The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Cheating" on the sourness

GregS's picture
GregS

"Cheating" on the sourness

Happy New Year to all!

I've read and experimented with numerous approaches for getting a more "sour" starter and resulting bread. None of my attempts have produced anything approaching the "tang" of genuine SF-type bread.

Has anyone had experience in supplementing their sourdough-leavened dough with either citric acid or lactic acid? The lactobacillus produces lactic acid, but I can never seem to promote its vigorous growth in my starter. ...I'm ready to "cheat".  What about sources? Citric acid seems to be vitamin C, but the only lactic acid supplements are for skin peels!

Any help welcomed.

GregS

Darxus's picture
Darxus

There's also acetic acid, produced by acetobacter, a genus of acetic acid bacteria.  Acetic acid = vinegar.  I read somewhere that (some of?) the bakers of the famous San Francisco sourdough add vinegar to increase sourness.

Crider's picture
Crider

I got malic acid and lactic acid from a home-brewing/winemaking supply store. I also worked with vinegar and citric acid. Lactic acid is weird because it doesn't have much of a smell. I didn't get the results I was looking for. 

King Arthur sells a fake sourdough additive in quantities suitable for the home baker. You can read this article at Baking Management for the horrible truth about how your local supermarket's  'sourdough' bread is probably made.

I settled on getting sour by long fermenting times -- adding starter at only 5% to 10% quantities.

spthan's picture
spthan

What is the source of your water? Is it highly chlorinated? Try using filtered water or clean well water. It might make a difference especially in your starter.

FoodFascist's picture
FoodFascist

agreed - another way is to use boiled cooled water.

Mylissa20's picture
Mylissa20

FoodFascist, I had done a bunch of reading lately about the microbiology of starters, and the one thing that seemed most agreed upon was that sourdough bakers should never use boiled water in their baking.  The reason stated in the research was that it turns out that the great majority of the yeast and LAB microorganisms are found in the water itself, and greatly add to the populations.  I can find the source if you want it, but I didn't bookmark it so it might take some looking.

 

Darxus's picture
Darxus

I'm interested in that source.  Can always use more science about this stuff.  And it seems strange to me that more yeast would show up in chloriminated city water than on whole grain flour.

FoodFascist's picture
FoodFascist

Um. Agree with Darxus, that does seem rather unlikely. Besides if the boiled water is stored uncovered (mine is), wouldn't a certain amount of microorganisms end up in it anyway?

I would have thought, if population numbers are all we are talking about, a longer fermentation time should sort that. Whereas chlorine in the water will indiscriminately kill everything, good or bad.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ascorbic acid is Vitamin C    

Citric acid will give you a more sour tasting loaf.  Also called Sour salt in the supermarket.  Yes, some prefer this method of flavoring their dough.

I prefer not to take chances adding chemical ingredients into my dough.  I don't think these get quality tested often enough.   

Have you tried a starter build using  1:10:10 (starter:water:flour) to get more sour into your loaf?  

FoodFascist's picture
FoodFascist

you could try kefir grains. I got mine from eBay for a fiver or something. They are a culture that contains a host of bacteria and yeasts, but mostly various strands of lactobacilli. Both my starters (wheat and rye) were started by mixing flour and water and dipping in half a teaspoon of grains. Fed daily for 3 days and on day 4 I was baking bread with them. Been going strong for a number of months, although I've just decided to start another rye starter after my old one suffered lots of neglect over the past few weeks.

You could just pop a few grains into your existing starter to add sourness to it, maybe wrap them up in a piece of clean cloth to save you having to fish them out later.

Doesn't quite make sense getting grains though if all you're not actually planning to make kefir as well.

There are also commercial kefir starters which are powdered, lab manufactured strands of bacteria. For making kefir, they're not as good or as strong as grains (also who knows what "other ingredients" they might have in them) but for your purpose, might just do. 

Or you could try a capsule or two of probiotics - there's a thing called "acidophilus" which typically contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and a few strands of Bifidobacteria. Since they are manufactured as food additives, one would hope they should be quite safe.

leostrog's picture
leostrog

Exactly wrigth! Adittion of dry culture  - it's a wonderful way to enriche starter wuth lactobacilli and and make the process of formation and growth of  starter "microbially controlled".

GregS's picture
GregS

Thanks to everyone for the informative replies. From those and other research, I plan to try the least artificial solutions and work up from there.  A question to Mini Oven if she sees this: How long does it take a 1 10 10 to ferment fully? Is it days?  And when I use it in a levain built from that, do I need to expect longer rising times for the loaves?

Thanks again.

GregS

pointygirl's picture
pointygirl

What style of loaf are you making?  If it is a sandwich bread that contains dairy,  using yogurt instead of milk will make it more sour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)  Send me a private note if you want a reply quickly, sorry this took so long but the title "I guess I'll stay natural" didn't flag me right away 'cause I agree with you.  Guess you figured it out by now...   :)  

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

in non-trivial amounts it may  have  very unexpected side effects. A friend of mine experimented a bit with it and it had a "melts--in-the-mouth" effect as soon as the crumb was in the mouth. He always used tiny amounts of it, so ... be careful!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

You could add some active yogurt to your dough.  I add 4 oz of plain Oikos Greek Yogurt to my pre-soak, which sits overnight on the counter.  In the morning, the pre-soak is soft and pliable, and smells wonderful.  I also "let" a little of the yogurt get carried over into the starter by stirring the pre-ferment with an un-rinsed spatula that I had used to mix the yogurt with water for the pre-soak.  I don't know if this did anything.  My starter really only smells like yeast.  I use the Oikos brand because it lists more varieties of active LAB on the label than Dannon does.

I used to use kefir whey, from making kefir cheese, from kefir that I cultured, in my pre-soak.  This was very tasty.  However, kefir does not like the hot summers in the midwestern USA, nor does it seem to like being shoved into a 30F refrigerator for a part of each day.