The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Glezer starter and "sour" Sourdough

danmerk's picture

Glezer starter and "sour" Sourdough

So thanks to this awesome forum, I have finally created the Columbia recipe in Glezer's book correctly. Pics are below. Now I understand how this is supposed to be made from cultured yeasts from rye flour, then building this up to make a strong culture. I did just this. One thing I do not get is that every time I make this bread recipe, I am only using 30g of it the day before and letting it ferment. This does not seem to be a true sour sourdough recipe? The other day I sliced a piece to a pal of mine who sais my bread was awesome. He said it had great crust, great crumb. When I told him that I used my culture he said he thought it was made from commercial yeasts. I tried to explain to him that this is indeed a fermented batch and I used home made yeast. He said there was not enough lactic to make it so sour. So I went back to Glezer's book and saw that there is no real "sour" sourdough recipe rather a bunch of French levains, and some rustic loaves that use this p93 culture. So am I correct in thinking that she does not make a true San Fran sourdough? And if not, can someone who follows her methodology, can they stear me in the right direction of a recipe that uses that firm starter and makes really sour, dourdough?


Here are some pics of my last batch. I wish my crust would look more rich and not so dry. I spray water on it before I peel into the oven.


susanfnp's picture

Hey Dan, great loaves, congratulations! I’m really glad this worked out for you.

Take a look at this thread for ideas on what makes a dough more or less sour. I would suggest experimenting with retarding (refrigerating) your dough. I say “experimenting” because it can be tricky to get the timing right and it depends on the temperature of your dough, your fridge, etc. I can’t give you exact times, but now that you have successfully made the bread, it will be a little easier for you to gauge when the dough is ready. Cooling the dough down basically stops the activity of the yeast, but the acid-producing bacteria go on doing their thing. Here are a couple of general approaches I might try (based on Glezer’s Columbia recipe):

1) After folding the dough, let it ferment for another hour and then put it in the refrigerator for 12 hours or so (could be a little more or less). Take it out of the fridge and let it warm up and continue fermenting until “done” (this is where having made the dough before will help you). Continue with the rest of the recipe as written.


2) After shaping the loaves, let them proof for a couple of hours, then refrigerate them for around 12 hours. Then, if they have finished proofing, you can bake them directly out of the fridge (you don’t need to let them warm up first). Otherwise, take them out and let them continue proofing until “done.”

About the crust: I think yours looks wonderful, but maybe what you’re talking about when you say you wish it would look “more rich” is the kind of color you get when you steam the oven. Did you do that, apart from spraying the loaves before they went in? I don’t think Glezer’s book is great on explaining how to do this (she suggests a garden sprayer, but I have issues with this). The way I create steam is with a shallow pan filled with lava rocks, sitting on the bottom rack of the oven, which preheats along with the oven. A couple of minutes before loading the bread into the oven, I place a damp towel in there to pre-humidify the oven (take it out before loading the bread). Once the loaves are loaded I pour about ½ cup of hot water into the pan and quickly close the door. I take the pan out after 10-15 minutes because prolonged steam will penalize the crust. Even if the water is already all evaporated from the pan, you need to open the oven door to let the moisture out.

I hope this is helpful. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful bread.



leemid's picture

Let me toss in my tiny bit of experience. No matter what I do with my one starter, Otis, I cannot make sour bread. No matter what I do with Franco, the other starter, I can't help but get sour bread. Franco is a true SF starter from a South San Francisco bakery. The two starters differ in other ways too, some I like, some I don't. One of these days I will have enough experience to get what I want out of both, if I'm lucky.

That's my story...


andrew_l's picture

make a third starter (Fratis?) by mixing 10 grams of each, feed with 60 grams water and 80 grams flour and see how that performs? You have two chances - the best of both so you'll have an ace hybrid - or the worst of both, in which case you bin it!

weavershouse's picture

How did you like the taste? I think your crusts look great, I'll take a piece from that dark end. weavershouse

zolablue's picture

Glezer’s starter recipe is simply a less hydrated version than the batter type.  So it is a firm starter, which she calls a French-type sourdough starter, but that’s the main difference.  Or rather that is the simple answer.  There is a lot more that goes into the science of what is growing in a culture based on feeding ratios and temperatures.  If you search the site you’ll find a lot of great info regarding this especially if you find bwraith’s detailed posts.


The recipes in ABAA simply use a very small amount of firm starter to make the levains the night before but they are indeed true sourdough recipes.  If you read her text on pages 88 and 89 she explains how different countries prefer different flavors of sourdough – some more acid and some more lactic.  She will explain the importance to try and achieve a well-balanced sourdough starter and then you will learn through proper handling of bread doughs how to create a more mild or more sour flavor based on what you wish.


Having said that, I have not been able to tell any discernable difference in breads I've made that I have retarded for long periods in my refrigerator or if I have used a great deal more of my firm starter which I was afraid to do but prodded to try by bwraith.  They all come out mild but extremely delicious with a great depth of flavor.  I can't answer why that is the case but for now it seems to be holding true.