Sourdough Starter Failure–Where Did I Go Wrong?

As promised, here is  my sourdough starter update.

Last Saturday, I started a batch of sourdough starter.  I was excited to see that there was activity and the wild yeast was growing (see photo below) until something happened when I made my first “refreshment” on Monday night.  It appeared as if the “refreshment” had halted the growth process.  I am wondering if the high humidity we had from heavy rains might had something to do with that?  I began to fret a little, but I continued to stir the starter faithfully every day just like the directions instructed.  *Note, while I did leave my kitchen window slightly cracked, I did not leave the starter sitting close to it as the directions advised.

By Wednesday morning I was convinced my batter was a dud and I would end up tossing it – so I decided to add about  a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to it.  Sugar typically helps most wild yeasts thrive and grow so I thought maybe I could kick start the yeast into growing.   To be honest, I don’t think adding the sugar helped or hurt the process.  Wednesday night I decided to do a  little on-line research before I tossed the starter out and started over.  I was eager to see what went wrong.

I ended up finding a blog called Food Wishes that chronicles (by video) the entire sourdough making process.  The video for day number 4  provided some critical information.  The directions given in the video said to remove 1/2 of the batter, and add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 c. of warm water, so I followed this advise.

On Thursday morning when I checked my batter it had formed tiny bubbles and the froth like it’s was suppose to (see photo below).  Hallelujah – right? 

I decided to mix up my dough Thursday evening and let it rise overnight.  Friday morning when I checked on the dough it didn’t really look it had changed at all.  I was again skeptical that my firsts attempt at making sour dough had failed but I continued on with the process.  I removed the dough from the bowl and shaped it into a round loaf of bread (see photo below).  I placed the loaf on a lightly greased pizza stone and covered it with a dishtowel.

I didn’t get back to the dough until much later than I had expected to on Friday.  The directions recommend the dough triple in size.  At the end of the day I found the dough dried and flattened out, and it was obvious at this point that it wasn’t tripled in size.  *Note – I suspect that if it the dough did rise while I was gone I missed the window for optimal baking. 

Because I had gotten this far I went ahead and baked off the loaf.  In the end, the bread looked like a rock and did not have a light airy texture (see photo below).  It was like a round floury loaf  of unattractiveness.  It didn’t look like a decent loaf of sourdough bread should, and after one bite I knew our chickens were going to be treated to my first sourdough bread failure.

While I’m discouraged with the failure of this project but I do think it was a great experiment.   And I certainly have a true appreciation for store-bought yeast after this.

Have you made sourdough bread this way before?  Was is a success or failure?

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8 thoughts on “Sourdough Starter Failure–Where Did I Go Wrong?

  1. Curses….not all kitchen experiments work out, indeed! I still intend to get my lab coat back on (I mean apron) and mix up a sourdough starter. Will you try again?

  2. Haha, I know all too well what it feels like when the sourdough doesn’t go as planned. You made me laugh, the way you described the process. I’m sure sourdough bread is worth the work, right? 🙂

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