The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flavor is elusive

robadar's picture
robadar

Flavor is elusive

I've been making sourdough for years, have used many different starters, followed many recipes, experimented with almost every baking variable one can think of, yet the flavor I seeks still eludes me. Locally, (Bay Area, home to excellent sourdoughs) I can buy several delicious sourdough loaves. The bread I bake does not compare in flavor. By comparison it is floury or insipid. I've tried different flours, baking times, starters, rising times, hydrations, you name it, but while crust, texture, and crumb will vary, flavor never does, unless I use additives, such as malt, but this is contrived or faux flavor. I want a deep flavored bread made with starter, flour, water, and salt. Any thoughts?

RB

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Have you tried retarding your dough? It really helps with the flavor. Are you using only white flour? Adding a small amount of whole wheat or rye flour will enhance the flavor, also (I like to use 1/2 cup of white whole wheat in my white breads).

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

How long does your bread proof for? I find this, more than any other issue, affects flavour greatly. I use a stiff starter in the fridge, then when making bread, I feed a small amount - typically 30 grams starter, add 40 grams flour and 40 grams water. This is allowed to stand, covered,for about 12 hours, then I add 100 grams water and 100 grams flour, mix well and leave for about 12 hours. 
Then use this to make the dough - 1000 grams in total, including this active starter which now weighs 300 grams. This is allowed to proof for around 8 hours - if the weather is too warm, it proofs in the fridge. Then it is shaped and this is either baked when doubled in size, or for a stronger flavour still, it is covered and put in the fridge overnight immediately after shaping. Bring to room temperature, allow to rise and bake.
I find the longer the proofing  time, the fuller the flavour.
Conversely, when I have one particular friend visiting who likes bland bread, I speed the entire process up so it takes about 14 hours in total and the bread, though well risen and with a good crumb, tastes really mild. 
Andrew

robadar's picture
robadar

While I have experimented considerably with fermenting and proofing times I have not gone so far as 12 hours for starter and 8 hours for bulk fermentation.   In the case of the starter, it would begin to collapse after eight hours since this is well beyond its optimum active stage.  As for the dough,   I've always  assumed that over- extended dough fermentation  will exhaust the dough so as  not to be able to adequately  raise the shaped loaf.   Do you have a slow starter?

robadar's picture
robadar

Kevroy,

What are the times for bulk fermentation, proofing, and tempering?   Is the crumb of your bread tight or does it had big and irregular holes?

RB