The good news is that it’s really, REALLY, hard to kill bacteria ...so there’s a good chance it’s still alive.
Sometimes it gets finicky and just needs a “factory reset”.
Make sure the starter is at room temperature.
Remove all but ¼ cup of the starter and feed with fresh flour and water.
The next day, remove half and feed it again.
Do this for 3 days or just until you have nice bubbly starter again.
This ‘refresh” should do the trick.
Yes. If you go too small, when the dough is rising (after you’ve shaped it), it can rise up and over the bowl. I
f it’s too large, the dough can rise and bake “outwards” instead of “upwards”.
I recommended THIS ONE in a 4.3 qt (a 4 or 5 quart would be fine too
I use a nice cake stand like THIS one to keep my bread in.
You could also just plastic wrap or storage bags.
To freeze the loaf, wrap it tightly in a plastic wrap.
Alternatively, you could slice the loaf first and then store the bread in a freezer bag.
You could lower the temperature and bake a little longer or put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to help deflect some of the heat.
I’ve learned the hard way that all parchment paper is NOT created equal.
There are two things to look for in a good paper.
The first, and most important, is that the paper doesn’t stick to the finished bread.
It should be able to slide right off. The second, is that you should be able to reuse it.
If it’s brittle and breaking after just one use then it won’t hold up to a second baking.
I store my used parchment right in the Dutch Oven and can usually get at least 3 or 4 uses out of it before it is too brittle.
Yes, you can dehydrate it and store in an airtight container.
When you are ready to “activate” it, add some water and follow the steps above for a “refresh”.
This sounds like it rose too long on the first rise.
If it sits too long, the bacteria works its way through the gluten and it will no longer hold its shape.
The easiest solution is to just lower the time that it rises.
In the summertime (because the temperatures are warmer), this could be as little as 4-5 hours.
Well there’s not a one size fits all answer to this one.
Sometimes it just happens and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.
Sometimes the starter needs a factory reset (see above) and sometimes it’s because you forgot to do the ‘pull and turn’ (which is surprisingly helpful for a nice large fluffy loaf.
One other thing to mention is that if you are using any sort of “whole grain flour” they will affect the loaf.
Whole grains have bran and that bran will “slice” through the little microscopic air bubbles, leaving the bread more flat.
Checkout the Troubleshooting Section.
Sadly no, and here’s why.
The accuracy of this recipe, probably more than any other recipe, is critical to its success.
The only way to get it precise enough is to use a scale.
But trust me, once you get the hang of it you’ll be hooked and wonder why we don’t use the scale for more recipes!