The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Temperature influence on SF sourdough

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annam's picture
annam

Temperature influence on SF sourdough

I tried to follow the instructions in the blog on SF but never did get a "sour" starter.  Just fruity and yeasty smelling.  The blog I read said to have things at 70F (cool).  In our house that wouldn't be cool.  Our temp ranges from 64-68F.  with the starter on the counter with cheese cloth over the jar.   I did put it in the refrigerator even though I didn't think it was ready for that point and left it for 24 hours as in the blog,  still no real sour smell.  Is it impossible to get a real SF starter with our temperature limitations?   I will start over next week as we need a loaf of bread so will bake up what I have.  At least I have an excellent sponge or biga to make a loaf of whatever. :-)

chris319's picture
chris319

Don't expect your starter to smell like the finished bread. If you smell yeast from your starter you're set to go.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

What does it taste like? Use all your senses with natural levain...,

Wild-Yeast

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Much Warmer temps will get you the classic sour in SFSD.  For added sour some will retard there peaked levain for 24 hours.  But when you mix the dough you are gonna want to be in the high 70's or even low 80's.  This is where LAB's are thriving.  Furthermore whole grain in the levain adds a major boost to sour flavor but classic SFSD is a white bread.  Finally after shaping a long cold final rise will bring about more lactic acid.  

Josh

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The minimum temperature is 75 dF. 77 to 80 dF is the range I use for a 12-18 hour development with a stretch and fold at the midpoint (30% levain starter).

I use a slight modification of the old French method "travail sur trois levains" (work of the three levains) in which the refrigerated starter (100 grams water / 100 grams flour) is allowed to warm to room temperature before doubling the flour and water (an additional 100 grams water / 100 grams flour) and allowed to ferment until double in volume at 77-85 dF. It is then doubled again and allowed to ferment for 12-18 hours to build the levain (with a stretch and fold mid ferment at 6-9 hours). Note in the last doubling the water is reduced to 56 grams with 200 grams of flour added to produce a ~64% final hydration ratio.

The over fermented levain produces the necessary lactic acid content for the desired "sour" taste.  Thus it is the length of time the levain is left to "ferment at temperature" that controls the "sourness" of the final bread.

Don't forget to fully develop the gluten content (knead the dough) in the final 70% dough build "before" adding the levain and then the salt. The high acid content of the levain prevents gluten formation.

Wild-Yeast

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

as SF takes time to develop.  Starting over might take longer than heat treating the starter as Wild-Yeast advises.

annam's picture
annam

No sour but a decent loaf of very crusty white bread.     I did start over but will keep the temps warmer, ignoring the "cool" reference in the blog.   Will wait and see if I do get a sour starter this time.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for xx hrs and then raising the temp following additional food.  Some interesting things are going on with bacterial and yeast growth with those changes.  Got a link to the blog?

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Great outcome! A good crusty loaf is a solid indicator that your starter is headed in the right direction. Now to sour it up a tad.

I recommend trying a little organic dark whole rye flour if it's available. It contains lactic acid bacteria and nutrients that aid fermentation in starters. Use a 20% rye to 80% wheat flour ratio to feed the starter and try to keep the temperature within the 77-85 dF range if you can.

Wild-Yeast

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

to developing sour in a starter,.levain, or dough.  Yeast make the dough rise and LAB make it sour.  When the dough is properly risen then you have to bake it - that is the limiting factor.  LAB  love 93 F s their best temperature for reproduction if they have food.  Yeast like 82 F the best if they have food.  Between 68 F and 79 F LAB and yest reproduce at roughly the same rate with LAB slightly outproducing yeast from 2% to 9% on the high end of that range.  Lab outproduce yeast dramatically above 82 F and below  61 F.

To increase sour you want to limit the reproductive rate of yeast causing the dough to rise slower while increasing the reproductive rate of LAB at the same time giving them the advantage to produce as much sour for as long as possible.  The limiting factors are the  wee beasties could run out of food, especially at high temperatures and, in the case of LAB, the ph gets too low which inhibits their ability to reproduce and make acid. 

So, to make more sour when doing things on the counter, like building starters and levain or developing and fermenting dough  do them between 83 F at 93 F ( the higher the better) and when retarding starter, levain and dough do it at between 36 F and 60 F (the lower the better).  This will promote LAB reproduction over yeast and give you a starter, levain and dough with much more LAB in it that if done at room temperature - making for progressively more sour as the bread is built.

By feeding starter and levain progressive increasing amounts of flour and water every 4 hours when building them ,you make sure that the wee beasties don't run out of food and you keep the pH above 4.   In a perfect world for developing sour in bread everything would be done at 36 F and 93 F.  Things happen very slow at 36 F so the longer the better but things happen very fast at 93 F  so you need ti watch the culture has enough food 

The idea that whole grains also promote sour is correct from my experience.  But, even that can be played with too.  When I mill whole grains and sift out the 20 %  of hard bits.   This is what I feed my starter and levain and the uptick in sour is noticeable.

As in most things, sour is relative.  Most people do not like really sour bread so the Forkish and Tartine method of making bread is just fine for them - where things are done at room temperature.  But if you want more sour, all you have to do use whole grains for the starter and levain and up the temperature  of counter work and lower the temperature of non counter work or some combination of them. 

A proofer or heating pan along with the fridge can be your friend.  Just upping the temperature to 84 F for counter work and lowering them to 46 F will make a huge difference in how sour your starter, levain and bread will be.  You dnlt have to crazy about it like I am:-)  The experimenting to find your sweet spot .....for sour....is the fun part.

Happy sour baking. 

  

annam's picture
annam

I have given up attempting SF sourdough despite my wish to be able to make some.   Having no success in getting a "sour" fermentation in a starter,  I tried using a purchased starter.  No luck there either.  It will ferment  just as my no knead breads do but in our home climate,   sour dough is out of the question.  It is too warm in front of the gas heater,  too cool in the rest of the house.  The house is never over 68-70 during the day and max at night is 64.   In the summer, temps vary except when so hot that the AC is on, and then it is set for 75.   Thanks for trying to help but unless I find a friendly pen pal in CA to send a starter that might work in cooler areas,  BOO HOO  no sourdough for me unless I want to make the fake, flavored sour doughs they sell in the store.  I did borrow the book from the library that sourdo.com publishes and it pretty much verifies that my temps will never do.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

"It is too warm in front of the gas heater,  too cool in the rest of the house."

I declare that the laws of thermodynamics or some other fancy law means that you should be able to find a space between the heater and the rest of the house where the temperature is just right. Just like getting too close to the fire burns, but as you move further away, the temperature becomes warm and finally cool.  You just have to get to the right distance.

And if for some reason you can't use the space between the gas heater and wherever it is that the temperature is ideal, then you should still be able to use your oven as a proofer. Since the oven is in a spot that is "too cool",  you just have to turn it on for a bit until it is not too cool, no? Or turn the light on. Or some combination of the two.

The oven is remarkably well insulated so if you heat up a cast iron pan on the stove top and put it in the oven, you may find it gets the temperature in the sweet spot you are after.

imaloafer's picture
imaloafer

I often turn my oven into my proof box by boiling water in a small sauce pan and placing it into the oven. It provides the right temp and humidity for fermentation. I use Tartine method, not a sour build, but my leaven takes 8-9 hours in my house when it's about 68 and a bit longer 10-12 if 65 degrees, which it often is in winter time.

Try the oven trick with the water, or cast iron as suggested and see how it goes. Ovens are very well insulated and make nice DIY proof boxes with some practice.

annam's picture
annam

I had considered the methods using the oven, etc.  but that only works for short term leavening. After 8-12 hours  the skillet, hot water, etc.  isn't at all helpful.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

That is true if you are not home, but if you are home and awake, you can reheat that skillet.

Still, it is a chore and if you don't want to buy a proofing box and can't otherwise make it work, you are doing the right thing by asking yourself if it is worthwhile, and certainly if you get a starter that works better for you environment that is the best solution.  Good luck to you.

(I still can't figure out how there can be a spot that is consistently too warm, but not a spot far enough away from that spot which is not just the right temperature....)

Capn Dub's picture
Capn Dub

At the risk of repeating myself too often, I'll go ahead and say it again: dabrownman has it right.  As I've mentioned in other threads, the problem is getting the dough temperature up to 92°F quickly before the dough has already risen to the point where it must be baked.  My solution, which seems to work like a charm, is to preheat everything to 92°--the starter, water, flour--before mixing the dough, then maintaining that temp until baking time.  Doing this bypasses those lower temperatures where the yeast thrives more than the LAB.  Thus, you get more sour before it becomes necessary to bake.