The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Starter too mild's picture

Sourdough Starter too mild

I have been running my latest starter for about two weeks - a mixture of white and wholemeal flour.  It is fully active.  Using Peter Reinhart's recipie, I used some of it to build a firm starter over two days - that remained fairly active as well but I refrigerated it for the second night.  Although the loaves from this firm starter rose quite well and crusted well, they lack a bit of spourdough zing.  I am not necessarily a really sour flavour person but would like to have a bit more depth to the flavour.

Any Ideas?



wildman's picture

Is your bread dough a pure levain dough or are you adding commercial yeast? What percentage of levain by weight are you adding to your main bread dough? How long are you allowing it to rise and how much volume increase does it get to before the final proof is done? Between the bulk rise, bench rest and final proofing even in a warm kitchen there should be at least 8 or 9 hours of just watching the dough rise. Without enough time you will not get much sour flavor.

Also consider where the starter is in terms of its activity when you add it to the main bread dough. Was the starter on the rise or falling? If the starter had not been fed recently the dough will be more sour and will rise less for a given period of time. If the starter was very active at the time of being introduced to the main dough mass it will be milder and rise higher when baked depending on time given for bulk rise and proofing. The particular brand and type of flours used for the starter mixture, starter hydration percentage, how much and how often you feed the starter all control the strength and flavor of the starter significantly.'s picture

Thanks Wildman, Pure Levain, with 50 % levain in the mix. I suspect that from your other comments, I need to rise much longer. I did not note the starter stage when adding - but will do so for the next lot. Mother starter hydration about 65% but the firm starter from that about 50%.  I prpobably need to stick to the recepie a bit more closely...  Thanks for the questions and advice. 

breadforfun's picture

Hi Peter,

Is this a new starter?  After two weeks it wouldn't be completely mature yet.  Its flavors will evolve over time, so just keep at it. Having said that, some ways to increase the sour tang in your loaves: Retard them in the refrigerator overnight before you bake them.  Also, sourdough tends to become more sour on the second or third day after baking.  Lastly you can adjust your recipe to use more (25% or more) of the flour in the levain.

There are lots of threads on this topic on TFL.  If you search the term "more sour" in the search box at the top left, you can get lots of other ideas.

-Brad's picture

Thanks Brad for the steer - I will searchh more.  It appears that the quest for good sourdough is unending!

cor's picture

I would just decrease the amount of starter in the recipe and increase the fermentation time.  Less starter, more fermentation time, more sourness.  Conversely, if I wanted a bread to be less sour, I would add more starter and decrease the fermentation time. Also play with temperatures.  Colder water/cold room= longer fermentation, and the converse, warm water/warm room= quicker fermentation.'s picture

Thanks Cor, that sounds like my problem.  Too much flour and too shore bulh fermentation / proofing.

baybakin's picture

Dmsnyder had a quest on making SF-style sourdough bread (Warf bread) which has some great tips on bringing out the sour in your sourdough (  Depending on  your location, getting that sour you want is quite difficult.  When I was living in San Diego I couldn't get sour bread to save my life, but up here in Oakland, it seems to be much easier.

Good luck with your own sourdough quest.