The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Tastes "Off" - help

johnnyzero's picture

Bread Tastes "Off" - help

I don't know if I did something wrong, or if there's something wrong with my starter.  Can anyone help?


I made my own starter from scratch, and after a couple of weeks of working on it, it is doubling (if not tripling) in less than 12 hrs (between twice daily feedings).  Feeling pretty proud of myself and excited, I used some in a chibatta recipe I've been using with baker's yeast with great success.  I added about a cup of my starter to the poolish on Friday night creating a thick batter consistency (same as I usually do).  It seemed to ferment well, giving lots of loose, spongy bubbles by Saturday morning.  With things looking good (at least how I have come to expect the recipe to go), I continued making the chibatta.  However, after 12 hours of fermenting, the dough never quite doubled (it did increase in size, but not as much as I'm used to with baker's yeast, or as much as I expected based on the performance of the starter).  Undeterred, I proceeded with loafing and baking.  I did get a decent amount of oven spring (althigh, still not giving what I've come to expect with baker's yeast).


In addition to being a little heavier than I'd hoped for, the bread did have a sour taste, but not in a good way.  The best way I can describe it is as tasting "off."  Does anyone have any ideas?  Pitch the starter and try again?  Change the way I'm making the bread?  Anything?

mrfrost's picture

Had you ever had (real) sourdough before? Maybe it turns out that you just don't like sourdough(at this time).

Taste wise, I had the same initial experience as yours. I thought it was pretty good, but had a somewhat funny tatse that had me a little leery about what I was eating. I attributed it to a combination of a new, very young starter(sure to improve with maturation), and probably somewhat of a new taste that I will need to acquire.

I might add that my perceptions were probably influenced somewhat be a close relative that pretty much hated sourdough.

johnnyzero's picture

I'm a long time lover of sourdough (from a good bakery, so I ass-u-me it was real).  My starter is very young - only a couple of weeks old.  Hopefully that's it.  I'm not throwing in the towel yet, just concerned I did something wrong.


Any ideas on why my starter doubles and even triples, but the bread itself performed so poorly in that regard?  The poolish fermented overnight (about 10 hours), and I gave the bread itself a little over 12 hours, but it only raised slightly.


Thanks for your thoughs.

mrfrost's picture

From what I have read, the new starter's ability to actually raise the bread becomes more robust as it matures. If you are relatively new to bread making, that along with improving your technique and procedures; it will all come, in time.

ananda's picture


If your final proof was 12 hours in an ambient temperature, I suggest that is why the bread tastes "off"...that is too long.

It is not easy to make very light ciabatta just with a natural leaven.   If you want to work with really long fermentation systems, you will need to work out a refrigeration technique.

The good thing: your starter is healthy: so it's the final dough stage which is not right.

Best wishes


johnnyzero's picture

Yes the final proof was at ambient temperature.  I was letting the rise of the dough dictate the proof time.  I was basically trying to wait-it-out to try to get it to approach doubling.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I thought you would have baked it Saturday morning.  It just sounded right.  Try next time mixing the cup (which is plenty) of starter in to the entire recipe and shape it in the morning.   (Maybe the acid level in the dough got too high and slowed down the yeasts.)

The other option would be not to add so much starter to the "poolish" use just a tablespoon or nothing at all, add the cup of starter the next day with the fresh flour.   How was the dough color?  Pale?  Did it brown as fast as you expected it?


dennisinponca's picture

Off taste in your sourdough can be caused by your ingredients reacting with the sourdough yeast or it may simply may be a bad yeast, or even from from letting the sourdough get bitter from being too old. 

Try  a very simple bread loaf recipe with very basic ingredients to test your starter.