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Sourness of Bread

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bblearner's picture
bblearner

Sourness of Bread

It seems that most sourdough bread bakers are aiming for breads with quite some sourness.  I'm the opposite.  Last Sunday I made two batches of breads following Mr Dimuzio's advice to a blogger here (can't locate the thread now) of a 4-build starter at 1.67 parts flour plus one of 1:1:1 ratio that I want to make pain de mie with.  The results :



Both breads were very sour, the sourest that I had ever made.  Since I followed the method of feeding the starter 3 times before making bread I was able to finish baking my breads within 6 hours from mixing.  The batard on the right was still within 6 hours but the pain de mie took 8 hours in its final proofing.  Both crumbs are very good, particularly the pain de mie - fluffy yet springy.  What should I do to continue to yield this texture without the super-sourness???


Enid 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Enid:


Your breads look nice.  Could you please share your formula for the pain de mie? Thanks.


Yippee 

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Yippie


My formula was :


All-purpose Flour - 280g


Starter - 150g


Water - 150g


non-fat milk powder - 13g


Sugar - 10g


Salt - 7g


Grapeseed Oil - 26g


I used grapeseed oil because that's my cooking oil and butter would be better.  I mixed everything in a KA stand-mixer and 10 mins of the mixing was at 3-4 speed - bulk ferment for 1 hour - divide, round-up  and rest 20 mins - roll up and rest 15 mins - roll again and proof in pan until the dough almost reached the edge of the pan - cover and bake at 410F for 45 mins - remove the cover after 37 mins or so into baking to brown the top.  The cover was not the original pan lid.  I created a domed cover with a tin-foil cake loaf pan and weighed it down with the original lid.


If you don't mind the super-sournes, you might try.  This was my 1st try to make a pure sourdough pain de mie and I'll keep experimenting until I could reach this texture with much less sourness.  If you see any clue to this, please share with me.


Thanks, Enid

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Enid:


Thank you for your formula.  What's the hydration of your starter? Thanks again.


Yippee

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Yippie


The starter's hydration was 100% and was fed at 1:1:1 ratio.  The formula was a 69% total hydration.  I took off the amount of water and flour in starter when I made the pain de mie.


Enid

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Enid:


Could you tell me the dimension of your pullman pan so that I may adjust the size/weight of my dough accordingly? Thanks.


Yippee

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Yippie


The dimension of my pan is 8"x4"x4".  Happy baking!


Enid

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi,Enid


If you want to make the levain with as little acidity as possible, there is a way, but it's a pain.  The Italians sometimes make a "biga naturale" that's really just a firm starter fed every 4 hours.  I've seen it mostly for use in pannetone and pan d'oro recipes.  It makes bread that leavens very well but has no sour aftertaste.  Like A typical levain, though, it leavens much more slowly than manufactured yeast.


By keeping the starter firm and feeding every 4 hours at a fairly warm temp, they minimize the effects of lactobacilli on the dough.


So, to make this feeding schedule practical, you could refresh your starter every four hours at 80-85 degrees during waking hours over a Saturday,perhaps, and then refrigerate overnight no more than 8 hours.  Get up Sunday morning and feed immediately at 85 degrees, and four hours later you can probably use it to mix your dough and bake (bulk ferment the final dough at around 77 degrees).


And I doubt it will take 8 hours to proof the final loaves -- possibly only two or three, if you use enough firm levain to replace 25% of the total flour in the formula.


If you try my suggestion, I'd be curious to see how the bread turns out.


--Dan DiMuzio

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Mr DiMuzio


Thank you so much for answering my problem.  I will try your suggestion next week.  Before then, can I ask how many times do I need to feed my starter before mixing the dough?


If I wasn't aiming for a pain de mie, I wouldn't have to proof the loaf for 8 hours.  I normally rely on the pan to tell me when to bake i.e. the dough risen to 85-90% of the pan's height.  As for the batard, it was baked within 6 hours of mixing.


Enid

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Enid, I'm just guessing with regard to your particular situation, but I'd recommend feeding it every four hours at the 85 degrees mentioned, maybe with 1 part starter, 0.3 parts water and 0.6 parts fresh flour at every feeding.  If the levain doesn't seem to reach full maturity in the four hour interval, I'd possibly cut back to 1 part starter, 0.2 parts water and 0.4 parts flour.


I'd feed it at least five or six times before use in a dough -- you want to de-emphasize the acidic aspects as much as possible.  Don't forget -- you can feed it four times in one day and then refrigerate, feeding it only once or twice the next day to re-establish its desired characteristics.


And when mixing your final dough, I'd recommend using enough levain to account for around 30% of the flour in the final dough.  That should cut any final proof time down to 3 hours or less.

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Oh, Mr DiMuzio, I was too eager to try and had already fed my starter 4 times yesterday at 1:2:1 (S:F:W) ratio; and once more this morning (before seeing your reply) as I plan to make bread today.  My starter is an averagely active one - it takes 10-12 hours to reach its peak.  So I noticed it had not expanded much at the end of 4 hours, though it became a very soft dough.  I'll boost the pain de mie with 1g of instant yeast and let the batard stay a pure sourdough.  I hope the batard won't turn out a brick.


I'll try your above feeding ratio on my next bake.  In the meantime, is there a way that I could tune my starter up to a more active one, say, peak in 6-8 hours?


Thanks, Enid

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Enid,


Did you keep the starter at 85 degrees?  It won't need anything like 12 hours to peak at that temperature.

bblearner's picture
bblearner

My home is normally at 70-72.  This morning it was cloudy and room temperature was 70 and after a whole afternoon of sun, it has reached 79.  So today I had to turn on the oven to 150F and switch it off with light to final proof my breads - my usual practice.  Even by doing this, all my yeasted breads took more than double the time called for in recipes in final proofing.  Enid

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Okay, Enid.  I'm not aware of where you live or how much control you have over room temperature, but 70 degrees is fairly cool, especially for summer.


That's why it's taking 2-3 times as long as any recipe specifies -- most printed recipes would assume a room temp of around 75-80 degrees.  I don't know how to advise you here -- you can try leaving a calibrated thermometer someplace in your home that is warmer than the rest.  Still, if you can't maintain an 85 degree temp (not 80 and not 90, but around 84 to 86 degrees), then the ability of the culture to mature in only four hours may be compromised, and some acidity will probably develop.


Try getting as close as you can.  You might at least get less sourness, instead of intense sourness.


--Dan DiMuzio

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Mr DiMuzio, here comes the result :



 



My husband didn't take a photo of the pain de mie's crumb but I can assure you it is not sour at all and is as fluffy and springy as I like.  I won't count the result this time as it had the help of 1g's instant yeast.  For the batard, it certainly is not open enough compared with sourdoughs that I made with the regular 3/4-build starters.  There is a very mild sourness in it and I consider that very acceptable and a characteristic of sourdough breads.  The batard is my weekly bake and recently they burst on the side.  I presume this is the result of shaping too tight. 


I live in Vancouver, Canada.  I started baking bread this seriously since November last year and created my starter in February this year.  There was only once or twice that the kitchen temperature reached 30C that the final proofing could finish in 2.5 hours.


From now on, I'll work on the correct temperature to get a more active starter (fed 4-hourly) to achieve my ideal breads.


Thank you very very much, Enid

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Enid,


Any method you use that gives you the result you want -- as seems to be the case with your pain de mie -- is a successful method.  If what you just did seems pleasing, I wouldn't recommend changing anything.


If you're using "bread flour" that was milled in Canada, it is almost certainly all hard spring wheat, which will tend to absorb a lot of water -- probably more than what your recipes specify.  In the case of the sourdough batard, I'd say that either the dough was too firm or the dough was mixed/handled too much, or both.  A wetter dough will help create an open crumb, as will limiting the higher-speed mixing (or medium speed, in the case of most home mixers) to about 3 or 4 minutes -- 5 at most.  If the dough still seems too underdeveloped, just fold it an extra time or two during the bulk fermentation.


Another option would be to use unbleached All-Purpose flour as your primary bread flour.  I'm not certain, but Robin Hood's is probably a bit stronger than those here in the U.S.  It would still absorb much less water than bread flour.


What is your batard's hydration?


--Dan DiMuzio

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Mr DiMuzio


The batard's hydration was only 72%.  (Ingredients were: AP Flour 95%, Dark Rye Flour 5%, Water 72%, Salt 2.2% and 50% hydration Starter 50%).  Actually I was following Richard Bertinet's book "Crust" for the formula on sourdough breads.  His method uses a starter of 50% hydration, and dough hydration 82%.  My 1st sourdough bread was flat and sour.  When I changed to your 60% hydration starter, fed 3 times, mentioned in davidg618's post I cut down the water to 70% and got a nicely risen and good flavour boule.


The batard was kneaded by hand - no mixer used.  I found it impossible to just stretch and fold when a firm starter was involved but during bulk fermentation, two stretch-and-fold's were performed in an hourly interval.  I rounded the dough up as soon as I felt it was smooth and not sticking to the counter anymore.


I used to bake bread with unbleached all-purpose flour by Robin Hood but once touring in Costco, we came across the Rogers All-purpose flour, 10Kg bag priced at least CAD2 cheaper than an RH 5Kg bag and was attracted by the price and forgot to look for the word "unbleached".  I have been regretting this till now.  It takes me at least 6 weeks to use the 10Kg up and its breads were not flavourful enough!!


I'm still adamant in making a pure sourdough pain de mie and hope to be able to do this with a more active starter and the "right" temperature.


Thank you once again, Enid

Yippee's picture
Yippee


 (Ingredients were: AP Flour 95%, Dark Rye Flour 5%, Water 72%, Salt 2.2% and 50% hydration Starter 50%).  



 


Mr. DiMuzio:


Thank you very much for your informative posts.  Each and every time, I learn something new from them.


In the above formula, my interpretation of the water % is that the overall hydration of the final dough, including the water in the starter, is 72%.  Am I correct?  


If a formula calls for eggs, oil/butter, would you include them as part of the overall hydration %  [72%(if I interpret correctly) in the above example] as well?


Thanks again.


Yippee

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I'd encourage you to read Jeffrey Hamelman's appendix about baker's percentage to get a good feel for what these percentages refer to, and which ones are important.  And which ones aren't.


Unfortunately, some books that try to utilize baker's percentage list some figures that aren't important, which only serve to distract or confuse readers who are beginning bakers.  Telling a baker that the weight of starter is 50% of the weight of the remaining flour in the formula is one example of this.  It may be mathematically true, but it is irrelevant when analyzing the probable wetness or behavior of a starter, or of the dough to which it is added.


In the quote box above, you would actually need to break down the starter (hydrated at 50%) into its component flour and water weights, and then add those weights back into the remaining flour and water for the dough.  Only then would you divide total water weight by total flour weight to get an overall hydration for the dough that has any importance.


When I broke down a theoretical dough's starter into flour and water weights using the percentages above, and then added those weights back into the remaining ingredient weights, I actually came up with white flour at 96%, rye at 4%, water at 66.5%, and salt at 1.65%.


This gets confusing -- I'm sorry, but without a flow chart like the one in the back of my book, I have a hard time explaining this.


Imagine if you asked someone for the age of their oldest child, and they told you it was the square root of their grandmother's present age.   So you have to ask another question about their grandmother's age (64) to figure that the oldest son is 8 years old.  What they answered the first time was mathematically correct, but who cares?  They should have just told you he was 8 yrs. old.


That's not an exact metaphor for what I'm lamenting here, but it is still a valid comparison.  Why confuse readers -- especially beginners -- with mathematical calculations that are of no use in quickly assessing how wet or dry a dough will be?


I'm going to leave you with a quote from the Q&A about my book, and you can go back there if you like to maybe get a fuller picture of how people like me look at baker's math:



flournwater said: 


Bread recipes differ in the amount of starter they require as a ratio to the other combined ingredients.  For example, some will stipulate 500 grams of flour and 100 grams of starter while others might be written to require 500 grams of flour and 150 grams of starter.  My starters are usually 100% - 114% hydration.   When calculating ratios using bakers percentages, do I factor in the flour portion in the starter along with the other flour or just forget about that element?  Should I add more flour to my starter to balance it, in terms of bakers percentages, with the rest of the recipe?


I realize that the amount of starter I use will most assuredly affect the flavor of my bread but trying to calculate the ratio of these ingredients is driving me nuts.


Giving credit where credit is due, this question originated with Climbhi at


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11900/starter-percentage-final-dough#comment-67070


Thanks again ..... 


George



 



 


Dan DiMuzio answered:


George, I think you've got that same hang-dog, "Will somebody explain this???" feeling I had when I realized that I couldn't get any sense or meaning of the baker's percentages I'd seen associated with published recipes.  Everybody seemed to agree that in a straight dough, total flour weight was expressed as 100%.  Once you started making pre-ferments, though, bakers couldn't get together on one, useful way to format baker's percentages and derive meaning from them.


There are two schools of thought I've seen -- maybe more?


One (the one I think is driving you crazy) lists flour in the formula at 100%, and then below that somewhere you'll see "poolish" or "sponge" or "levain" listed as some percentage of that flour weight -- like maybe 30%?  So you're thinking, "Wait -- isn't that levain just more flour and water?  Shouldn't that flour and water be added to the other flour and water weights and then have the formula analyzed that way?"


My answer to that question (if that is your question) is that yes, I agree with you, but not all bakers do. Presenting the math that way can be confusing or of questionable use, sometimes.  There are other bakers who, like me, choose to list relevant percentages of flour, water, salt and yeast for the straight dough before we break things down (complicate them) any further with pre-ferments and figure out how to account for them.


I'm going to consult with Floyd and see if I can post a table I use with my students to help them figure out just what you're asking about.  I just don't know how to post it here, and without the visual aid I don't think I'd be successful in explaining it.  I'll leave you here (temporarily) with the idea that yes, I do take the flour from a starter and add it to the remaining flour in the formula before providing you with "baker's percentage", and I do the same with the water or anything else measurable in the starter.


Yippee's picture
Yippee

Mr. DiMuzio:



Unfortunately, some books that try to utilize baker's percentage list some figures that aren't important



I feel the same.  The reason I brought up the question of including oil in the calculation is that I've seen member(s) here using that method to come up with the overall hydration of the final dough. 



In the quote box above, you would actually need to break down the starter (hydrated at 50%) into its component flour and water weights, and then add those weights back into the remaining flour and water for the dough.



This is how I've been handling my calculation, too. 


Thank you again for your detailed clarification.  Your enthusiasm in helping the TFL community is much appreciated.


Yippee


 

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Mr DiMuzio,


Those percentages were calculated by me.  They were not listed in Richard Bertinet's book and nowhere in his recipes had he used the word "percentage".  You asked about the hydration of my batard so I thought I'd better tell by the "%" mark, i.e. "They should have just told you he was 8 yrs. old.".  Sorry for the confusion.


I knew I was sloppy when I calculate the ingredients of my sourdough breads and thought I would get away with any failure if I extended the final proofing time without knowing that I would get extra sourness.  I will take heed to work more carefully in my next bake.


Yours and Mr Hamelman's books are on my order list.  I need to pend the order till October for release of a book on knitting so that I can enjoy free-shipping.


Enid

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I meant no insult in my comments.  I was referring to books I've seen that present calculated percentages which are useless in analyzing the probable characteristics of a pre-ferment or dough.  When you did your calculations, you were merely doing it the way they teach people to do it.  If that was the only way I'd ever seen it done, I would have done the same.


And while I'll be flattered if you obtain my book, I wasn't meaning to plug it there -- that would be inappropriate, in my opinion, and I am not here to do that.  Jeffrey's book has a very good explanation of baker's percentage in an appendix, and you can even possibly get it at your local library.


Good luck with your efforts at using natural leaveners to make non-sour breads.


--Dan DiMuzio

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Enid:


I was merely quoting your %s out of convenience because they were right there, didn't mean to be critical, either. Thanks again for sharing the formula. 


Yippee

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

I just saw this thread and it is very interesting and confirms what I have been learning from the TFL and Dan's writings and book.


I too was looking to make a much less sour "sour dough" and had been quite frustrated with my very sour bread (most folks seem to want more sour, I wanted much less.)  My last sour dough turned out what I call "not too sour".  I was doing first 4 feedings a day and then 5 feedings the day before making the bread.  Very active starter but doing it at "room temperature"  currently about 76 to 78 F.  I lelf the starter over night at room temperature but did feed just before bed and first thing in the morning.  I was at 80 precent hydration of the starter, all bread flour.


The results were good -- but I have to now try moving to the 4 hour feeds at 85 F and refrigerate over night.  I happen to have a old lab oven (rather small, too small for bread) that was designed to hold temperature to +/- 1 degree F.  I have never tried it at near room temperature but will have to see what it can do.  (I use it in the shop for tempering of tool steels -- mostly around 400 F).  If that does not do what I want I can use a light bulb and a thermostat in an old cooler.  (I have the thermostat somewhere in my junk collection.)


Thanks to everyone for this thread and to all for the great information.


Dave


 

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Yippie,


I actually should thank you for raising that question.  It reminded me to pay attention to every detail when baking breads.  Being sloppy won't let me get my ideal bread. 


Thanks, Enid


Hi Dave, 


I, too was thinking of using a light bulb, a thermometer and a cooler to get the "85F" to build the levain.  All of a sudden, it came to my mind that we do have a transformer inside a kitchen cabinet that we use to operate our coffee machine.  I made a test a couple of days ago - if I had only the transformer on, I'd get that temperature; if the coffee machine was on too, it's way too high.  I'll be on to my next experiment very soon - the coming weekend!!!


Regards, Enid

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Mr. DiMuzio:


Could you please explain why this method is not "appropriate for a sourdough that uses no manufactured yeast" (p.196)?


Does that mean I would not achieve the optimum result if I use this method to make a Pain de Mie with levain exclusively? Thank you.


Yippee


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hi Yippee


I have to say that I wasn't envisioning anyone using a strictly sourdough method to produce a close-crumbed sandwich loaf.  That's because, in my experience, no one ever did.


Pain au Levain and its many derivatives are meant to be a little dense and chewy, so using a significant amount of added yeast there would give you bread, but not traditional pain au levain.  Conversely, pain de mie is meant to be a lot lighter and less chewy, so using an exclusively wild leavener would make bread that isn't really a classic pain de mie anymore.


Since I've been visiting here, though, I've read a lot of postings where the baker doesn't want to use manufactured yeast, but still wants to make breads that were designed to use it, even exclusively.


You can still make very good sandwich bread with an exclusively wild leavener (levain), as long as you understand that it will be a bit different than one leavened mostly by manufactured yeast.  The levain-only version will be more dense, and probably at least a little acidic as well.  You'll need to use somewhat more dough with the levain-only version to get a similar volume when compared to the "yeasted" version, since a levain-only dough doesn't rise as much.


You can also use the intensive mixing method to make your sourdough sandwich bread.  I advised against using that method with sourdough in the book because any sourdough I was encountering was an open-crumbed hearth loaf.  If a close-crumbed sanwich loaf is what you want, then an intensive mix method is entirely appropriate and useful.


You should feel free to experiment and alter any dough recipe you ever find, but also realize that what you come up with will be at least a little different than what the recipe's author envisioned.  Nothing wrong with that -- all that really matters is whether you like the results.


--Dan DiMuzio

Yippee's picture
Yippee


...manufactured yeast...breads that were designed to use it



Mr. DiMuzio:


I realize this, and that's why I have not had the urge to try making a 100% levain sandwich bread until I saw Enid's fluffy and springy bread.  Then I knew even with levain exclusively, the texture I desire can be achieved. However, I hope to duplicate such a loaf with minimal babysitting and eliminate any folds of my dough. With that said, I do want to try a new technique this time: measuring water temperature, which I would normally ignore, just to experiment the 'power' of following precise calculation. 


I'm going to use the dough function of my Zojirushi, which has also helped me to produce very nice yeasted sandwich loaves in the past.  Mr. DiMuzio, if I don't mind the acidic aftertaste in a pain de mie, would you please make a suggestion in procedures which I can utilize the refrigerator to either bulk ferment or proof, or both. Thank you.


Yippee


    

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Even the drier, close-crumbed version of pain au levain that you and Enid seem to want should bulk ferment very easily if you let it go at room temperature until it is perhaps half risen.  That's a guess -- if you find that the dough fails to rise completely overnight, you could go longer at room temp before refrigeration.  Of if it collapses in its container, you could go less time at room temp before refrigerating.


The other two major points of fermentation control -- temperature and hydration -- will also affect things.  I'd recommend a final dough temp (when the mixing and kneading are completed) of around 77 degrees F.  I think the hydration of Jeff's pain de mie is around 60%, but the hydration you use may be different by a point or two, depending on the flour you use and other factors we can't always anticipate.


I'd just divide the dough right out of the refrigerator the next day, trying to cut any portions in long rectangles to make final shaping easier later.  Let the rectangles rest, covered with a floured towel and then plastic, for as long as it takes to make them extensible enough to shape well.  When the dough gets to be about 60 degrees F, I find it can usually be stretched and shaped without tearing, but your results might be different from that.


If you prefer to retard the loaves instead, just pan them as you normally would and allow to proof maybe halfway (again, this is a guess) before refrigerating them.  If they've proofed fully by the next morning, then bake them as soon as you can.  If they are still underproofed, you can pull them out of the 'fridge and allow them to finish at room temperature.


There is no map available to find the most reliable way to do this.  You'll have to try things and see if they work.  If they don't work as you'd hoped, you make logical adjustments (best one at a time) and try again.  I've never even made this bread you want to create.  You'll probably run into a few snafus on the way, but that's how learning and designing things works -- for anybody.


--Dan DiMuzio


 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

for your pointers, Mr. DiMuzio.  I'll give it a try.


Yippee

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Enid:


I finally made it this past weekend.  Please visit my blog to see my first pain de mie. Thanks again for all your help.


Yippee   

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Yippee


Congratulations!!  What could be more satisfying than to create one's own formula/method and yield pleasing results - especially an "encore" from your kids.


Enid

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Enid:


Have you ever made dome-shaped sourdough loaf in your pullman pan(no lid)? If so, would you please share the weight of dough used?  Luckily, my pullman is the same size as yours, so no adjustment needed the first time. Thanks.


Yippee

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Yippie


The photo in my first post on this thread shows my dome-shaped pain de mie and the dough size was illustrated in my answer to your request re that bread's formula.  I also described how I achieved that dome-shape in that post.


Enid

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Oh, I see.  I was using that size for my close-lid loaf since I thought you were making the same type (close-lid) at both times.  Thanks.


Yippee