You’ve been getting ready to make bread but now your sourdough starter has deflated and you’re not sure what to do.
How do you know your sourdough starter has deflated?
It’s bubbly and runny… The mix that was thick and sticky when you fed it, is now looking more like a liquid. It’s also the same volume it was as when you last fed it (or shrinking back to it).
The fix is super easy but it’s an important one and before I tell you how to fix it, I want to share why you need to.
Flour and water are food for your sourdough starter.
Sourdough starter goes flat when it’s been left too long for that temperature and it runs out of food. The starter fills with air, was not used in time, runs out of energy, and deflates. Deflation destroys the airy structure of the sourdough starter. By feeding it again, your sourdough starter regains its energy and builds its structure again. This is necessary for rising your bread dough.
This is the regular cycle of sourdough. It takes 3-6 hours for sourdough starter to double in very warm temperatures, room temperature 6-8 hours and 8-12+ hours in cool temperatures.
When deflated sourdough starter doesn’t matter
If you’re just feeding your sourdough and not baking with it. Deflations doesn’t matter. Also when using sourdough starter for sourdough discard recipes, pancakes, cookies and other recipes that don’t rely on the sourdough starter for its rising power.
When it does
It’s absolutely crucial that your sourdough starter is doubled and at its peak, not yet tired out when you use it to make bread dough.
The structure of your sourdough starter at this point, will determine the structure of your baked bread, providing everything else also goes to plan!
When you make bread dough:
Puffy sourdough starter = Puffy sourdough bread.
Flat sourdough starter = Flat sourdough bread.
It’s that simple and, it’s a game changer.
Most people don’t know that being bubbly is not the sign of usability for sourdough starter – it’s doubling. Sourdough starter is at it’s peak when it’s doubled and filled with air, and this is when you should use it to make bread dough.
There are many reasons sourdough bread comes out of the oven flat and this is an important one of those reasons.
While sourdough starter is mostly predictable it does change, especially with a change in temperature or a different flour. But all of this doesn’t matter if you use it when it doubles. What a difference in temperature and flour will change is how long it takes to double. So you’ll need to pay attention.
Watch your sourdough more than the clock, to see when it’s doubled.
Quite simply, when your starter works – so does your dough. So let’s fix your deflated sourdough starter and I’ll let you know why it works.
Rescue Deflated Sourdough Starter
- Discard 2/3 of your starter.
- Weigh the remaining and feed it with the same weight in each – bread flour and water.
- Leave to double again.
- Use to make dough once it doubles.
Why this works
Discarding 2/3 of the starter returns the mix to the same size it was before the last feed (which has now deflated). This means your starter will be the same size (right amount for dough) once it’s doubled again.