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sourdough not very sour :>(

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newtie2's picture
newtie2

sourdough not very sour :>(

Hi all-

I'm using Bitman's bread in a cast iron pot recipe with excellent results except for one thing; my bread has virtually no taste.

I'm using Sourdough Lady's rye starter which has worked fine. The bread has excellent texture and crust and rises just fine

I use Bitman's recipe and add about 1/2 cup of starter, and let it rise in the garage overnight (aboiut 50 degrees) after which it has almost doubled in bulk. I bring it in, put it out on the counter and then fold three times. I then cover it and put it in the refrigerator overnight again to rise. The next day I pull it out, put it on the counter again, over three times and then let it rise for about two hours. I then follow Bittman's recipe of baking it for 30 minutes covered, followed by 10 minutes uncovered. As you can see from the picture here, the crust is excellent as well as the texture. However, not much/no flavor. Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

 

Mark

balabusta's picture
balabusta

Mark,

I couple of thoughts - although I don't know Bitman's recipe.

Have you tasted the sourdough?  If the SD does not have a complex SD flavor, neither will the bread.

Did you add salt?  Salt adds structure to the dough and enhances flavor.

Diane 

 

newtie2's picture
newtie2

Hi Diane-

I upped the salt content from Bitman's recipe to 11g from 9g and still no go. Also, the starter doesn't smell sour, which I find odd. However, it blooms nicely and as you can see, the bread texture is excellent.

It's not that the bread tastes bad, but it doesn't taste like the sourdough bread that you buy in the store which has a real sour taste to it. I think what I'm asking is how to make the bread more sour; it's not that there's anything inherently wrong I suppose. 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

I would like to understand how to control the amount of sour flavor better. How important is the starter itself? I've heard some people say that the flavors in sourdough bread are more affected by what you do with the preferment and the dough in terms of rise time and temperature, and not so much a function of the the starter itself. On the other hand, I've heard others, including the last post saying that the starter flavor is critical to the final flavor of the bread. I can think of good reasons for both having a big effect on the flavor, but I have yet to sort this out and would love to hear what experienced sourdough bakers would say on what are the most important factors affecting the sour flavor of the final result.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

You've asked a really big question! :) This has been discussed a lot here, and perhaps searching for phrases like sourdough, tangier, flavor, etc. will help you find a lot of different answers and suggestions.

 

There really are many factors in sourdough flavor development. For one, a culture will develop flavor as it ages; ie, the flavor of a new starter just a few weeks old will not be as strong as one you've kept going for a few months (or years). Also, the living creatures in your starter (wild yeasts and bacteria) respond differently to different environments (moisture, temperature, how much and what type of food is available). And yet another factor is that sourdough strains can differ regionally.

 

Really good sourdough bakers carefully control the environment to get the flavor they want. Most home bakers (well at least me) are less exact and try out different types of starters (firm or wet, for example) and different feeding schedules to see if we can find the flavors we like. We try different recipes, split out starters into two and try different types of flour, or different proportions, and then compare.

 

Sounds like you're off to a good start--there's a lot of good information here, and in the books recommended on the site.
bwraith's picture
bwraith

Breadnerd,

Thanks for your comment. I must have read thousands of googled comments on the many things bakers and scientists say will affect the sour flavor in the last few years. However, I've had a hard time finding a "treatise" that puts it all in perspective. I'm wondering if there is an overall theory or model of what's happening inside a starter culture and in the subsequent fermentation in the bread dough that someone may have written up on the web or in the right book that can identify the main factors and their effects.

For example, has someone created a model that might use concentrations of three organisms - a yeast, an acetic/lactic acid producing lactobacillus, and a lactic acid only producing bacillus? I'm imagining that you could specify initial concentrations of those three organisms in the starter culture, along with initial concentrations of acetic acid and lactic acid. Then, it might be possible to make a model using some assumed population growth rates and acetic acid and lactic acid production rates in a given dough, assuming some properties of the flours used, hydration level, temperature, and time, what the final concentration of acetic and lactic acid would be.

I'm hoping there is a more comprehensive approach someone has written up on this subject. So far, I feel like there are various "rules of thumb" and all kinds of anecdotes describing this or that technique which may have resulted in a more or less sour flavor, but I haven't had luck finding an overall comprehensive approach so far.

I'm trying to get a feel for:

What is the relative importance to final flavor of a) the flavors/ripeness of the "first" starter, b) the type of "preferments" (like solid/batter) made from the starter, c) the ripeness/flavor of the resulting preferment due to temp/rise times of the preferment, d) the proportion of preferment in the final dough, e) the temperatures, rise times, hydrations of the final dough.

If I had a better sense of the above, I think it would help a lot when deciding what things to focus on. I would hopefully know better whether to focus more on my starters or on the preferments or on the bulk fermentation when experimenting with  changes to my recipes.

I've been making sourdough breads for a couple of years and have made and maintained a few different starters, played with quite a few different recipes, read a number of books, and surfed a fair amount on various sites devoted to sourdough. I've enjoyed it and made some good bread along the way.

At this point, I'm curious to find a more technical explanation of sourdough bread production than I've found so far. Most of the well known books understandably gloss over a scientific discussion. Usually there aren't more than a few pages with any technical discussion. I keep hoping there is a book with several chapters or maybe even an entire book with a more technical and scientific approach.

Sorry this is such a long post, but it's an attempt to describe in more detail what I was thinking about when I asked the question above.

Thanks, Bill

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I'm sorry I misunderstood the depth of your question--I think I read into the context of the thread and thought you were new to sourdough. Apologies!

You ask a lot of good questions that I certainly am not knowledgeable enough to answer. The most technical discussion of this I've read is "the taste of bread" by Raymond Calvel, though he doesn't talk entirely about sourdough, he devotes a lot of time to it. It's a dense read but I think you'd like it, if you haven't read it already :)

 

I took a class Didier Rosada from (at the time) SFBI and I'm sure his advanced courses would cover this--mine was definitely more of an overview course (1 day seminar) and he did cover the components of what makes up a sourdough culture, and what goes on during different stages of development. Sounds to me like you'd really enjoy an upper-level course like this.

 

Hope more knowledgeable folks chime in here, as well!

balabusta's picture
balabusta

Hi Bill

You probably  want to read Classic Sourdoughs by Ed Wood.  There are 6 chapters.  Chapter 1, The Birth and Life of Sourdough; Chapter 2, The Ingredients of Sourdough Bread; Chapter 3, Putting It all Together; Chapter 4, Recipes; Chapter 5, Baking Sourdough in Bread Machines (I suppose....), Chapter 6, Wild Cultures.

You can find more information at http://www.sourdo.com/

I also bought several different sourdough strains. but I can't say that I noticed the difference between the one I started and the one I purchased.  Having said that, I was a newbie with SD, so I am going to try another strain later this spring and see if there is difference.

Diane

balabusta's picture
balabusta

Breadnerd,

Yes, I've had the same experience as you. 

At first, I let book directions dictate to the gram and temperature degree how I kept my SD.  Now, to maintain my SD starter, I save about a teaspoon, add some water, throw in some flour, and knead until I get the right consistency. I find that a small stiff SD starter keeps well in my refrigerator and is very forgiving if I forget to refresh in a week. 

I also have found that if I make a SD dough, and my timing is off, and I place it in my cooler overnight, the SD flavor intensifies.

I just made a rye bread using the detmolder process which basically coaxes different flavors out of the culture over three phases. 

Diane

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Breadnerd, Diane,

Thanks very much for the reading suggestions. I haven't read either of those, though I was looking at them as possible purchases recently when trying to find the most sourdough oriented books. I'm told there is also a more technical discussion in "The Bread Builders", which is coming my way sometime soon. I've reached a plateau in my sourdough baking process where I've begun to understand better how all the different parts of the process fit together, and I'm beginning to have a feel for how to manipulate the factors to change a recipe with an idea of a final result I'd like to achieve. I have an idea there are some sources of information that I've just missed along the way. Being an engineer by background, the idea that someone may have put all this into some perspective with some more technical approach is appealing. However, reading scientific papers, even though I've found a few that seem to discuss exactly the sort of model I was describing above, is a little too far for me to go just yet. It would be nice to find an author who knows the scientific details and has summarized and simplified the information just enough to make it accessible without completely obscuring the details.

I recently read some discussion that there are two general approaches, "traditional" and "modern", where traditional concentrates on getting the flavor from the starter and  preferment stages, and "modern" relies more on the bulk fermentation and final rise times and temperatures to obtain more flavor. The explanation for the move to a modern method is that modern flours have more protein content and enzymes, which allow for a longer rise due to greater nutrient availability over time combined with a more tolerant, resilient gluten. It talks about how you need to distinguish between the advice in these methods, which would be quite different. I think this may account for my comment that sometimes, it seems that people focus very much on the starter and preferment flavors, whereas others seem to focus on the handling of the bulk fermentation and final rise conditions.

Again thanks, and no need to apologize for thinking I'm a newbie. I'm more or less in the "intermediate" stage, but it's still hard to ask a question without stumbling around quite a bit.

Thanks, Bill

earwax's picture
earwax

This guy has some info and links http://samartha.net/SD/index.html

Also might check out rec.food.sourdough group. Like everything out there, you'll have to sift through it, but there are some knowlegeable people taking part, and many links. Some interesting and funny people, too.

EW

mike 300's picture
mike 300

First, it is my understanding that longer, slower, fermentations (overnight refrigeration) can produce more flavor.  Second, I have been told that regardless of your culture, if it is moved to a different location (San Francisco to Seattle) the local microflora will inhabit the culture.  Therefore, a San Francisco sourdough can only be made in San Francisco.

sourdough-guy's picture
sourdough-guy

 Mike, I'm afraid you've been bitten by the urban myth fly.

 

This is quite an old thread anyway.

 

Sourdough-guy

mike 300's picture
mike 300

Could you be more specific?  I'm always open to learning.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think you are right on with the First understanding although I'm beginning to think that variations in sourdough starter could prove otherwise.   


The idea of moving a starter to a new location... well, I'm working on that one.  I have transported a very distinctive SD from Austria to China and am using half of my sample for 5 months.  Then I will wake up the other half and see if the two are different.  Then I will take it back to Austria and make a loaf there with the same ingredients as the original and make comparisons.   I still have plenty of time to figure out the details, but that is the basic plan. 
  
Since yesterday, I'm glad not to have found gluten to add to my bread.  Now I've been busy with the names and sources that have shown up with the cat/dog food scandal,  When the FDA is finished, I will aquire my long lost ingredient. 
Mini Oven

mike 300's picture
mike 300

I'm anxious to learn your results.  Hope all is well.

mike 300's picture
mike 300

Thank you all.  I too will have to continue experimenting.