Unripe leaven


Yesterday I put about 60g rye starter, from a jar of rye starter I store in the fridge. I added 1/2 cup of w/meal wheat flour and 1/2 cup water. I stored on top of my fridge. This morning a bit of clear liquid was on the surface, and it smelt only average, a bit weak. The dough didn't rise much, only about half as much bigger. But when I baked it, the bread had risen.

Do I need to keep feeding each day until it has a stronger smell? Is a larger ratio of my rye starter to (flour + water) needed? 

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Josho 2012 February 15

This week I have made two loaves of sourdough and both of them didn't really double in size.  I mixed the dough, kneaded it three times with ten minute rests.  I let it sit for an hour, kneaded some more, then after another hour I put it in a tin and let it rise above the fridge for four hours.  It didn't double this time.  Do some doughs take up to 6-8 hours to double?  Was my leaven not strong and ripe?  When I smelt it, it was strong, but not very beery,  and it was taken from the fridge two days ago, fed twice. 

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 February 15

Hello Josho,

Sourdoughs will typically take 6-8 hours from mixing to baking at room temperature - obviously it will vary with temperature as well as the activity of your culture.

Was there any particular reason for putting it in the fridge?

I would suggest that you do the whole job at room temperature and see what happens.  The main thing is that you have to work to what the dough does.  A timeline that one person has published can only be a guide at best.  You should try to familiarise yourself with the 'poke test' for assessing when the loaf is ready for baking.  Sometimes the proving does not double but you get good oven spring.  If it does prove well, possibly the oven spring will not be so great.  The end result can be quite similar between the two scenarios.

However, as a rough guide, if you are working at room temperature, your total time from mixing to baking should be about equal to the time that your starter takes to peak after a feed (I am talking about a 100% hydration starter here).  Your bulk ferment and proving stages should be about equally divided over that time (with the aforementioned caveat that you have to work to what the dough/loaf actually does).

I am also talking about a simple loaf.  If you are working with doughs with high levels of additives such as fats, eggs, fruit etc, then the timing might be extended quite considerably.  My pannetone required 24 hours for proving.

Hope this helps.

Let us know how you go and good luck with your projects.


Josho 2012 February 17

Thank you Farinam.  I will keep a new leaven and then look at some new recipes I reckon.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

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