Once you view the DVD you may have more questions especially if you have ethusiastically tried the bread and it did not come out like you wanted it to. This page is for frequently asked questions like:

Why didn’t my bread rise nice and high?

First off, if you are baking on a stone, the shape of the bread will be different than what we are generally used to from bakers here in America. But if that shape is no problem, but you think the bread you made is not fluffy like it should be, there are 4 main reasons why:

1. You let it raise too long after you did the final shaping. High altitudes are susceptable to a fast rise after shaping.Generally you form the loaf and place immediately in the oven on the hot stone. Lower altitudes not so much and can even be basketed for 5-10 min. after the final rising, then dumped out or moved carefully using both hands onto the stone. If you live at a lower altitude you need to experiment with how long to raise after shaping.

2. The stone and or oven was not hot enough. If you have an oven that will go to 525 deg. F, use that temp. preheating for 1/2 hr to 45 min. Sourdough likes a very hot oven to give it that oven spring. If your oven only goes to 475 deg.F make sure you have preheated the stone in the oven for at least 1/2 hr. Quickly place one loaf at a time in the oven  and shut the door quickly so the heat does not escape.

3. You do not have enough flour in your dough to give it shape. It is too “wet”. Go ahead and make focaccia on a cookie sheet and next time you make the bread ,add more flour to give you a “drier” or stiffer dough– but not too dry!.

4. The starter was weak and did not proof your bread(make it light and airy) so you should have left it to rise longer until when you stirred it it seemed almost alive and stranded and almost moved on its own. It will also fall if you over-raise it and you end up with a big bowl of starter, or if you stir it too much after the rising time.

Hope that helps!


Some questions on starter, rye grain flour

Hi, Gwen,
Here are a few questions I have for you:
1. Do I need to feed it with 1/2 C every week?  I have tried feeding start I got from you in the past and that makes it grow really fast especially if I am only using a few teaspoons to make bread every week.

2. Do I need to make bread the day after I feed the start (and it’s all warm and bubbly) or can I bake with it any time straight out of the fridge?

3. I have tried making Essene bread and have noticed that I feel better eating bread made with rye than I do with wheat.  I also noticed that your start recipe calls for rye flour instead of wheat flour.  Is there something special about rye?  I’d like to lean toward using grains other than wheat in my bread– what do you suggest?  I know that it’s harder to make a nice rising bread with other flours since the gluten content is lower.

Thank you so much!  And thanks for the recipe.  I look forward to feeding my family healthier bread.


Dear Camilla.

1. I feed the starter when I bake. As long as I have fed it not more than one week ago, and kept it in the fridge for that week, it is still nice and strong to raise my bread. So on baking day I bring it out and put some in my bread as I make it. Then I use some of the fresh ground flour to feed  the starter and give it some water so that the consistency is what I want. Then I put it on the kitchen window sill and let the starter bubble for a day. That night I put it in the fridge and because I make bread every week it lasts until I do it again. If you bake more rarely, you need to bring it out the day before you bake and do so as above, for a day, letting it bubble to get nice and lively. I call this refreshing it. The half cup you mentioned is aprox. and depends on how much starter you want to have. By the way every few months change your container to a new clean container. It just helps keep it what it is.  ( I kind of misunderstood her question: You can keep as much starter on hand as you would like to. Less starter needs less flour to feed it  each week. I do 1/2 C.  of flour to feed mine because I have two cups of starter in my jar, usually.

By the way, I had a neighbor once  who had a starter in her fridge that her great -great grandmother had brought across the plains! She prized it highly, as did her sisters with theirs, and she knew exactly how old it was. How’s that for tying the generations together!

2. I think I answered that in 1. But just remember that it goes inactive in the fridge, in other words eats very slowly( the microbes are eating the flour nutrients) and can eventually run out of nutrients if it just sits there. That does not mean it is ruined. If you take it out and feed it, let it sit for a day and it does not bubble, it is ruined and you’ll have to make a new one from scratch, or get some more  from a friend. I highly recommend making a back up that you keep in the freezer should anything happen to your wonderful starter you made. I know it keeps viable in the freezer for at least 9 months. After that ?? Also the thinner the starter(more watery) the quicker it runs out of nutrients.  By the way, the pioneers did not have fridges so what they did was feed it at every meal( because they used it each meal for pancakes or muffins or bread) and that refreshed it and kept it going. I once left starter on my cupboard to see what happened without feeding it and it was rotten smelling in about 3-4 days. I heard a funny story the other day that the old prospectors used to keep it warm in their armpits thru the night so it would not freeze and be ready to use the next day! O well, you got to do what you got to do, I guess. Ha! I think they must have kept it in a ball of bread dough consistency to do that with it. I had heard before of the pioneers keeping it under their blankets when they slept to keep it from freezing–you see if it froze it would be hard to work with in the morning as a frozen lump.

3.You can make a 100% rye loaf. It will not raise very high, but people do it. Rye is not high in gluten, but very nutritious,-nothing like  wheat,of course, with its upwards of 20 vitamins and minerals. However, I love to add rye to my wheat bread, it adds  a marvelous flavor. I often make an oat -(1/2 c oatmeal)., rye,(1C berries), and the rest wheat berries thru my mill to use in a 8 C. water bread batch. Sometimes for variety I add 2 T. of caraway seeds to that-just put them through the mill with your grains. Yumm!– and variety is the spice of life!

As for the rye starter, you can make a 100% rye starter and always feed it with rye flour or wheat and rye for that matter. Rye is very condusive to sourdough–the flora or something, and it makes a starter from scratch very quickly. Since you use very little starter in each batch of bread, it does not affect that ratio much.

Thanks for you interest, and Happy Baking!,



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