Author Topic: Help! My SD starter stopped rising and I'm hosting a pizza party in 2 days.  (Read 431 times)

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Offline dbarneschi

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I've been working with an Ischia starter for a few years now that's produced some terrific pies. In the past, I've kept the starter in the refrigerator and then fed it before making dough, but last year I decided to take it out of the fridge, leave it on my counter and feed it twice a week (not enough feedings, I know). Even with regular "neglect," the starter always came back to life after a few feedings. Two weeks ago, I used the starter to make some amazing pies. I then left it out for five days (went of vacation) before feeding again. Upon trying to activate the dough this past week, I haven't had much success. There are a bunch of small bubbles throughout the starter and a few bigger bubbles popping on the surface, but no significant rise. I typically wait for it to triple (get to max height) in volume before feeding again. I've been dumping starter and adding more flour and water, adding to existing colony, waiting 6 hours, waiting 12 hours, etc. but nothing has seemed to work. I can't figure out what's going on.

That said, I'm having a large group of friends over for a pizza party on Saturday night (it's Thursday afternoon right now). I typically get the starter in good shape 3 days before baking, make the dough 2 days before (TXCraig recipe) and ball the night before. I may not have this option now. FWIW, I do my bakes in a Blackstone oven.

What would you all recommend I do? Can I "bump" my starter with some IDY and still warm ferment at 65F, or would this be disastrous? I thought my days of using IDY would be long behind me.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Offline TXCraig1

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I'm not sure you can judge how the starter may effect the dough in conjunction with IDY. If you have an IDY formulation you like, it might be best to go with the known quantity - or make two separate batches.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
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Offline dbarneschi

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I'm not sure you can judge how the starter may effect the dough in conjunction with IDY. If you have an IDY formulation you like, it might be best to go with the known quantity - or make two separate batches.
Thanks Craig. Eh, don't have a good recipe for IDY dough. Can someone recommend one?

Offline TXCraig1

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If it was me, I'd do what I was planning and use the table to get an IDY quantity: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=26831.msg355933#msg355933

I use 0.025% IDY as a substitute for SD in my regular 48 hour NP formula.

Just be sure to keep an eye on it starting 12 hours out and warm/cool as needed. Try not to be warming or cooling in the last 3 hours so you are baking room temp dough. Error on the side of over-fermenting a bit.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
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Offline dbarneschi

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If it was me, I'd do what I was planning and use the table to get an IDY quantity: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=26831.msg355933#msg355933

I use 0.025% IDY as a substitute for SD in my regular 48 hour NP formula.

Just be sure to keep an eye on it starting 12 hours out and warm/cool as needed. Try not to be warming or cooling in the last 3 hours so you are baking room temp dough. Error on the side of over-fermenting a bit.
Thanks for the tip Craig. So, just to double check my math, if I'm making six 250g dough balls, each containing 150g flour, I'll be using .225g IDY, correct? Sheesh. Where can I get a drug dealer's scale?

Offline TXCraig1

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Correct.

I use a reloading scale for IDY. It's in grains. 1 grain = 1/7000lb.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline PrimeRib

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Where can I get a drug dealer's scale?

This is a good scale for $10.

Smart Weigh SWS100 Elite Series Digital Pocket Scale, 100g by 0.01g, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EPO9M2Y/?tag=pmak-20

Offline TXCraig1

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That's perfect. I'm going to get one of those.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline TXCraig1

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Amazon Prime one click and done.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage


Offline theppgcowboy

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dbarneschi I keep my culture in the fridge and bring it out to exercise it when I make pizza. I also keep a mason jar sealed as a back up. I have never ever needed it, but I play with it to see how long I can go before it is no longer useful that jar gets rotates on a regular schedule.  I have a jar over a year and half old and will see if I can get it going just to see how long it can sit.  When I am making pizza it gets used daily, when I am in between seasons it sits in the fridge sometimes for weeks without getting touched, then out it comes it gets fed and off it goes.  The only time I have ever had my culture not take off was on the counter for a couple of days. I will sometimes keep a little on the counter just to compare with at times for taste, I like both, but find the one kept in the fridge requires less attention during the slow times.
Here is my philosophy on the matter, we do not use great amounts of culture for 2 to 3 days schedules and what matters most is the temp of the dough during fermentation and that is what creates the dough character. Other than that you are keeping it healthy and alive.  Also in my Sourdo book I got from sourdo.com They say there is no problem when stored it in the fridge. My two cents, I can be wrong. But my system works for me.

Offline PrimeRib

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That's perfect. I'm going to get one of those.

I would like to see how it compares to your reloading scale.

Offline TXCraig1

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I would like to see how it compares to your reloading scale.

Hopefully its' a bit more accurate. It can supposedly give 0.01g accuracy. The reloading scale is only about 0.065g - but it has no problem weighing at the absolute lowest end of its scale - 1gn or 1/7000lb. Sometime digital scales have problems when the weight is next to zero.

I'll post my results. Should be here tomorrow.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline dbarneschi

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This is a good scale for $10.

Smart Weigh SWS100 Elite Series Digital Pocket Scale, 100g by 0.01g, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EPO9M2Y/?tag=pmak-20
Thanks for the tip. Will definitely be picking up one of these. Hopefully I won't see a bunch of guys in black suits staking out my apartment anytime soon.  :-D

Offline dbarneschi

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dbarneschi I keep my culture in the fridge and bring it out to exercise it when I make pizza. I also keep a mason jar sealed as a back up. I have never ever needed it, but I play with it to see how long I can go before it is no longer useful that jar gets rotates on a regular schedule.  I have a jar over a year and half old and will see if I can get it going just to see how long it can sit.  When I am making pizza it gets used daily, when I am in between seasons it sits in the fridge sometimes for weeks without getting touched, then out it comes it gets fed and off it goes.  The only time I have ever had my culture not take off was on the counter for a couple of days. I will sometimes keep a little on the counter just to compare with at times for taste, I like both, but find the one kept in the fridge requires less attention during the slow times.
Here is my philosophy on the matter, we do not use great amounts of culture for 2 to 3 days schedules and what matters most is the temp of the dough during fermentation and that is what creates the dough character. Other than that you are keeping it healthy and alive.  Also in my Sourdo book I got from sourdo.com They say there is no problem when stored it in the fridge. My two cents, I can be wrong. But my system works for me.
So....after more feeding followed by a "warm rise" in my oven the starter finally came back to life, and he did so with a vengeance. Whew! From now on, I'm going to keep my starter in the fridge and only pull him out when I need to make dough.

Speaking of starters and rising post-feedings, my Ischia starter typically quadruples in height after its fed. Is this normal? Does this mean anything about the strength of him? Just curious.

Thanks everyone for all the helpful tips and insight. I'll post some pics of my pies following the party on Saturday.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2015, 05:30:44 PM by dbarneschi »

Offline theppgcowboy

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If you you have a system that works for you, the pies are what you want, go with it.  We all have a routine that works for us. Make sure you have a backup plan b, in a sterile mason jar.

Offline TXCraig1

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Hopefully its' a bit more accurate. It can supposedly give 0.01g accuracy. The reloading scale is only about 0.065g - but it has no problem weighing at the absolute lowest end of its scale - 1gn or 1/7000lb. Sometime digital scales have problems when the weight is next to zero.

I'll post my results. Should be here tomorrow.

I don't know what I was thinking, my reloading scale goes to 0.1gn or 0.0065g accuracy, so it's better than the digital scale. In any case, the new little digital scale checked out pretty much exactly with the reloading beam balance.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline PrimeRib

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In any case, the new little digital scale checked out pretty much exactly with the reloading beam balance.


Thanks for posting your test results. I have that same digital scale and I find it to be more than accurate for baking pizza and bread. 


Offline Tscarborough

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I just bought the scale, thanks for the link.  How dd the party go?