The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I have a problem... what does good sourdough taste like?

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

I have a problem... what does good sourdough taste like?

I suppose it is rather funny to be making homemade sourdough bread and never having eaten any of it before.  I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be comparing it to.  I was in the San Francisco airport this time last year and saw everyone advertising their sourdough bread and wondered what was so special about it.  I didn't buy any!  What a dummy!

Anyway, my friend knows I'm in full sourdough production at the moment, so today she bought lunch over.  (Oh, she didn't come to bake, we paint together.) She bought a little sourdough bun from a local bakery that is just starting to sell sourdough bread.  I won't buy it because it's nearly $7 a loaf!  I was excited now to be trying what I thought was real sourdough.

Well, I found it to be quite flavourless and stodgy apart from the lovely olives in it.  It had a bit of a tang to it and a little bit of a crunchy crust, but it made rather a hard task to eat it! I was surprised by the density and heaviness of the bought bun.  

In fact, even though my sourdough is far from perfect in these early stages of learning, I far prefer what I'm making which seems moist, slightly chewy, less dense, nuttyish, slightly sourish, with a crust to die for.  And I'm a beginner!!! 

Soooooooooooo everyone, what should good sourdough taste like?  And is it supposed to be a bit heavier and dense than regular bread?


OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Your sourdough should taste good to you.  Particular, popular sourdough breads have some common characteristics, but there are no standards beyond what you want, and your degree of satisfaction with what you are getting.

To be more specific, but probably not much more help:  I prefer my sourdough bread to be less sour.  My wife would prefer it to be more sour than I.  I want it to have a soft and creamy crumb.  My wife prefers the dense, chewy (but not rubbery) texture.  We agree that the crust is ideal when it is thin and crispy, and crackles shards of crust flakes over the counter top when slicing into it.  Based on all of this it sounds like I would find your sourdough to be excellent.  My wife might think it less than perfect.  I suspect we would both agree with you about the bread you had from the local bakery. 

Experiment to make your bread more sour.  There are a lot of good discussions of how to go about that here on TFL.  As you evaluate the results you will recognize "more sour" when you taste it.  You will also know right away if that tastes better or worse to you.  It will be a fun exploration for you, educational, and you will also begin to learn what "good sourdough" tastes like to you.  You are the baker.  You are the first one you must please, because you are not going to be a happy baker turning out loaves you think taste bad, but doing it because someone else says it is "the right way to do it".

I'm sure you will get plenty of other opinions here.  Pick one or two you like and see where they take you.  Best of luck with it, and bake happy!


arlo's picture

I agree with OldWoodenSpoon. There are many variations and tastes of sourdough. Some light, with a full wheaty flavor. Some very tangy and creamy. I say start with a recipe that has a description of what you are trying to achieve in the final loaf. That might be a good way to start to see if you are handling time, temperature and the dough correctly.


Chausiubao's picture

Anything you can make at home (unless you've made some sort of large glaring mistakes) can easily be better then a store bought product. In even small artisan bakeries bakers are fighting and struggling to pump out product and are not able to take the time to care for each and every loaf.

In addition, your loaf is fresh! Absolutely fresh, as you know when it was made and most likely can't wait to crack it open.

This is not to say that there aren't good high quality products being prepared in commercial bakeries, but with time to care for each loaf and the proof of freshness, what you produce could very well be better.


ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

Well thanks everyone.  OldWoodenSpoon, already my bread tastes better, and my husband loves it, so I suppose if it tasted like crap, we would sure know it.  haha.  So now there will be some experimentation with sourness and an exhaustive supply of recipes to try.  So exciting!  Arlo, that is an excellent idea about reading a description and then tying to match it.  And yes, Chausiubao, I think our bakery is just tying to do something different to make an extra dollar, but not paying the attention to it that it needs.  The bun that we tried was all white flour which I wouldn't normally eat anyway, so I may be being overyly critical.