Sourdough Collapse

That’s it. I’m about to give up on sourdough in a breadmaker. The recipe everyone is successful with and I’m a failure at calls for a basic bake cycle of four hours, a medium-size loaf with medium crust calling for 45 minutes of rest, 20 minutes of knead, 2hr 10minutes of rise and 50 minutes of bake. I follow the directions and amounts down to a gram. The bread rises perfectly halfway up the rise cycle. Then suddenly collapse, bakes and I end up with the same old brick – edible but heavy. Latest and last pictures of my embarrassments.

Crumb looks good. Just over proofed. You need to not follow to the gram because obviously it needs less starter for the cycle you’re using. Don’t just repeat the same recipe hoping it’ll turn out better the this time. Something has to change and if its over proofing then its the starter or the cycle is too long.

Thanks for the response. So how to correct the overproofing. My recipe called for 225g starter, 170g warm water, 360g bread flour, 1tbs dry yeast (not rapid rise), 3tbs oil or butter and 2tsp salt. The only way to shorten times in the machine’s basic bake cycle is to use the small loaf setting as opposed to medium or large – ie the first rest cycle gives you a spread of 30-60mins so I assume the small would be 30, the knead cycle is 15-20, the rise is 1hr50mins-2hr20mins, and there’s no spread inthe bake cycle which is a flat 50mins. If it’s the starter I thought I had it pretty well nailed but maybe not. Made with rye flour, daily feedings for 5 days after taking it out of the refrigerator, nice smell, light and bubbly. So was there too much of it, or was it overfed, too dry, too wet?

Well first things first… Did you use both starter and dried yeast? That is probably the problem. That’s a lot of starter + a lot of dried yeast.

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Now that you put it that way…I’ve heard from several on this forum extolling the virtues of this recipe, and I even had one partial success with it:

That said, I’ve seen others calling for no yeast and a lot less starter. I may also be having weight problems, as in this particular recipe uses cups while everyone tells me to convert cups to grams. One ounce equals 28.35 grams. One cup flour equals 4.25oz equals 120 grams, but one cup water equals 8oz equals 225 grams. So for a starter measurement do you use the flour weight or the water weight or a combination of both?

This seems to be based upon King Arthur’s recipe but converted to cups only and scaled to the “authors” convenience. How about going to the source of the recipe which gives it in weights too?

Now you have a better picture of what the recipe should be. And if you read how to make a starter by KA website then you’ll see the starter they’re talking about is a 100% hydration bread flour (or AP flour) starter which means equal parts bread flour to water by weight!

What is your starter’s specs? And which machine do you have?

No, I tried the King Arthur sourdough recipe and it just didn’t work for me or my machine. The one I used was a variant of the “Best Breadmachine Sourdough” on with the sugar excluded, as some others on this forum recommended. My machine is a Panasonic SD-YD 250. I guess I vastly overweighed the starter by using the cup weight of water instead of half flour-half water at 100% hydration, so I’ll scale back my next attempt to 117 grams of starter instead of 225 and cut out the yeast altogether. In looking at my latest effort, the crumb is clearly darker than normal sourdough, more the color of rye bread, so I obviously used too much. Thanks for all your advice.

You don’t have to start thinking about if a cup of flour weighs this much and a cup of water weighs that much then how can I estimate a cup of starter.

If your starter is 100% hydration bread flour then its equal parts flour to water by weight. This will bring you in line with the recipe. Then use 227g of your starter.

I still think you’re going about this the wrong way. What are the specs of your starter? And why not follow the KA recipe? Seems simpler as its left less room for guessing.

My starter recipe is pretty much KA’s except I used rye flour not AP. Maybe I’ll go back to bread flour or all-purpose. The sourdough recipe recipe does not specify the starter hydration so I just went with 100%. Going just by color and taste I’ve come to the conclusion that my last adobe brick attempt had way too much rye starter, so I’ll fiddle with amounts. Or throw away the breadmaker and use an oven like most others

Since your starter is rye and the starter % in the recipe is high its going to make a big difference to the recipe.

If you need one cup, 227g, of 100% hydration bread flour starter then simply make a levain (an off shoot starter) to go into the dough. This allows you to keep one type of starter and use it to build different types. For instance:

  • 27g whole rye starter at 100% hydration
  • 100g water
  • 100g bread flour

Mix this up the night before and allow it to ferment for 12-14 hours until well risen, bubbly and it has a nice aroma. Then use it for the recipe.

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Thanks. I’ll try it. Thinking too much may be my problem, not shared by the current occupant of the White House.

Lol :slight_smile: I’m thinking swapping to a bread flour starter and therefore taking the big percentage of rye out of the equation should help. I’m also wondering if you should skip the added yeast or not. Up to you. Or perhaps half the yeast?

I’m willing to try skipping the added yeast altogether although many swear by that recipe. My sole remaining question is how long to revive or feed a starter taken out of the refrigerator after extended storage. Some recipes say throw half away daily and feed with more flour and water daily for 5-7 days, others say add sugar (which I resist), other say you can feed and start using after only 24 hours.

Depends how long its been in storage. I can take a little starter that has been in the fridge for two weeks to build a levain. Some people do go crazy when it comes to feeding starter. Unless its been many weeks I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Tell me… When you start these many feeds before going onto the final bread does it rise with the first feed? I’m thinking yes it does with no issues at all. So why should it not leaven bread?

Build the levain using just 27g and wait however long it needs. That’s a nice refreshment. Then use the levain in the dough.

Sorry for the delay. Starter rise depends on temperature in the house. Sometimes when I take it out of the fridge it takes one or two daily feeds before I get a rise. Other times it takes up to 4 days before I get nice bubbles. And since I’m working with “old” starter stored from previous bakes, I’m never sure of the hydration – it’s never a matter of equal weights of flour and warm water as with making starter from the beginning, but old starter fed with new flour and how much water???

That doesn’t sound right. Perhaps we need to take a look at your starter!

How are you maintaining your starter?

I don’t bake all that much so I keep the starter in the fridge, maintain it with one weekly feeding by tossing out half (or keeping it for sourdough pancakes) and replacing that half with equal weights of flour and water. Let it sit out on the kitchen counter for about 12 hours, then back in the fridge. I’ve been told that the starter is only ready for baking when volume swells to two or three times its original size, which usually takes two or three days of feeding via my formula. We’ve been having a pretty cool summer, lots of rain and only about 70F in the house, which seems to have slowed down starter revival. Last time around we had some sun so I put it out on the porch where the temp hit 85F and that did the trick.

So your starter is 100% hydration and your typical maintenance is 2:1:1. You keep half and then top back up with half flour and water.

How about you feed your starter for the next few days 1:2:2. It is a healthier feed and with more fresh flour you should see a better rise from it.

How about starting a regimen of feeding as follows:

  • 20g starter
  • 40g water
  • 40g flour

Now a feed like this should not take too long to bubble up and peak. I’d say repeat this feed at 12 hourly intervals however if your starter needs it then start with 24 hourly intervals. But as it gains strength and bubbles up quicker then switch to 12 hourly intervals

Once your starter is bubbling up no problem within 12 hours every time its fed then it should be fine. With continuing good maintenance it should remain healthy. Once you’re confident all is well with your starter, give it one final feed and when doubled refrigerate it. Then you can try repeating this recipe. Let me know when you’re ready.

70°F should be OK for a viable starter. To get one going it does need more warmth 75-78°F being ideal. But once a starter is born it should do fine with slightly cooler temps albeit a bit slower. Shouldn’t need a few days to get any bubbles.

Hopefully we can correct this.

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Thanks, I’ll give it a go after the holiday weekend. Or maybe start afresh with a non-rye starter and take it from there.

Rye should be fine. In fact its the best kind of starter. Very reliable, hardy and easy to maintain.