The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wanting More sour in my bread

Bob B's picture
Bob B

Wanting More sour in my bread

Hi Out there I hope that all is well with everyone. I have a question. I have been makeing a SF sour dough I think it is out of the bread bible. I want to get more of a sour tast. will adding more starter to it help? It calls for one cup of starter now. for one loaf but it is not as sour as I would like. any Ideas?? Thanks for the help.

Have a great day


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I have been makeing a SF sour dough I think it is out of the bread bible. I want to get more of a sour tast. will adding more starter to it help?

Hard to say, but if you provide more details about the formula, method, and how you maintain your starter, maybe someone here can help you get closer to what you're looking for :-)

Bob B's picture
Bob B

my starter is refrigerated I take it out a day before let it warm up over night then feed it in the am before i go to work. other than that i follow the  instr. the starter is made from unbleached white flower it is a couple of months old now it looks great when it is done but not as sour as I would like. :-)

sephiepoo's picture

I've seen a couple threads on here about people with a similar difficulty, so you might try searching for "more sour sourdough"?

One thing that works pretty well is just time.  If I want a loaf that is significantly more sour, I'll do one rise at room temp, and then lightly degas and then give it a second rise overnight in my refrigerator.  The first time I tried this, DF and I were so overjoyed at the success that I'll do this if I want a distinct sourness.

Could you post your recipe and maybe we can figure it out from there? You might also want to try using a smaller amount of starter, and if the recipe calls for commercial yeast, leave it out.

Bob B's picture
Bob B

Hi again here is the recipe         5.5 cups bread flower

1 package active yeeast,           1/2 tsp baking powder

1.5 cups warm water

1 cup Sd starter

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp vinegar

add  suger and yeast to the water set aside untill foamy (10 min)  stir in the starter,salt,and vinegar 3 cups of flower cover with an oiled plastic and let rise till doubled in size .

punch down and combine with the remaining flower and bakeing soda kneed till somth and elastic and no sticky shape into loafson a greased and flowerd sheet cover with oiled sheet and let rise till doubled in sise.

preheat the oven to 450 place a pan of water and bake 10 minutes reduce heat to 400 remove the water and bake for 35 min misting twice more

thats it I hope some one can give me some ideas

Thanks Bob

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I have to agree with Larry and David---this isn't SF sourdough.

tananaBrian's picture

Don't let anyone cause you lamentations... many people new to the world of sourdough trust the book they own as having good advice, but just so you know, using commercial yeast at all means you are not growing a sourdough starter.  You are cultivating commercial yeast.  Your yeast and lacto bacillus culture needs to be either created from what's in your local air, alone, or needs to come from someone else's starter that was started this way.  Why?  Yeast growth out-paces bacterial growth, the sour comes from the lacto bacillus bacteria culture, and commercial yeast is designed to propagate itself very fast ...the goal being fast, not necessarily flavorful.  Wild yeast grows slower than commercial, and cooler temperatures slow it even further so the bacteria can keep up.  You're fighting an uphill battle if you stick with having any commercial yeast in your starter.  (I'd toss it out and mark it up to experience and learning.)

That said, referring back to the "yeast out-paces bacteria" concept, you should get a more flavorful sourdough starter, and resulting bread, if you do what you can to allow only slow yeast growth both during the fermentation of your starter and your dough.  You don't need to allow your starter to warm up overnight either.  Just use it cold and let it ferment at a cooler temperature (50 to 75 F ?), and the same applies to your dough ferment.  Experience and experiments will let you know what to do ...but the FIRST thing to do is to start a natural starter and get it healthy (with patience can take weeks to months to reach a mature stage of the starter, but then it's good forever as long as you keep feeding it.)

I didn't search the site, but I'm sure there are good "how to start a starter" instructions here somewhere.  But in general, reject any process that contains anything more than all-purpose flour and plain water in it.  Add patience and time and you'll get your starter... Or look for someone who's located in your area and ask them for some starter ...fresh, not dry.



Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

What are you making? It's not sourdough. Sourdough takes time and adding yeast, baking powder, and vinegar speeds up the proofing process which is exactly what you don't want.

Here's a link to a thread with someone who has the opposite problem.  A ton of info to wade through but very educational.



dmsnyder's picture


If you want to make a fabulous, delicious San Francisco-style sourdough, please make or buy a real sourdough starter and use that. Adding vinegar to make a yeasted bread "sour" cannot duplicate the complex flavor of a real sourdough made with a "wild yeast" culture.

If you need information about how to start a culture, nurture it and use it to make great breads, you have come to the right place. You just asked the wrong question.


noyeast's picture

the most important thing I discovered about making a great sourdough loaf with really good sour flavour, is patience.  The reason I thought it the most important thing is because I'm always in a hurry and I found I just can't make good SD ... fast.


A great SD starter is simply flour and water.  Yep thats it !


A cup of each will do for a start.  Leave it for a week on the benchtop in a jar, uncovered then add 1/4 cup more water and the same amount of flour again, stir well and leave it on the bench another week. Because its very wet, it won't dry out and airborne micro organisms can " innoculate" your starter.

Keep doing this untill you see some bubbles appearing. This means you have made a starter from airborne yeast and bacteria plus what was in the four to start with.


After 3-6 weeks ( there's your first test of patience) you can begin a regular feeding regime which you can read up more about on this forum. It takes that long for a natural starter to develop.  You should study up on feeding and starter health if you really want a great starter.


How to make more sour, sourdough bread :

put simply, use LESS starter and take longer to ferment and proof your bread.  For a 4 cup loaf, instead of using a cup of starter ( and some yeast) use a desertspoon of healthy, active starter and don't use any commercial yeast at all.  That is a no no for SD purists because that will ferment your dough too quickly and give your SD starter no time to work its magic.

Once you've mixed your dough and kneaded according to your recipe, allow it to begin fermenting by leaving it at room temp for a minimum of 4 hours and preferably 7-8.

By this time you may begin to see it rising or you may not.  Ideally it should have just begun to swell just a little.

Now place it in the fridge for 15-20 hours for a cold retardation.  Take it out and rest at room temp for 4 hours or till it has reached room temp.  Now let it rise until it has significantly risen, this may take a day or even a day and a night.  Keep it covered so it does not form a dry crust.

Next, shape your dough to its final shape, this will reduce the lump of dough to the original size all over again but it doesn't matter, don't worry.    Leave to rise (proof) in a slightly warm place, 20 degrees C will do just fine.  Now this is where you need extra patience because you want to wait til its at least 2.5 times its original size before baking.  Even three times depending on the type of loaf you are making.  This may take quite a while but it doesn't matter.

Ten bake.  Once you have done this a few times, you will get to know how long its going to take and you can establish a "beginning point" on a certain day at a certain time to help you know when your final bread will be ready.


Now you will discover a great sour flavour.   The whole process takes me two days.





Bob B's picture
Bob B

Thanks for the comments.

many of you feel this is not a true Sf sour dough. could well be I am new at this.

would any of you mind shareing a good sour dough recipe with me? I would be very thankfull.

Thanks again


sphealey's picture


Initially you mentioned that you were using a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's _The Bread Bible_.  One thing to be aware of:  RLB's TBB is great for getting started in breadbaking.  She presents recipes that, with just a bit of practice, should succeed 95% of the time.  That's a high percentage for beginning bakers; I was about to quit forever when my son gave me TBB and I was able to take off.

And as a professional baker with many contacts around the world Rose also presents some complex, high-artisan-factor recipes.  However, most of her recipes should be used to get startd with, learn technique with, and then grow beyond.

The receipe you posted called for 1 cup of "starter".  Is that an actual sourdough starter that you grew yourself or purchased, or is it a yeast-based preferment?

If you don't have a sourdough starter, then I would advise purchasing a seed culture from King Arthur.  You can start your own ( ), and I would advise doing that for your _second_ starter, but to avoid frustration I would get a known working one for the first round.

King Arthur will also send you a recipe for Vermont Country Sourdough, which is a variation on the one in Jeffery Hamelman's advanced book _Bread_.  It includes two versions:  one boosted with yeast which is good to get started with, and one without any added yeast that is a "real" sourdough.

If you already have a starter, there is a discussion of the Vermont recipe here: (the formula is discussed down the thread).

Here's a great discussion of how to make your dough sour-er:  Feeding with 50% whole wheat flour will do it in my experience; I had to discard one stater I was feeding with wheat flour because it go so acid it would destroy the flour in a dough before it had a chance to form gluten!  I was waiting for it to eat its way through the bottom of my refrigerator....   Also, my family wouldn't eat bread that sour ;-(