I started and cared for my first sourdough starter for 6 days, had a decently active starter. It would rise noticeably, maybe 1.3x after feeding.

I made a basic sourdough recipe using my starter. It's obvious that my starter wasn't up to the task based on the picture below. My current hypothesis is that the tap water in Seattle has to much chlorine. I have since restarted with filtered water.

Anyways, I'm wondering why, despite being unleavened, there is still a crumb in the "bread"?

Is it because there was some, but more than zero, fermentation? If so, why didn't the yeast multiply and leaven the whole loaf?

flat sourdough

  • 1
    "crumb" means "all the bread which is not crust" - maybe you meant to use some other word
    – rumtscho
    Jan 11, 2017 at 8:46
  • 1
    I meant the air bubbles! I'm new to breadmaking, and in my research I ended up thinking crumb was the bubbles.
    – Caleb
    Jan 11, 2017 at 16:24
  • 1
    "1.3x" as in it rises to about a third larger, or it grows to over twice as large? The former is not a decently active starter. (Well, at least it isn't at 70°F—I doubt it is at 65°F either).
    – derobert
    Jan 11, 2017 at 21:11
  • Agreed with derobert - 1.3x is not a decently active starter. My starter will triple or quadruple after feeding it - that's decently active. I wouldn't use a starter that didn't at least double - it's not ready for breadmaking in my opinion.
    – LMAshton
    Jan 31, 2017 at 5:02

3 Answers 3


Looking at that picture you did definitely get a rise, in fact you got some big air holes. I would be happy to get that crumb, and I have baked plenty of bread. From the shape of it I suspect that what happened is that it simply spread out on you, rather than going up, which is common with dough that has a high hydration level like yours seems to be.

Bread dough is a bit like water in that it will flow the path of least resistance, if you simply plop a dough down without restricting it or shaping it you'll get a spread. Shaping will help depending on the result you are looking for, but I would recommend you use a shaping basket, also known as a proofing basket when you do your final rise.

  • 1
    I used a colander instead of a proofing basket, and let sit overnight on the counter at about 65F after my shaping. I have a picture I'll try to upload later. After 14 hours of fermentation in the colander, there was no noticeable rise. So, I did restrict the outward flow of the bread and still got the above result.
    – Caleb
    Jan 11, 2017 at 16:26
  • Here are two pictures, one after shaping, and one while in the colander: i.imgur.com/CD1T3Rlm.jpg i.imgur.com/UIl7i7dm.jpg
    – Caleb
    Jan 11, 2017 at 17:42

You kind of gave yourself the answer in the question. You started the fermentation process which "creates" the desired bubbly and airy texture - but if you didn't provide the sufficient temperature (above 16 degrees Celsius) the yeast couldn't develop. Try keeping your dough in nice room temperature and far from air circulation and drafts. That way the yeast will be left in peace to "eat" the dough and leave those airy bubles!

Hope this helps :)

  • Next time I'll plan on doing my bulk fermentation in the oven (while off). That's probably a bit warmer than my kitchen and a bit less drafty.
    – Caleb
    Jan 11, 2017 at 16:29
  • Exactly my point :) You got to treat the yeast like a rock star, and it requires a certain temperature in the dressing room :) Covering the dough with a damp cloth is another facilitator of the process. Best of luck!
    – Adelina
    Jan 11, 2017 at 21:12

Time and Temperature both impact rising. My sourdough breads take significantly longer than commercial-yeast breads. Unlike commercial yeast which is very consistent in rising times, I find wild yeast to be more variable (differences of hours from the same starter and recipes (different days)); there have been times where I figured I'd have to give up on it only to discover in the next hour it finally got some lift.

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