenging with such a long proving time.

I use a big esky lined with towels and a hot water bottle to boost up the heat,  the temp seems to remain at 20 deg or above for about 6 hours. My original culture is white bakers flour and almost 18 months old, I refresh it about every 10 days.




phaz 2013 July 11
a pot of hot water set on the bottom of an oven, with dough on the track above it, has worked fine for me. it also brings up the humidity and helps keep the dough from forming a crust. with temps in the mid 50sF, I would change the water after about 4 hrs. I'm sure you could go longer when temps are higher. happy baking!
wholemeal 2013 July 22
MsConstantia Refresh your starter as you do then ,after 12 -24 hrs,take some of it and add double of its weight of flour and double weight of water. ie 50gm refreshed starter + 100gms flour +100gms water. Mix and leave for 3 hours. It will look "gloopy" not frothy. Use this to make your bread. I live in Wales and know Low temperatures need more time! Wholemeal

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