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very sour bread made from not so sour starter

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varda's picture
varda

very sour bread made from not so sour starter

I have been maintaining a whole wheat starter for a few months mostly making variations on Hamelman's Pain Au Levain.   While these breads are very nice, they tend to be almost imperceptibly sour.   A few days ago I took my trusty starter and went off in a different direction with it.   I did an overnight counter ferment with 550 grams total of equal parts white, wheat, and rye flour, 350g water, and 250g starter.   The next day the dough was very soupy and not extendable, but  I managed a rough boule shape.   While the dough expanded a lot in the oven it didn't get taller, so the final bread was a very wide and flat (less than 2 inches tall) pancake.   I was ready to toss it based on looks alone, but when I tasted it I was surprised to find it was extremely and very pleasantly sour.   The crumb was pretty nice for over 50% whole grain, and the taste was absolutely addictive.   I wondered what had got into my starter, so the next day I used the same starter for a Hamelman whole wheat pain au levain.   But while I got back reasonably tasty and pretty loaves, it was back to the mildest of sourness again.  I'm not quite sure what I did to get such a sour bread, and I would like to do it again with a nicer shaped bread.   Was it the overnight counter ferment?   Was it the very high percentage of starter?   I'm mystified.   Any help would be appreciated. -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

I'd say it was the 33% ratio of rye flour that likely bumped up the sour flavour in the 1st loaf in combination with the high starter percentage. In Hamelman's formula for whole wheat pain au levain it calls for only a total of 5% rye. Rye and starter get along well together, creating a stronger sour flavour much quicker than with a white, or to a degree, whole wheat flour feeding.


Franko

Lucifer's picture
Lucifer

More liquid and rye tend to produce more acidic dough / starter.


Make wet dough at 27C, put in the fridge at about 7C until doubled (couple of days), then few more hrs of fermenting at about 30C. Do not overproof. Try steam to add more puff to it. Better use a form to give it some shape.

varda's picture
varda

Ok.  Very interesting comments.   This gives me a clue or two about how to proceed.   Use a form when it comes out of the fridge? 

Lucifer's picture
Lucifer

I take the dough out of the mixer, roll it in a bit of oil and drop it in the container. This is the last time I actuyally touch the dough. Can't be bothered doing the folds and stretches.

Franko's picture
Franko

Using a form is good if your looking for a certain shape or flour pattern on your loaf but they won't help your loaf keep it's shape once it goes into the oven. That depends entirely on how well the dough has been developed during mixing, and the subsequent stretch and folds that are needed (depending on the dough) during it's bulk fermentation. Developing the dough properly for it's respective formula is where the so called 'art' comes in . If you have a well developed dough you should be able to bake it directly on a baking stone,.. or a sheet pan for that matter, and have a very good looking loaf.


Franko


 


 


 

Lucifer's picture
Lucifer

Franko, are you saying baking in a form is no good?


It does have disadvantages, I agree. Specially when I have to carve out a stuck loaf.


On the other hand doing away with fold and stretch saves a lot of hassle.


What am I missing?

Franko's picture
Franko

 Lucifer ,


No, I'm not saying baking in a form is no good, I'm saying that baking in a form will not save you the hassle of properly developing the dough in the first place, before it goes into the form. The stretch and folds are not only key in developing the the structure of the dough they are also integral to maintaining an even temperature during fermentation. I can see where you might think the form would help if we were talking about a high ratio (50+%) rye bread but that's not the case here.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would if the dough seemed too slack.  With half the dough non-rye, the loaf should keep it's shape if rising in a banneton form (floured form to hold dough during last rise, then dough is gently removed and placed immediately into a hot oven) or the dough can be shaped ever so gently and placed into an oiled bread tin or as in my case, a sauce pan or small fry pan to hold up the dough.  (Remove handles and stack one over the other to make a steaming chamber.) 

varda's picture
varda

In my case I actually did the second rise in a bowl (not a banneton and possibly too big to do much good) but it was hopeless.   Maybe if I rise in the refrigerator instead of on the counter the starter won't get so spent that it makes everything flop.   But I'm curious about something.   You bake in a sauce pan?   Do you have a picture?  If I take Lucifer's advice and rise in the refrigerator for a couple of days instead of overnight on the counter, will I get the very tart sour taste or was the price for that type of sour the floppy loaf?   Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is good, even a colander draped in a floured cloth.   Here's a picture of the sauce pans: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15736/mini039s-favorite-rye-ratio


and I use this contraption of two saucepans often (at this very moment) for a hot or cold oven.  Even though I use more rye flour in my bread, the set up works well.   With my wet rye, I let it rise in the sauce pan as a loaf pan.   If you have an open steaming pan (for steam) an open fry pan works well too to lift up the loaf before it can spread out sideways.  I also bake in two woks with larger loaves.  I find it easier to trap in the steam than to steam up my oven.  


Mini


 

varda's picture
varda

Very cool and I like the shape of the loaf.   Maybe I can just try your formula instead of hacking around so much.   Discovering things from experimentation can be time consuming, although fun and educational.   Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


"If I take Lucifer's advice and rise in the refrigerator for a couple of days instead of overnight on the counter, will I get the very tart sour taste or was the price for that type of sour the floppy loaf?"



Rye speeds up the fermenting process, which also in turn breaks down the dough.  You didn't mention using bread flour so I'm guessing you used normal AP.  AP would deteriorate quicker and let the loaf run sideways, bread flour would do better when compared.  As sourdoughs get wetter as they ferment, you might want the dough just a tad dryer before a very long fermentation.  The fermentation is giving you the sour, the rye is speeding up a more lengthy process.   It would take longer to get the sour taste if rye was not included in the dough. 


There are ways to get sour without too long a ferment (Too long leads to frisbees.)


1) One way to get more sour taste would be to switch your starter onto some rye flour to feed the night before using it. 


2) And yet another is to feed the starter (either one) with a crumbled up slice of sourdough bread and a little flour and water and use as the starter in the next loaf.


Letting the rye dough sit for several days to retard for sour, might work with bread flour but one does take a risk that with added rye, it will ferment too far and turn into one big batch of starter.  Which is fine if you want to crank out lots of SD bread.  Watch out for glossy spots on the dough, signs of rapid enzyme activity (easy to spot on a matt satiny surface.)  This indicates the dough should not be retarded but baked soon before structural integrity is lost.


Mini

varda's picture
varda

Ok.   Then you all have explained everything.   By having a long ferment time in a warm kitchen with both a large percentage of rye flour and a large percentage of starter (and incidentally King Arthur Bread Flour rather than AP) I had already turned my entire dough into starter by the morning and despite the bowl and the bread flour, frisbee it was although very tasty sour frisbee.   So I need to mitigate at least some of the above if I don't want a frisbee.   Lower percentage of starter, shorter or colder ferment, less rye, perhaps less water.   Thanks so much! -Varda

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And you sound like you've gotten hooked onto rye...  rye not?


Lovely tasting stuff no matter what it looks like.  :)