The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourness

bobku's picture
bobku

Sourness

I know there are plenty of post on this topic, I have read most of them. and I know this subject has been beaten to death. However, has anyone successfully changed the effect their starter has on the sourness of their dough. My starter is about 8 months old, I have tried many things to my starter and or dough hoping I could produce a more sour dough , changing my starter to 50% hydration, long proofing, or fermenting overnight of dough, feeding my starter less for more sourness, as well as just making sure its healthy and well fed, adding rye flour to starter, keeping on counter feeding couple times a day, keeping in refrigerator feeding less, mixing a weak fed starter for sour with a well fed starter for rise . Nothing really seems to noticeably change the sourness of my dough. I am thinking of ordering a very sour starter from a reliable source freeze some and then if it starts to eventually loose it's sour taste and change to my local area flavor , as some people says it does  I can revive some from frozen again and always have a real sour flavor. I would rather be able to morph my starter in one that will produce a real sour flavor. Just want to know if anyone has successfully made a real sour flavored dough from their starter which usually produces a great bread but not sour. The only thing I haven't really tried is a very long retard more than 24 hours. Retarding overnight doesn't seem to help. When I actually taste and smell  the starter it has what I'm looking for It's just amazing to me that I can't get that flavor into the dough. I know all to well that a starter that smells and taste really sour doesn't necessarily produce a sour dough. I know I can add a huge amount of starter mostly for it's flavor but is that really my only option If I want to use my starter.

G-man's picture
G-man

Feed it less often and give it a longer pre-ferment period, over 24 hours. The longer it is in that pre-ferment stage, the longer the bacteria have to get down to business.

bobku's picture
bobku

Feed starter less and preferment the dough mixture over 24 hours  is that preferment in or out of fridge?

 

G-man's picture
G-man

I'd probably do it in the fridge.

bobku's picture
bobku

I just now made preferment took about 1/2 flour and 1/2 starter from my standard recipe will let fermentat least 24 hr. then mix with other ingredients. Thanks for giving me another chance will let you knowhow it turns out.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Bobku,

There is more BS around on this subject than there is provable truth by a wide margin.  This is not to say that there is no truth, it is just mixed in with much misinformation and disinformation.  And until you figure it out, you can't tell one from the other. 

There is sufficient scientific data to discourage you from freezing starter - you cannot "keep" a sample in the freezer in case you mistreat it's progeny. 

What you smell as sour is acetic acid, but what you taste as sour is mostly lactic acid. 

If you have a starter that is made up of the LAB and yeast that Ganzle et al have characterized, then you can use their results to help you converge to success. That is what most of the papers on sourdough are based on.

If your starter is not in that family, then as they say "your results may vary".  Conclusions drawn from incomparable data may valid in their own context but are not extensions of prior work.

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I made a decent sourdough white bread today with an 18 hour rise then 2 stretch and folds and a final rise in a 1 pound banneton and final bake in a 500-degree oven in a clay cloche then uncovered at 450-degrees.  The sourness came from the lactic acid in the fermentation and starter and from a generous shake of sour salt.  

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

bobku wrote:

"The only thing I haven't really tried is a very long retard more than 24 hours. "

Retarding dough in the fridge will not help you increase sourness, in fact it will hinder you. I have experimented with sourdough kept at  cold temperatures starting at many different times in the dough making process with all results pointing to the longer time spent in the fridge, the milder the taste, all the way to a completely bland tasting bread.

You need two things in order for any starter culture to produce flavor, warmth and food, warmth for the organisms that produce flavor to activate, and food that those organisms can "process" into flavor. Experiment with temperature and feedings (frequency and different flours, addition of some wholegrain will add some octane to the fuel) and you can coax flavor from a culture even if it is notorious for being bland.  

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

What is the temperature of the refrigerator where you retard your dough?

What is the size and shape of the container in which the dough retards?

What is the origin of the starter you are using?

How much of the total flour weight is rye or whole wheat?

What is in your dough besides flour, starter, water, and salt?

G-man's picture
G-man

My experience has been completely different, and most of the posts on this subject on these forums would also seem to disagree with your statement that retarding in the fridge will not increase sourness. My bread is definitely more sour the longer it retards in the refrigerator. Keeping your dough warm will encourage the yeast to consume more food more quickly, and yeast doesn't produce the sour flavor.

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

If it is truly from experience that you find that you get more sourness from retarding, then my hat is off to you G-man. I tend to believe more in what I experience in my own kitchen, even if  it is the opposite of what you (and some of these forums) describe. I have been baking bread exclusively with sourdough for enough years now to have a bit of kitchen wisdom that sometimes does not agree with what the majority choose to believe. This can get me in trouble with the villagers from time to time, but it is not my fault if their findings are false.  I started retarding my dough early on, and one of the main reasons was to reduce sourness in breads containing percentages of whole wheat. Yes warm dough does exactly as you describe, encourage the yeast (but not only yeast) to consume more food more quickly, which tends to make them produce waste (flavor) more quickly also, and while I like  sourness, not everybody finds it as appealing as it can be to enthusiasts. I have always produced less sour breads through retarding. These are my conclusions from my own expereience regardless of whatever information is out there, and neither am I alone in finding that retarding sourdough tends to result in a less sour, somewhat fresher tasting bread than full warm bulk rising, there have been many past threads on this at rec.food sourdough.

So I retard my dough to reduce sourness, and I also very much like the resulting thicker chewier crust with all the many little blisters caused by dough degradation from the higher acidity build up which does occur in retarding, though it does not result in more sourness. Sorry, these are my findings, and I hope they do not offend anybody.

 

G-man's picture
G-man

I don't think anyone is taking offense at your findings. The only problem I had, a minor one at that, was that your post seemed like a blanket statement that there was only one way to do it. That's never really the right way to go about things when you're discussing sourdough, which has so many variables.

Yes, the science agrees with you on the specific subject of lactic acid production, warmth does encourage it. If that's what you're going for that's the perfect way to go. Bobku's question, though, was about increasing sourness. Acetic acid has a stronger/harsher sour flavor than lactic acid, so he'll want to encourage acetic acid production. To do that, colder temperatures are desired.

Your mileage, as always, will vary, because you have a unique culture.

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

Stll, at least with all the different starters I have used over the years, it seems that fridge temp ( mine right now its at 38 F) is too cold for developing sourness and just lets a nice mild flavor develop, but long cool rises when I can find a suitable place in the house can coax sour, so I still think the fridge is the wrong way unless you keep a warmer temp in there than I do.

bobku's picture
bobku

I don't understand why retarding the dough in the fridge makes it more mild, which also has been my experience so far. Yet the starter that I keep in the fridge taste very sour.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Hi bobku,

Retarding dough at lower temperature alows enzymes naturally occuring in the flour to break down carbohydrates into complex sugars. It sweetens the dough making it taste more mild but aids in the overall complexity of the taste sensation.  

SF sourdough is usually made beginning with a long ferment poolish [~24 hours]. The higher the temperature the more sour the poolish. Some resort to cheating a bit and add a bit of rye flour to the poolish ferment to increase the degree of sourness [it works].  The amount of poolish incorporated into the dough also contributes to the amount of sourness of the resulting bread. If you're thinking this isn't easy, you're right. Keep everything constant except the temperature, length and amount of poolish incorporated into the dough.  There are several SFSD recipes floating about that yield a near semblance of the original.

Bien Cordialement, Wild Yeast 

bobku's picture
bobku

I have found in my limited experience that retarding in the fridge has made my bread less sour . I am now making wich I hope is my first "sour" sourdough bread. I now think think most of the sour flavor will come from from the poolish. I have taken my basic recipe and I am making a poolish using my starter and as much water and flour as I can from my recipe keeping hydration the same as my starter.  Going to let that ferment about 24 hours mix with rest of flour and a little more starter then bulk ferment shape and proof. I might proof in the fridge, I like the blistering that a cold proof does. and I think my poolish will be very sour and may have to be toned down a bit, I'm going to taste it right after fermenting. and  Any thoughts?

 

bobku's picture
bobku

what is the best temperature to retard at, I have a small fridge that I could use for this

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

38 degrees Fahrenheit - 3.3 degrees Celsius.

Wild-Yeast

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Original SFSD isn't retarded. Remember that refrigeration is a relatively recent innovation. 

I think your method is almost there. You may want to "almost" finish the proofing of the finished formed loaves leaving about 1 to 1.5 hours of the final proofing period at room temperature for the retarded proofing period [~12 hours]. The low temperature greatly slows the leavening action while the enzymes work.  The loaves [after retard and scored] can be directly transferred to a 500 degree Fahrenheit oven with stone. Cover the bread with a water spritzed cloche cover. Be sure to place a cotton towel over the oven window protecting it from being chilled shocked by any water droplets that may fall on the oven door while it's open. The cloche maintains a steam environment important for developing the crust. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes under the cloche before removing it. Finish the bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 14 to 18 minutes.

Wild-Yeast 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Low temperatures = low activity =  more acetic acid production. Your probably tasting acetic acid in the dough which then gets baked off. Acetic acid will enhance aromas contributing a sour smell but not taste. If you want sour taste in your bread then keep the dough warm and wet for long periods of time.

bobku's picture
bobku

So a poolish should work then for more sour flavor correct? What then is actually achieved by cold retarding of dough.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A poolish inoculated with sourdough you mean... then, theoretically yes. But there are other factors to consider. The most important I would say is the size of feeding. I would use a minuscule amount of sourdough to a large amount of flour. 

The way I see it is: 
(my theory. I have no citation for this) ...

At room temperature:

A sourdough starter that triples in 4hrs will produce a non-sour bread. (this is my regular starter - Essentially Italian sourdough, biga acida, lievito naturale)

A sourdough starter that triples in 8hrs will be mildly sour

A sourdough starter that triples  in 12hrs will be more sour

and so on.

I've yet to test this but given the vast amount of articles I've read this should be accurate.

Retardation allows you to extend the rise and produce more flavour.

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Low temperatures = low activity =  more acetic acid production

If you want sour taste in your bread then keep the dough warm and wet for long periods of time.

Do you have a credible reference or a testable theory that would explain why either of these statements should be true?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Thanks for the links. I think I understand what she is talking about, but after going back and re-reading Debbie's piece (about a dozen times)  and rereading my prior post over there (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10856/pineapple-juice-solution-part-1#comment-181564) I kept coming back to the question of the boundary between warm and cool.

So long as "cool" is below 24°C then the argument about tendencies is reasonable, but the difference between high and low hydration is not so well defined, nor is it backed up with data.

The statement (in her post a your first link) that "... under wetter, warmer conditions, where sugars are metabolized more rapidly, the tendency is toward lactic acid and alcohol production in obligate heterofermenters" has no reference and I am not yet aware of any papers that make this point with data (there may be lots of data, I just haven't been able to find it).

The Larraburu process is one that runs warm (4 hr proof at 105°F ) but not especially wet (~65% hydration)

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17730/divine-inspirationfor-me-it-way-larraburu-brother039s-sf-sd-what-was-it-you#comment-176197

and doesn't produce an especially sour loaf.  Dmsnyder has done some tweaking to try to make it more sour:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/26599/san-francisco-sourdough-bread-using-larraburu-bros-formula

but the result is still not remarkably so.

There are finite limits on how warm and how wet you can run a process and still get "bread" out the other end. None of the processes that I have tried that go to that end of the spectrum has produced a sour loaf of satisfactory bread, but that could just as well be my lack of technique as bad chemistry. Long and cool has proven to be a quite reliable and tasty path.

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I found references to two technical papers that are supposed to contain evidence that supports the statement that "increasing dough yields leads to faster acidification of doughs" though I have not yet been able to read either one.

Gianotti, A., L. Vannini, M. Gobbetti, A. Corsetti, F. Gardini, and M. E. Guerzoni. 1997. Modelling of the activity of selected starters during sourdough fermentation. Food Microbiol. 14:327–337.

and

Rocken, W., M. Rick, and M. Reinkemeier. 1992. Controlled production of acetic acid in wheat sour doughs. Z. Lebensm.-Unters.-Forsch. 195:259–263

 

placebo's picture
placebo

The resulting long time needed for the bulk fermentation will cause the dough to become more sour. Mike Avery's Black Canyon Sourdough uses this idea. You only use 1/4 cup of starter, and the fermentation time is 12 to 15 hours.

The other thing you can try is fermenting the dough at a relatively low temperature, but not necessarily throwing it in the fridge. Recently, I accidentally produced a relatively sour loaf when the temperature in the house dropped to around 67 F during the first fermentation. Normally, with the recipe I follow, the first fermentation takes about 4.5 hours; this time, it was double that. (In fact, it probably should have been longer. Given the feel of the dough, I'd normally have given it another hour, but I decided it felt close enough to being ready because I wanted to go to sleep.) As I expected, the loaves had a pronounced sourness that wasn't typical of this recipe.

bobku's picture
bobku

Thank you for all the responses, I guess I'll just have to keep experimenting. The more questions I ask the more confused I get. We have gone from yes retard in fridge to don't or bread will taste bland. I know this is more of an art than science and there are plenty of variables, but everyone seems to be all over the place from books that I read and from post here from very knowledgeable people. Just looking for some guidelines. I'll have to rely on my trial and error along with everyone's advice.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Baking bread is not art as much as it is science.  Art requires no explanation; science does.  The problem is that until you understand it, you can't tell one from the other.

So read the technical literature and spend the time to understand it.  Ask those giving advice for the technical data that backs up their opinion, either hard data or published papers, then analyse it on your own to see if you reach the same conclusion. If you believe all that you read here or elsewhere you will just get more confused.

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I have been making sourdough breads since 1968 and I only have gotten a really nice sourdough bread when I augmented the sour flavor with about 1/4 tsp of sour salt to a loaf made with 15 ounces of flour and 1/4 cup of good live starter and an 18 hour fermentation at 71-degrees and little salt, 1 tsp.  I don't tell people I use the sour salt and everyone loves the "authentic" sourdough bread, it's just like the real thing.  So, I'm not a purest.  I have been making beautiful nice tasting white breads with a sourdough starter for years but NEVER until now have I gotten a sour tinge to the flavor notes of the bread.  I'm going to keep doing it and getting complements.

bobku's picture
bobku

That's a little discouraging. I think I am going to try experimenting with my basic recipe which is flour, salt and water and try various methods I heard here. Its amazing how many different opinions there are on this subject some totally oppisite from each other. Still, would like to hear from someone who has made really sour dough from there starter which would have normally produced great bread but not sour. I have herd all the advice on how to make bread really sour, just would like to hear first hand advice from someone who has had the same problem and solved it using just those ingredients. All the things I've herd to make bread sour probably work to some degree but looking for someone who can say I did this, this and this and now my bread went from great bread to great sourdough bread. beginning to look like the only solution is to order a sourdough starter from somewhere else

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Make the three breads described by Hamelman on pg 153 (Vermont Sourdough), pg 154 (Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat) and pg 156 (Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain). Run two sets of experiments (probably repeating each one twice), first using his room temp final fermentation for 2- 2.5 hr; then employing the longest of his recommended retardation schedules (18 hrs @ 42°F), being rigorous about temperature. This will take some time, and you will probably want to label and freeze a couple of slices from each so that after you are done you can thaw them all and do a side-by-side comparison.  I think you will find that the longer retardation at the lower temperature using more whole grain flour will get closer to your desired end point.

Report back with your results and conclusions.

jcking's picture
jcking

One week last summer, I baked through Jeffrey's whole Vermont Sourdough series. Six in all---all three formulas, both proofed at room temp, and retarded overnight. Each day, after the breads were baked and cooled, I wrapped and froze one loaf from each batch. I thawed them for a July 4th get-together and we had an informal tasting. Guess what---the one with 15% rye was more sour than the one with 10%. The ones retarded were more sour than their room temperature-proofed counterparts, and the one with 10% whole rye was more sour than the one with 10% whole wheat. All of these (made with a true liquid culture) were more sour than the basic Pain au Levain, made with 5% medium rye and true firm culture. Try it for yourself, paying close attention to how these formulas differ from one another.

Debbie Wink, BBGA Yahoo Group, 2/4/11

Just remember that the objective is to increase the ratio of LAB:yeast, not necessarily to try and get your starter as sour as it can be. The mother starter is mainly about growing the organisms and building a strong population; the preferment(s) and dough are where you put them to work. What is good for making sour bread isn't necessarily what's good for the long term survival of the organisms that make the bread sour. You have to separate the processes if you want to stay out of that catch-22.

Debbie Wink, SHB, BBGA Yahoo Group, 5/9/11

Above are quotes from D. Wink on the Bread Bakers Guild of America forum.

Jim

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I bought San Francisco sourdough starter from Breadtopia and it was wonderful, but, then it changed to my Minneapolis, Minnesota sourdough starter and it made great bread, just not really sour.  Doing another one today.  Will let you all know how it turns out.  Just retired yesterday and will be baking breads often.  I'll see what I can do with flour, salt and starter....and time.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've gotten very sour loaves.  I don't know the science behind it but the rise took longer and the dough was a lot more sour.  

bobku's picture
bobku

I keep my starter at 100 hydration, my starter itself taste sour more the way I think my final bread should taste. If I take the maximum amount of flour and water that I can from my bread recipe keeping it at 100% hydration and add a small amount of starter deducting that from final recipe. Let that double in size fermenting and even tasting it to make sure it taste sour. Then add rest of flour and salt and maybe some more starter, again deducting from final ingredients, let rise again shouldn't that work. Would that be a preferment? or would I just using a large amount of starter, what's the difference anyway? Isn't a preferment and a large amount of starter really the same?

mudman's picture
mudman

I use white bread flour in my starter and it creates a very mild bread.  When I add and build up the starter with whole wheat it is a medium sour, and when I use rye it is usually very sour.  I have not been able to get a very sour bread with my white starter regardless of fermentation times or retarding.

bobku's picture
bobku

From other things I've read I think I should be manipulating my starter more ( temp, hydration, feeding, type of flour ) to optain more sourness in my dough. Everything else I've tried for the most part has involved manipulating the dough ( time temperature) after it's been mixed   Any Suggestions?

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

Sorry about being so redundent, but, I cannot get my sourdough breads to be sour without 2 shakes of sour salt into the flour.  My breads are wonderful.  I have a nice sour starter and I do an 18 hour fermentation and a 90 min. final rise but, without the sour salt the breads are just very very nice artisian breads, not sour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Stuart, it is just too easy!  Takes all the "fun" out of manipulating starters!  

A question out of curiosity, how do you maintain your non-sour  sourdough starter?  What ratios and at what temperatures?  

This is valuable information for those of us that want your type of starter.   

Mini

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

My starter is so sour and strong that you can't sniff the glass flip top jar without burning your nostrils.  I feed it every other day by pouring it out so there is only one cup left in the jar.  I add one cup APF and 2/3 spring water and mix well.  It is very alive and doubles by the next morning, probably before but I don't watch it.  The next day I again pour it out and do it again.  It gets real sour and alcoholic if I let it sit for 3 days.  I don't always pour it out, there are plenty of people at where I work who are waiting for the discards.  Although the starter is real sour, the final bread isn't unless I fortify it.  I'm used to San Francisco sourdough.  I lived in Calif. for 2 years in the late 60's and went to one of the big sourdough bakeries to learn how to make the bread.  I could never really duplicate their product, but, I'm getting closer and it only has taken me 44 years.  I keep thinking, "maybe the next try will be "THE ONE".  Sort of like fishing, "with the next cast I'll catch THE BIG ONE".  I fish too.  Not cought the big one yet.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Stuart, as I see it.  Your starter is about 253% hydration  (I'm guessing feeds of 1/2 cup being 63g of flour and water at 159g) and well maintained.  :)  Thank you for your response.

I'm beginning to loose track of discussions here at TFL about sour but from what I can gather a non-sour tasting sourdough culture is the result of underfeeding the bacteria that are responsible for the sour taste.  

The yeast numbers are fine, but the bacteria count is low.  The starter has a very low pH because of it's advanced fermented stage.  When fed, it is just fed enough to keep the yeasts going but not enough to increase the numbers of bacteria.  So it remains more of a yeast starter than one which has perhaps a strong partnership with lactobacilli (LAB.)  This is good information to know.  How to maintain a wet starter for sweet doughs or when sour taste is not desired is a valuable tool.  I have seen many very old recipes for yeast that seem to be based on these concepts of maintaining a very ripe fermented yeast culture.  Yes, with a low amount of alcohol to burn the nose, and wondered how they worked and were maintained over a longer period of time.   I have never kept one myself.  I don't bake often enough to maintain one. 

However... I have fiddled with my LAB and yeast counts in my starter culture/starter builds  to find a healthy middle ground between the sour and the yeast action that meets my bread baking requirements.

It seems to me that a small portion of this starter could be separated (a discard) and then fed only flour to stiffen to firm dough and left alone to ferment.  Being careful to feed enough flour (raise the pH) to stimulate bacterial growth.  As bacteria is rather fast to move in, it shouldn't take too many refreshments of a small portion (discarding an reducing with every feed) to get a a starter with a higher LAB count.   Successive refreshments would include equal weight amounts of flour and water (or a thicker starter of 100% hydration.)  Temperatures for encouraging the bacterial growth should also be applied.  First cool perhaps, then warmer; settling in on a routine that supports a healthy 100% hydration starter.  A feed ratio that has equal or more flour (weight) than the starter being fed.  Then when used, the resulting dough might be more sour tasting because it contains by-products from the increased lactobacilli happily chomping away in the culture.    

Of course it is much easier to maintain one sourdough culture and add citric acid as desired.  I have some citric acid in my cupboard and tasted a little of it.  Not quite the sour I'm looking for in my bread but heck... there are indeed many kinds of sour flavours and many ways to look for them.

Mini Oven

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

@Mini -

In general I agree with you, but perhaps there is an easier way to get to the end point.

The problem is divided into two parts:

1. Getting to and maintaining a healthy 100% hydration starter (note that Hamelman does not use a 100% starter)

2. Using that starter to make a sour loaf of bread

 Part 1 is relatively easy, even with a very acid (old, underfed) starter that still has some viable yeast and LAB in the mix. Feed it in a ratio of 1:5:5 at room temperature every 12 hrs or so (it should double in that time).  Irrespective of the initial hydration this will get the post-refresh pH above 4.5 and will converge to a hydration of 100%.  I like a 100% starter for the pragmatic reason that I can always calculate how much flour is in the starter by taking half of the starter weight - at any other hydration I have to go to the calculator.

Part 2 is more difficult, but there are many examples of success. The one I like is Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough (with 10% rye, with 10% whole wheat, or with 15% rye), retarded for up to 18 hrs at 42°F.   In this formulation only about 5% of the flour is in the levain, there is sufficient whole grain flour to buffer the pH so that the LAB produce more acid before going dormant (if they ever do), and a long cool retard at a temperature where the relative growth rate of the LAB is well above that of the yeast.  The reason this is difficult is that most people don't have a retarder that will maintain a 42°F temperature - the precision is not absolutely required, but on average it should be about that temp - and you always have to make a judgement call on when the dough is ready to bake which will depend on what the temperature really was.  In a conventional refrigerator it will take at least a couple of hours to get the dough temperature down below 50°F, and you should not keep food above 40°F so you are sort of forced to have a separate refrigerator with a good control system (preferably digital) that you can use as a retarder.  Many who try this recipe will produce a mild bread and think it would never work when they actually dropped the temperature too low to achieve the effect in the time they were willing to spend. Hamelman points out that you can achieve the same result with a 50°F retard temperature for up to 8 hrs, but my experience is that longer, cooler makes for more sour (up to a point).

 

 

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

Looks to me like Doc's latest science lesson proves out what I have been finding for years in my kitchen, retarding in the fridge (the same one that I keep my food in at 38°F) produces a milder tasting bread. My favorite bread and the one I can be found typically baking is (basically) one of Hamelman's Vermont variations, and retarding in my fridge ALWAYS produces a milder bread than not retarding. Finally, science agrees with me...

bobku's picture
bobku

Made my basic sourdough bread again, chasing the elusive sour taste. Tried retarding overnight in 50 degree refrigerator had a scheduling problem and dough was left for about 18-19 hours. Way over proofed, tried to salvage by degassing reshaping and proofing again for couple of hours then baked normally, bread came out as I suspected over proofed but not terrible however,  after all that time still NO SOUR FLAVOR. I m beginning to believe as other posters have sugessted that retarding in the refrigerator is giving me the opposite effect. Next I am going to try it with no refrigeration. Cannot understand how I can take a healthy sour tasting starter that has been left on counter feeding twice a day tasting the starter itself which always taste very sour. Make my dough which is just essentially feeding the starter again and end up with NO SOUR FLAVOR. The only difference in feeding my starter and making my dough is the refrigeration. Bread comes out great in every other way, I have the slashing down pat, crust, crumb ,color,look great. WHERE IS MY DAMN SOUR FLAVOR.

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

Bob, I hope this is a secondary refrigerator, thats an awful warm fridge to keep your other food  in. I would have thought that the higher retarding temp would have brought you at least some flavor, at least more than I get from my colder fridge. If you have not baked without retarding in awhile, I have little doubt that you will find you end up with a more flavorful bread when allowed to go through it's full cycle in a warmer environment. You say that you taste your starter which you keep on the counter and it is sour? Try refreshing and storing some of that starter in the fridge for awhile and see how different it tastes as a test.

bobku's picture
bobku

Yes that's a secondary refrigerator . Its a very small fridge I tested it and was able to keep temp at 50 degrees thought that would help my sourdough, I would think that a sour starter should taste fairly sour which mine does, and it rises fine how sour does a starter usually taste that produces a sour loaf.

asfolks's picture
asfolks

I have been searching for that same elusive sour flavor for about a year. I have tweaked and re-tweaked probably 20 different formulas before finding one that works for me. I have come to believe that different starters produce different results when it comes to producing a sour flavor. I don't remember the exact thread where I stumbled on this formula, but it was a discussion between ehanner, dmsnyder and others. The formula and method is extremely simple, a small percentage of starter in a low hydration dough with a long fermentation at room temperature :

40g active 100% starter fed with bread flour

550g Bread Flour

320g Water

10g Salt

I mix by hand with stretch and folds, but I'm not sure it matters how you get there.

Bulk ferment 12 hours @70F

Shape and proof for 3 hours @75F

Preheat to 500F, Bake w/steam @450F 15 min., Then @400F for 30 min.

For me, the result is amazing. I never thought that a 60% hydration could produce such an open crumb. I finally found the sour I was searching for in addition to a great looking and creamy crumb with a crispy crust.

Good luck in your search,

Alan

bobku's picture
bobku

I'll have to try this. Maybe a lot less starter will help. I'm open to any other sugestions I'll let you know how it works

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A lot less starter will definitely help produce a more sour bread. I suggest you try the a above recipe next.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Alan - Excellent! Thank you! Very simple; very easy; very effective.  I did 9 hrs on the counter and 12 hrs final proof at 42°F (plus 90 min on the counter before it went into the oven).  I am going to try it again with a different starter and see if it makes any difference.  Then I may try adding 10-15% whole wheat flour.  One of the very nice attributes of this formulation is that you can let it bulk ferment overnight then divide, shape, and retard it the next day at a temperature that is appropriate for when you want to bake it. Thus it can easily be fresh for brunch, lunch, or dinner. And it is stiff enough to be quite forgiving.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I ran the process again, but with 20% whole wheat and at 65% hydration, a 12 hr bulk fermentation (but overnight so it didn't get a S&F until hr #11), a 4 hr proof, then baked for 19 min @450°F in the combi oven with steam.  Does not smell sour but tastes much more sour.  Next time I will run the bulk fermentation a little cooler (probably 62°F instead of 70°F) and compensate by running it longer.

 

bobku's picture
bobku

Trying this for the weekend have starter on counter now will feed over next couple of days. Have my doubts this will work but I am going to try. Everytime I taste my ripe starter it taste very sour for some reason I just can't get bread to come out that way. I'll let you know how I make out

alpinegroove's picture
alpinegroove

During the bulk fermentation, did you stretch and fold or just let it sit and ferment?

 

 

bobku's picture
bobku

Yes I have done stretch and fold  sometimes 40 minutes in between sometimes 1 1/2 hour inbetween

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

What happened?  It's not happened before.  My bread rose in my B & T proofing box and the smooth surface cracked all over and was a mess.  I took it and kneaded it and made a nice ball and reproofed it, slashed it and placed it on my cold cloche bottom, sprayed it with water and covered it with the clay top and placed it into a 500-degree oven for 35 min.  Uncovered it and it had spread all over the  base and the slashes widened to allow the bread to just spread and rise just a little.  I finished it off uncovered for 15 minutes at 450-degrees and cooled it.  The crumb was 100% perfect and the flavor, according to 5 lovers of sourdough, was perfect.  The bread just looked gosh darn awful....so, I changed the name from a sourdough boul to Low Rise Artisan Prarie Sourdough Bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

like converting some of it to a firm starter first?   (Sometimes this has a quirky side effect.)   

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

No, I did nothing to the starter it was still waffle batter like.  Since the past weekend I added 2/3 cup APF to the starter and it thickened up tremendously and has more than doubled and is very very sour to smell.  I thought I might try to set up a bread dough this morning, let it sit at room temp for 18-24 hour then stretch and fold a couple times and then rise it at 78-degrees for whatever it takes for it to not quite double, then slash and do it in a preheated 500-degree clay cloche.  Leave out the sour salt since the starter is very thick and very sour and will be 3 days old at room temperature.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm beginning to wonder just what your nose smells as sour.   This extra flour just might kick in LAB production as well.  Hard to tell really in this state.

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

Well, I used the very thick starter and added 1/2 tsp yeast and it made a fantastic white bread.  Not sour just wonderful high round nicely slashed in a cross hatch pattern.  Now I'm going to do the same thing with 1/2 tsp sour salt and see what happens.

sam's picture
sam

Earlier this week, I did a small 'lazy' man's bread, no preferment at all.   Evening #1, mixed a 68% hydration all-white flour, 2% salt, with just a tiny amount of baker's yeast (0.2%).  Just tossed it into the freezer for a short while, then into the wine-chiller at 50F / 10C.   Bulk-fermented the entire thing at 50F / 10C until the next evening, then shaped, final ferment of appx 3 hrs, and baked.

It tasted pretty good, but what surprised me was it tasted sour.  That caught me off-guard a bit.  It was a slightly different sour than I'm normally used to when using my sourdough culture, but not an unpleasant one.   I've read that plain ole baker's yeast does produce some amount of acids, and I believe that is correct.   There was no accidental 'cross-contamination' with my sourdough culture.

 

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

gvz,

Good for you - a long cool bulk fermentation.  But I have no idea where the acidity came from. Certainly not from the yeast.

I have a reference somewhere with all the backup data but I can't lay my hands on it at the moment, so it is probably a non-searchable pdf image.  The experiment was to ferment flour with yeast, LAB, and mixed culture and examine the products.  Results as I remember them: yeast produce no acid, and yeast growth is independent of pH (that result is also in Ganzle's dissertation).

Doc

sam's picture
sam

I thought I had read that, somewhere, but I guess I am wrong (again).  :)

Well, the bread definitely has a tang to it.  So, not sure where it came from.  Unless my kitchen is just completely infested with ambient LAB.   heh.

Or maybe I have mutant baker's yeast. 

http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=131971

:)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds like what happens in spring after the cold winter, the bacteria gets going when it gets warm enough and paves the way for the yeast or the yeast takes advantage of the more acid situation.  I thinks it helps to look at the whole process as decomposition instead of adding stuff to the dough.  From the moment moisture hits the dough it starts to break down and decompose.  It's a natural process in that it happens constantly in nature as recycling.  Think of a wheat berry as crushed and moisture gets into it.  It would decay along with other plant matter so that all kinds of other plants and animals can feed on it seen and unseen.  Whole seeds that survive germinate and grow into plants starting the circle anew.  LAB is everywhere and when moisture comes into the picture (like adding water to flour) and when conditions are met for growth, they grow.    

I have this habit of soaking my flour for extended times before adding yeast.  I think you did the same.  It does bring out some nice flavours that manifest themselves in the finished bread.  Maybe I should go measure the pH of the dough before and after soaking to see if there is evidence of bacterial activity.  I'm sure there is.  The trick here is to stay food safe and not grow the wrong bacteria with too long a process.  

jcking's picture
jcking

In his Whole Grain Breads, pg 41; "From a functional standpoint, the job of the yeast is to leaven and slightly acidify the dough via the production of carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, while the function of the bacteria is to acidify and flavor the dough and, to a lesser degree, create some carbon dioxide."

Pg 43; "Some acidity is created by yeast fermentation, as yeast itself generates a small amount of acid while it ferments sugar."

Jim

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Jim,

I suspect that the slight acidification of yeast dough is due to CO2 but I have always been curious about how much acidity a dough actually accumulates from dissolved CO2 (it is clearly not enough to substitute for pineapple juice). If you use the equilibrium condition at the surface where the dough is in contact with air and the CO2 partial pressure is something like 3.4x10E-4 the pH would be about 5.6, but inside the dough where the pCO2 is at least 1 atm, the pH could be as low as 3.7 but that assumes that everything is in equilibrium which is probably never the case since there is not enough CO2 produced to saturate the liquid in the dough (I am assuming here since I haven't done the homework problem).  So a yeast dough (one that has no LAB to source lactic or acetic acid directly) may acidify itself somewhat through the absorption of some of the yeast-produced CO2 and the formation of carbonic acid.  I have noticed that a retarded loaf does not rise to the same extent as a loaf proofed at room temperature (correcting for time/temperature/growth rate effects) and I have attributed this to the higher solubliity of CO2 at lower temperatures but I have never been able to make the calculations work out such that I felt I was doing the accounting correctly. Certainly the dissolved CO2 in a retarded loaf must come out of solution as the temperature rises during the bake. I actually think this is the source of blistering on the exterior of bread that is baked with a fair amount of steam - which seems to show up most dramatically on low hydration doughs.  So while the CO2 may acidify the dough to some extent, it should not contribute to any sensible acidity in the finished loaf.

jcking's picture
jcking

Doc,

I agree that the cold retarding results in a less risen loaf and the blisters that go along with the process. Very sour breads I've made were the result of using Reinhart's ABED process when the second of a two loaf batch was held in the chill chest for 3 days. I don't chill my loaves anymore. If I want a more sour loaf I'll add a slice of altus brot (old SD bread, wheat or rye held in the freezer) to the build. I don't question why it works ~ I just enjoy the results. I've tried adding altus brot to my storage starter (66% hydro) and it produced a sour loaf. And then my storage starter started losing it's lift. So I imagine bacteria overtook the yeast.

I believe, from Reinhart's view of enzymes, the acids are a byproduct of enzyme activity when water comes in contact with yeast and flour. Time, temperature, ash (minerals in flour) and hydration will also effect the results.  As D Wink is fond of saying "It's just never that simple with living things."

Jim

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Thanks Jim,

I have seen formulations where old bread is added to a mix but not understood why.  I will give it a try.

If you characterize enzymes as biological catalysts, they facilitate reactions that are either slow or impossible without them. We understand how LAB makes both acetic and lactic acids, so I would have to see the biochemistry drawn out to understand how you get acid without the precursors. What process exists in a yeast, water, flour mixture that exploits a known path to creating acetate and lactate (but in the absence of LAB) ?

 

jcking's picture
jcking

Doc, being semi-retired I have time to read. So I do read everything breadwise I can get my hands on. I don't claim to understand the deep technical studies such as the Katina thesis yet I read on. So your question (in the absence of LAB) leads me to another question.

How do we avoid/eliminate LAB contamination? According to Harold McGee "On Food and cooking" pg45. "There are two major groups of lactic acid bacteria. The small genus Lactococcus and the 50-odd members of the genus Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus are more widespread in nature. They're found on plants and in animals, including the stomach of milk-fed calves and the human mouth, digestive tract..."

I can't imagine anyone baking does so in a sterile environment. So my understanding is ~ potentially LAB is everywhere. Along with the LAB present in flour, I can also imagine house plants, pets and open windows could add to the pool.

Enjoying the discussion,

Jim

sam's picture
sam

Hello,

I did another "lazy man's bread", this time with 50% white KA bread flour, 50% whole-wheat, 2% salt, 0.5% instant SAF yeast.  Mixed it all together at once, and did the same procedure as before:  50F/10C bulk-ferment for a day.   The dough did not smell acidic, bad, or rotten (I have made spoiled soakers before, I know what spoiled-leuconostoc smells like).    

The bread has a tang to it.  It's a different kind of sour than if I use my sourdough starter to make bread.  I would describe it as a harder sour, but it is not unpleasant.  Possibly an ethyl alcohol byproduct of the yeast fermentation?    I am no chemist, I have no idea.  But, there it is.  I wish I could transmit the taste of it electronically.   :)

I have a hard time believing that my kitchen is 'infested' with so much ambient LAB that it infects everything I do.   :)   I keep all my bowls and utensils clean and they go through the sani-wash cycle in the dishwasher.  I don't throw around gobs of my liquid starter on everything.  :)   But, if somehow I am 'infected' with LAB spores polluting everything, well...   I guess that's OK with me.   :)    Tastes good.

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Jim - I have debated the issue of culture stability with myself for a number of years, ever since I read somewhere that there are cultures that have been in continuous propagation and use for over 100 yrs. I have tried to cast the problem as a limit cycle around an attractor and even as a root-locus problem where stability requires all of the poles to be in the left half plane.  The best argument I can come up with is that there is some set of conditions that enables the yeast and LAB to out compete all interlopers so long as the culture is maintained within some bounds that assure stability (that is positive gains relative to the competition on average - though not necessarily on every refresh cycle).  But there are many yeasts and many LAB that are known to be represented in sourdough cultures, so it is not a given that a specific set will win the war every time.  There is a somewhat similar issue with the fermentation of a particular legume and rice to make idli, except in that case there is no starter, just naturally occurring leuconostoc bacteria (apparently in or on the legume component [urad dal, udad dal, urd bean, urd, urid, black matpe bean, black gram, black lentil]). There are all kinds of things you can do to defeat the fermentation, but if and when you do it right you get the same idli every time. 

Somewhere I read that in any newly started culture based on rye flour there may be as many as ten or twenty yeasts and perhaps fewer LAB species in the mix.  The survivors depend on the maintenance practices to enable them to out compete the losers.  There are probably similar cases for just about any grain you start with, and the constituents are perhaps different, but also perhaps have substantial overlap.  I just finished an experiment where I started with instant dry yeast on the assumption that it would not produce a good sourdough starter.  After about 10 days it was all of a sudden very acidic, and after another 10 days it was growing and acidifying exactly like my main starter, and after another 5 days I could not tell them apart except from the labels.  The new one had converged to match the other starter in the room.  Was it contamination? I think it probably was. But what is it about the maintenance practices that so strongly select for the good guys?  Beats me.  I was surprised.  Still am.  Threw out the new one a couple of days ago.

jcking's picture
jcking

Doc, you've touched on key points that are often glossed over. Yes, a new culture has at least a few different varieties of wild yeasts and LAB (Biodiversity and identification of sourdough lactic acid bacteria has found 33). Some have been isolated and named. (It's seems funny to me that people feel uncomfortable when something doesn't have a name.) Commercial yeasts are grown from specific strains of yeast under a controlled, sanitary environment. With wild yeasts who knows what kind or how many different strains abound. Which ones are we hoping to grow? Laboratory types have isolated many, yet not all of them.

It would be nice if one could send his culture out to be tested, yet what would that really tell/help us? The point I'm attempting to make here is many names are thrown about when discussing Wild Yeast, yet the only fitting one would be Saccharomyces exiguus or a wild variety of yeasts. Doc I'm sure this isn't new information to you, just for some of the thread readers.

Jim

 

sam's picture
sam

Doc: "Certainly the dissolved CO2 in a retarded loaf must come out of solution as the temperature rises during the bake. I actually think this is the source of blistering on the exterior of bread that is baked with a fair amount of steam"

I am not doubting your description of the mechanism for blistering, but from my experience, it is not required to cold-retard a dough to achieve a blistering effect.   My regular breads (using both a levain + flour-soaker), entirely at ambient room temps in the low 70'sF, all of them end up with blistering.   I do use steam.   Maybe not extreme blistering, but clearly visible.   I once read on TFL that some people consider blistering to be a defect.  (?).    I can't seem to make a bread without some level of blistering.  I must be doing something wrong.  :-)

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

gvz - I didn't intend to suggest that blistering is associated ONLY with retarded doughs. But it is only recently that I began to correlate blistering with low hydration doughs (at least more so than with wet doughs).  I see the same thing - almost everything blisters to some degree - in my combi oven, but I use some steam routinely, even to reheat pizza.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

bobku,

I just went back to see what the formulation is that you can't make sour and was unable to find a post in which you actually shared any data with us.

You might consider how much salt you are putting in the mix. Some LAB are quite sensitive to how much salt is in the mix, and LAB always seem to be more sensitive to salt than yeast.  Yeast will tolerate up to 8% salt while LAB won't tolerate more than about 4%, which means that at 2% salt the LAB have lost more of their activity due to salt on a percentage basis than the yeast has by perhaps a factor of two.  Try 1% and see if you observe a difference.

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

Is the cloche cover hot at 500-degrees when you place it over the hot stone with the dough on it?  I would be afraid to spray water onto a hot cloche for fear of cracking it.  But, a cold moist cover would protect the dough from the heat of the oven and it would not bake...????

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The cloche, a deep stainless steel restaurant steam tray pan, is cold when spritzed prior to being placed over the loaf.  One caveat is that when removing it [from the oven] you must wear protective mitts to prevent escaping steam from buring your skin. Tipping the pan up and away from your body allows the hot steam to escape up - keep your face away also! The stainless steel cover heats rapidly to the oven's ambient temperature and has no real effect other than allowing a slower temperature ramp for the baking bread which is a good thing...,

I've tried the other methods for steam even resorting to baking the bread inside an oven bag to prove the concept of the cloching concept for steamed crust development. The pan can be just about anything that can withstand the oven's baking temperature and has enough space to allow for clearance of the loafs oven spring rise. Some have used low cost aluminum foil turkey basting pans successfully.  Note that the spritz starts a steam environment for the bread and as the bread bakes it outgasses water in the form of steam into the closed cloche maintaining a steam environment. It's a pretty neat solution for the home baker. 

Bien Cordialement, Wild-Yeast

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I lactoferment vegetables all the time in 10% salt and the LAB have no problem thriving.In fact, the salt is important in suppressing yeasts and molds from growing. In bread dough, I believe it is the yeasts that do not tolerate salt well.

Any source for the quote below?

You might consider how much salt you are putting in the mix. Some LAB are quite sensitive to how much salt is in the mix, and LAB always seem to be more sensitive to salt than yeast.  Yeast will tolerate up to 8% salt while LAB won't tolerate more than about 4%, which means that at 2% salt the LAB have lost more of their activity due to salt on a percentage basis than the yeast has by perhaps a factor of two.

As a comment, my brother in law makes the sourest sourdough whole wheat bread I have ever tasted. Too puckery for my taste.It could probably clean rust off the bumpers-just moisten the slice of bread! He generally follows the Tassajara breadmaking with multiple rises,sponges and a long,cold slow final rise. Living in a semi cave,wood heated house, it is cold enough in the kitchen not to need refrigeration to retard the dough. I'm sure it is the multiple, long cold rises that sour his bread. My bread is never sour.We use the same sourdough starter but it is maintained differently, of course, and his breadmaking technique is a lot different. When I have tried a long,slow rise for souring, I generally have had some issues with enzyme overactivity causing gluten degeneration. My kitchen is prob not cool enough and I am not patient enough.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Some LAB are quite salt tolerant, as you point out, but the common sourdough LAB is not.

The source can be found on page 2618, col 2, just above Fig 2 in:

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 July; 64(7): 2616–2623. PMCID: PMC106434
Copyright © 1998, American Society for MicrobiologyModeling of Growth of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis and Candida milleri in Response to Process Parameters of Sourdough FermentationMichael G. Gänzle, Michaela Ehmann, and Walter P. HammesInstitut für Lebensmitteltechnologie, Universität Hohenheim, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Davo's picture
Davo

"When I have tried a long,slow rise for souring, I generally have had some issues with enzyme overactivity causing gluten degeneration. "

I used to get this at times. I fridge retard my loaves nearly all the time so I can fit a bake mid-week - loaves shaped late one night are retarded in fridge overnight and baked following work the next day, usually 20-22 hours later.

Now, I make sure the bulk ferment hasn't gone too far before shaping. Certainly nothing like double. The dough only has very small bubbles when I cut it (usually 4 loaf batch). Haven't had this problem since, and I still get a good rise and good sour bread.

I don't know why it is, but I can't notice sourness in the bread until the day after baking. I'm sure the pH doesn't change, so why this would be is a mystery, but on the day of baking, even if it is cooled, it doesn't taste very sour (to me). The day after, tang is there (for me). Maybe it's because soon after baking there are other flavours/aromas that "distract" the taste buds, and these are no longer so prevalent. Whatever, it's a thing I've noticed.

Also, most of my loaves are around 5-15% rye. I think the natural rye flavour is a little sharp, so this I find accentuates the tang from acidity. I occasionally bake an all-white, and still get the same effect of more-tang-later, but rye in the mix certainly gives more overall "sour" as well as other complex flavours - for me anyways.

G-man's picture
G-man

How long do you wait after you've baked a loaf of bread to cut into it and try it? How long does a loaf of bread typically last you?

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I allow my breads to cool to room temp then slice them.  Remember, breads in bakeries, sit all day after a morning baking.  You buy and slice their breeads at evening meals and the breads are perfect.  

The evening of the day of baking, I place my bread into a plastic bag and slice off pieces for as many days as it lasts, then bake a new one just before I need it.  

Last evening we had a dinner party and I took two of my breads and crisped the crust in a 450-degree oven for 4 minutes to serve with a salad and then with rack of lamb.  The two sourdough breads went great with the lamb and one was one day old and the other 2 days old.

bobku's picture
bobku

I have finally made a sour loaf. The way it works for me is to make a poolish using a small amount of starter and as much flour and water from recipe that I can keeping hydration at 100% let that sit and ferment. I'll even taste it to get the sour that I want. Then I'll make my bread as usual. I havent had any luck making my bread sour using a cold retard although I still retard I think it helps general taste and structure and I like blisters it can create

alpinegroove's picture
alpinegroove

Thank you for the update, bobku. Can you please provide more details?

How do you make the poolish?

What dough recipe do you use?

What is a small amount of starter?

How long do you let the poolish ferment?

After the fermentation of the poolish, do you then resume with normal bulk fermentation?

Thanks

 

alpinegroove's picture
alpinegroove

Also, is the poolish made with commercial yeast?

Can poolish be made with wild yeasts?

 

 

hutchndi's picture
hutchndi

Of course you can make a poolish with wild yeast, a poolish is just a very wet preferment, no matter how technical one wants to describe it.

alpinegroove's picture
alpinegroove

Thanks, I am still curious to hear the details of bobku's success.