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Very sour, expensive sourdough, causes a sensation of vomitting

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NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

Very sour, expensive sourdough, causes a sensation of vomitting

I don't understand what the purpose of making sourdough is, as it's both more expensive and less "good tasting" as the commercial yeast used. Of course, that may be something other sourdough bakers might not want to hear because in their sourdough making everything turns out the way they want it, so excuse my ignorance as I am (as my name suggests) a newbie or "new" baker.

However, for me it is always the same old thing: I take a part of my sourdough starter (the REAL kind, using wild yeast), I mix in some flour and wait the 12-18 hours, I then quickly knead it and shape it and then store it in my oven for 1-2 hours for it to rise. Before turning on my oven I take out the pan where the dough has been resting for the 1-2 hours and I let my oven warm up on very high (150-200C) for a couple of minutes until hot.

Then I insert my dough (untouched since the rising phase began) on the pan into the oven with a glass of water besides it, to give it that good crust from the steam.

After it's gotten its golden-brown crust, I take it out, let it cool and eat slices with butter.

That's the same routine I've been doing for a while now, and every single time the dough is very very sour (EVEN WHEN I ADD EXTRA FLOUR AFTER THE 12-18 HOURS OF FERMENTATION!). It's almost uneatable, tasting like a wild yoghurt (meaning the sour yoghurt that hasn't been sweetened like commercial yoghurt).

Also, a while after eating it I will get a strong feeling that I need to puke, that can only be gotten rid of by either drinking excessive fluids to calm my stomach down, or by actually puking (I choose the former rather than the latter).

 

The whole process of making sourdough (REAL sourdough, not the fake Youtube kind everyone mistakenly takes to be the real old kind) is very expensive compared to making a normal dough from commercial yeast. Continually do I have to "throw away" a part of the sourdough (even if I store my starter in the fridge) to make room for new water and flour. Additionally, I have to add excessively much flour continually to be able to work with the dough. Even in cases where the dough has been very moist (because I thought a moist dough would turn out less sour) it's been just as bad, if not worse than when I add a lot of flour.

Also, note, I add the final part of flour ("lots of flour") in the FINAL stages of the bread making, the 1-2 hours before I actually bake the bread. This is because the fermented flour is, with the help of a microorganism, what creates the sour taste (from lactic acid if I read correctly), so adding sufficient flour AFTER the long fermentation should obviously make the dough less sour, yet this is hardly the case for me.

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

Also, to add to my text above, I don't use salt in my dough because my dough hardly rises (the rise is very insignificant) and salt inhibits the growth of cells (yeast in this case), so adding salt to a poorly rising bread would only worsen it, if I am correct.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I don't like my sourdough sour either, so I add a tsp. of baking soda to the mix.  The reason I make sourdough bread is for the health benefit, as even white sourdough does not spike blood sugar the way a regular bread does.  If it tasted very sour and made me sick, I wouldn't bother with it; I'd make regular bread with added oatmeal.

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

I don't know if you've noticed this with yourself, but with me, the white stuff on my tongue caused by bacteria growth is worsened when I eat sourdough bread, so this talk about "probiotics" or "healthy natural eating" nonsense talk is either oversimplified or completely wrong. Furthermore, if it causes nausea or a feeling of vomiting, it's probably because the body wants to get rid of whatever is in the bread.

but I'm not a biologist, I just speak from my personal experience (as does even biologists).

 

what made me start making it initially was the many good-looking, "high quality" crispy breads I've seen on Youtube. Sadly, many of those who're making the "sourdough" videos have NO CLUE what sourdough refers to, and are using commercial baker's yeast and NOT wild yeast, so their misinformation is partly to blame..

As I've said before, it may also be my own ignorance at play here, so if there's any errors to correct in what I am saying then do so.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Lot of people like Wonder Bread judging from the amount shelf space it has in grocery stores but I don't so I don't buy it.  In your case you don't like sourdough so I would not make it.  Lots of variety in the world so choose what suits you.

Gerhard

Heath's picture
Heath

How old is your starter?  Maybe it needs strengthening. 

There's no need to keep discarding starter after it has matured.  Just keep a small, core amount (I keep about a tablespoonful) in the fridge and build it up when you're baking.  That way there's no extra expense - in fact, you're saving money by not buying yeast.

Maybe you should give details of your recipe as the timings sound unusual to me.  The dough may be over-fermented after 12-18 hours (depending on what temperature it's being stored), in which case it's not surprising that it's unworkable and won't rise.  I've never heard of adding flour after fermentation before.

As the others say, if you can't get sourdough to work for you, there's no shame in going back to making commercially-yeasted bread.  I wouldn't continue to make sourdough if I didn't enjoy the taste.

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

The starter I made with only wheat flour and water had been stored in my sealed closet (where I keep my pans and whatever to make food) for slightly above 5 days, at room temperature. Everyday I woke up at 6-8am and fed my starter by pouring 50-60% out and adding new fresh wheat flour and water (enough water so the air can escape, like a thick pancake mix).

The part I was going to throw out I instead stored in a plastic container (which explains the intense sourness, due to the overfermentation), however, I added new wheat flour AFTER the final fermentation of that dough (the dough comprised of "starter throw outs") - enough so maybe 80% of the new dough was new flour, and it still turned out oversour.

I tried several things at first to resolve this sourness, first by pouring water on my very stricky dough so it became water-llike in texture and lost its sour taste, I tried adding new wheat flour just before baking, and etc. Nothing worked.

 

I read from a baking website that claims to provide "q&a on sourdough breadmaking" that if the dough is too sour then more wheat flour should be added AFTER the final fermentation has occured, and if not sour enough, then it should be left to ferment, because fermentation is what causes the sourness. I did exactly this and it didn't work.

 

A question I got: is sourdough supposed to be... sour? I know it's called sourdough, but hardly anyone could eat this sour bread that I've made - even if 50% of the sourness was removed. The sourness completely overwhelms the "bread taste" normally seen with commercial yeast.

Heath's picture
Heath

To be honest I'm quite confused by your post.

If your starter is only 5 days old, it's probably not mature enough to bake with yet.  It needs more time to develop the correct combinations of yeast and bacteria.  I'd leave it until it's at least two weeks old before trying to bake with it.  It needs to smell of yeast.

The starter not being ready to use probably explains the awful taste too.

To answer your question, sourdough varies in sourness a lot.  Most people complaining about the taste of their sourdough here on TFL say that it's too mild.  Mine is just nice and tangy without being actually sour.  The taste you're describing doesn't sound normal to me - don't try eating any more of it at the moment.

I'd say you should buy a well-respected book - Peter Rheinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice is one of the most recommended here - and read from cover to cover before you attempt to bake again.  There's too much confused information on the internet.

At least stick to this forum as it's full of experienced sourdough bakers.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

NewbieBaker22,

Perhaps you should try a known good recipe from this, or another site, rather than fiddling around with something that doesn't seem to be working for you. Also, I'd like to know where you got your starter and how you're maintaining it, as well as the details of how you're making bread. There are lots of ways to influence the sourness of the final bread, either up or down. But, if you're not getting a good rise, we should work on that first. Most of the things that influence a good rise, also affect the taste and texture. As for throwing away starter, there are several ways to maintain a starter that do not include throwing any way. Give us as many details as you can, and we will help point you in the right direction to get the bread you want. My family doesn't like sour bread, so I make mine very mild, and they love it. It can be done, even with "sourdough" bread.

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

I was actually following a recipe from Youtube - a rather simple one as well. The later issues I had to "research" myself.

I may've misunderstood you, but doesn't your post suggest BUYING a sourdough culture? ("Also, I'd like to know where you got your starter")

I didn't buy my starter, I simply used the method of letting the yeast already present in the wheat flour produce in plenty, by reducing the acidity of the environment the bacteria themselves create, by pouring out the 50-60% each day and adding new flour.

My bread has a very strong "wild yoghurt" taste to it. It doesn't taste fruity but very acidic - probably what one could expect from buying a so-called "natural yoghurt" or "wild yoghurt culture" product and eating that.

I do not add any sugar or salt, neither to my starter nor to my final dough, because that should be unnecessary (surely the ancients didn't have access to these "formalities" in the doses required to affect the bread).

My dough is a simple wheat flour and water mixture, with enough water to make the dough "moist" but not enough to make rising impossible ( more moist = less ability to rise).

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

I have found, and heard, that a less fluid dough will give a culture with less lactic acid, which gives a bad flavor. So a cold-stored, non-pourable starter works the best.

How is the smell of the starter? It should be pleasantly "fruity", and not sharp, vinegary, yoghurt-ish, or overly yeasty.

On the other hand, too much acetic acid can also give a bad culture.

You might also be provoking acid production by doing a warm rise in the oven. I have no foundation for this suggestion from breadbaking, only from yoghurt making.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

NewbieBaker22,

Try changing your starter maintenance to the following:

Use refined (white) flour for the feedings. The whole wheat flour is going to cause your bread to be very sour.

Feed more often, or put it in the fridge so it doesn't ferment as quickly. I use white flour, and at room temperature, I'd have to feed it twice a day. In the fridge, it only gets fed when I bake, which is about once or twice a week at the most, sometimes longer than a week between. With whole wheat flour, I'd have to feed more often.

Keep a smaller amount and build up when you bake. For instance, if you wanted to use 100g for baking bread, keep a smaller amount in the fridge, maybe 30g. Before your next bake, take the 30g out, feed it 50g each of flour and water, for a total of 130g. Let it ferment until it has risen to its highest size, then remove the 30g and put it back into the fridge for next time. Use the 100g for your bread. Now, you've fed your starter, but you've thrown nothing away, and you're ready to make bread.

I'm not so sure about adding flour after the fermentation time is complete. I'd think that would make your problem of not rising enough even worse. If you do want to bake with whole wheat and you don't want to use white flour even in your starter, you need to use a lower inoculation when you feed it. Even with white flour, if you're only taking out 50% of the starter, by volume, and replacing it with fresh flour and water, you are keeping way too much of the old starter. The more starter you have kept, the more food it needs to be fed. The less food it is fed, the more often it needs to be fed. If you don't feed it much, and you don't feed it often, you are over fermenting it, and that may be exactly why it doesn't rise well AND why it's too sour! If you have the time to watch it, the best way to feed it the optimum amount is to let it rise until it doesn't rise any more, then feed it. With the way you are feeding it, I would think it would reach that point every couple hours.

At the point you are right now, you seem to have way too much on your hands. Try using the majority of it in pancakes or something, and start over with just a small amount of it, like around 10g. To the 10g, add 30g each of flour and water, keep it at room temp, and watch it grow (just check on it every hour or so). When it reaches its highest point (peak), take note of how long it took to get there. That is the time you need to feed it again. If you want that time to be longer, feed it more flour and water compared to the amount of starter you keep. So, maybe 10g starter, but 35g or 40g each of flour and water next time. Or, calculate it out to the amount you want to use in your bread, plus a little more to carry on with. Just make sure the ratio of starter:flour:water is such that it stays well fed.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Does the recipe you're using presume no salt in the dough? I'm asking because salt does a lot of things to the dough besides just add a salty flavor. If the recipe was meant to have salt in it, it most likely won't work right without it. However, there are salt-free bread recipes around.

How long have you had your starter going? It may not be mature enough to be used in bread yet. Also, the methods used for "starting" the culture are not going to work for maintaining it. When you are trying to cultivate it at the beginning, there is a very small amount of the yeasts and LABs present on the flour. You want to keep as much of the same around as you can, so their numbers can multiply. As they multiply, they eat more of the food in less time, because there are "more mouths to feed" basically. At some point, the amount of new food being added has to be more than the amount of old starter being kept. The minimum ratio I've seen on here from most people is 1:1:1 of starter:flour:water by weight (or occasionally, maybe less water, but never less flour). I've found that my starter, when kept at room temp, needs much more food, around 1:2:2 in winter, up to as much as 1:8:8 in summer - twice a day!

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

as well.  If you don't like the taste of sourdough that you are making, why keep making it?  That would be my first questions, however it is not me to judge what you do... instead, I think the good people here have given you some great suggestions on what you can do to improve the taste.   FWIW:  I do not make sourdough, although I use a wild yeast starter and follow the instructions for Tartine bread explicitly.  We've never created a sourdough bread here and don't want to.  It's probably a bit more trickier than the sweet wild yeast breads I've been using.  Good luck!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

If you don't like the taste of sourdough that you are making, why keep making it?

That is my question too.

It reminds me of the joke of the guy who goes to the doctor and complains that it hurts when he hits himself in the head with a hammer. The doctor asks him why he keeps hitting himself in the head with a hammer. The man replies "Because it feels so good when I stop."

<rimshot>

"Different strokes for different folks" and all that. I love sour sourdough, it has never made me feel the least bit off, but if it isn't for you, so be it. There are plenty of other options out there.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Your bread needs salt.

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

Wait, so you took the discard from when you were creating your new starter and used that to make bread?

I'm also new to sourdough so I could be mistaken, but if I recall correctly the discard from an immature starter is not recommended to make bread with! That stuff could be leuconostoc for all you know - yum! (not!)

Another thing - is your 12-18 hour ferment in the fridge? The only stage when I ferment for that long at room temperature is when I'm building my levain. If I ever leave my final dough for 12-18 hours it's definitely going to be in the fridge, and only if I wanted it to be MORE sour. In my humble and none too experienced opinion I think you might have starter issues rather than baking method, though.

Lots of helpful information here in this thread.

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

Eh, I think I'll just give it up. Sourdough is too much problems for what seems to be too little reward. That I have to keep feeding my starter, even if only once a week, versus buying a 1 cent commercial yeast block, is too expensive. I really wanted to make the "artisan" bread or whatever it's called, which has that elastic-looking dough "crumb" and a very nice crust, but I might as well go buy it in a store if this is all the trouble I have to go through to make it work.

Also, the sourdough is very sticky and difficult to work with, even with the plastic or metal scrapers bakers usually use.

Sorry for wasting people's time here.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

commercial yeast and get a good crumb and crust. I started bread baking a couple months ago with Ken Forkish's book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, and his Overnight White Bread with Poolish is one of my favorite breads. Give that a try.

This blog has the recipe and a good description of the process.

http://breadmakingblog.breadexperience.com/2013/03/sing-to-me-my-bread-crackle-sweetly-in.html

ericreed's picture
ericreed

she scores the loaf, but in the original, you proof the round seam side down, flip it over for baking, and the seam splits open in a rustic style, no scoring necessary.

Heath's picture
Heath

That I have to keep feeding my starter, even if only once a week, versus buying a 1 cent commercial yeast block, is too expensive.

If you don't discard any of your starter, you're only using flour that would go into the recipe anyway, so there's no ongoing cost with sourdough.  It's actually cheaper because you don't have to buy yeast.

Also, the sourdough is very sticky and difficult to work with, even with the plastic or metal scrapers bakers usually use.

I think you've had a bad experience from trying to use an immature starter.  It's not usually as hard as your recent experience.

Maybe you'll give it another go one day.  I'd repeat my advice to get a good book first (can borrow one from the library) instead of relying on confusing advice on the internet.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

It seems counter intuitive but it is much easier to work with sticky wet dough when your hands are wet.

Gerhard

Ford's picture
Ford

I may have missed it, but I did not see anyone comment on the "12 to 18 hours" of fermentation.  That will certainly give you a sour loaf, and even more sour since you do not add salt.  Add about 2% salt (based on flour weight) and ferment only long enough for the dough to double in volume.  Mine doubles in two hours.

After the bulk fermentation, shape the loaf and let it rise until double in volume, slash, spray with water, and bake!  I think you will find your loaf is not so sour.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

starter doesn't contain enough yeast.  Also the "starter" used were discards from the beginning steps before the starter has changed into a viable starter.  Not a good selection of bugs or even a safe one to eat.  Not so simple as too long a ferment.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

NewbieBaker22,

You can get fine artisan bread using commercial yeast. On this site, there is all the help you need. Sourdough is stickier than dough made with commercial yeast. And it is somewhat difficult to work with also. But it isn't so bad once you get used to it, and the extra depth of flavor (without any sourness, even) is well worth it to some of us. But, that doesn't mean that you've failed or wasted anyone's time. A lot of what makes bread good has to do with how things are done, not what kind of yeast is involved. You can get a rich flavor in your bread without sourdough, once you learn how. Try looking at Pain à l'Ancienne:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33568/reinharts-pain-%C3%A0-lancienne

Heath's picture
Heath

Newbie, don't feel like a failure or that you've wasted our time.  We all learn something from these discussions, and we've all had our own disasters.

I'm sure you'll learn to bake delicious bread with practice, sourdough or not.

Good luck :-)

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

Thanks for the welcoming comments. I'll follow the links provided and try using commercial yeast to achieve the "artisan" bread I was describing :)

chris319's picture
chris319

Sourdough is not for everyone.

Here, Julia Child shows you how to make a yeasted French bread, so get out your flit gun. No starter and the loaves have a nice, crisp crust. Professor Calvel shows you how to form the baguettes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iH3hjDUhWw

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

going off.  Try this before you ditch it.  Take half a cup of the stuff, as is, and let it just sit in the corner of the kitchen covered for a week until it goes thru a dead phase and then comes back to life.  Don't discard and don't feed.  

I suspect it hasn't completed it's intended journey into a viable sourdough starter and stuck in phase 3 not reaching phase 4.  Too much food, foo often, not enough acid.  You are inadvertently feeding the bugs that should have died out as more acid loving bugs move in to take over the starter.  

Clues:  "doesn't rise much"  "sticky"  "smells of vomit" "makes me vomit"  theses are all saying loudly that the culture is not completed the phase to high acid loving yeast.  Constant daily feeding keeps the culture too neutral.  You can speed up a healthy reaction by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice (citric acid) to the culture hopefully making the environment a little less friendly for these transient bacteria which seem to be eating up the food and preventing a positive change in the starter culture.  You can easily do this with little effort while you try other solutions.  

It may take a week or more so anything more than a daily observance is not needed.  Do mark the current level of starter and you may want to stir it once a day, giving you the chance to note any changes in aroma.  Do leave a good amount of head space in the jar or set it inside another bowl or container to catch any overflow when it does decide to produce the proper acid loving yeast.   When it does smell strong of beer, then remove a small portion and feed 1:2:2 by weight.

kensbread01's picture
kensbread01

after all with a screen name like that, her advice cannot be all bad :-)

MarkS's picture
MarkS

My first attempts at making sourdough were disastrous! I followed the recipes for starters in bread books that relied on commercial yeast and only a few days of starter maturity. The results were always the same: Dense bricks, hard as a rock and as sour as a lemon, that, as you noticed, caused a great deal of nausea.

In January, I borrowed Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I followed his method to make the starter and the recipe for the bread. It was and is amazing! It was light and airy, lightly tangy and no nausea!

My starter has continued to mature and the complexity of the flavors is increasing and improving. Around the same time, I bought a pound of commercial yeast. I used it twice in January and have not touched it since!

chris319's picture
chris319

My first attempts at making sourdough were disastrous! I followed the recipes for starters in bread books that relied on commercial yeast

Would you care to share the titles?

 

MarkS's picture
MarkS

One comes to mind: Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.

What I have found is that many bread RECIPE books, specifically those not geared towards sourdough, will include a single chapter on sourdough. Typically, this chapter will include several starter variants, all using commercial yeast, with directions to make bread as soon as the starter gets bubbly and smells sour. That coupled with adding the starter directly to the final dough without any intermediate steps and using commercial yeast in the final dough makes for a dense, gag reflex inducing brick.

Conversely, I have seen many bread METHOD books, like Peter Reinhart's, that do it correctly.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Yes most, but not all, of what he called starters used yeast with a 3-5 day ferment period and he called that sour  His SF SD starter used milk and unbleached white flour though which eventually would convert to SD in a couple of weeks and his two potato starters were natural as were that great hops starter and Witch Yeast starter but that was about it.  But it was 1973 for the first edition too and almost all bread outside if SF was commercial yeast then as the vast majority is today as well.   But at least there are places making some SD bead pretty much all over North America now a days.

MarkS's picture
MarkS

1973?! O.O I am holding the book right now. I've had it for years and never looked at the copyright date!

It is one of my favorite bread books, I especially like the Rich White Bread recipe on page 63, but it always did feel a little dated. Just have to stay away from the sourdough chapter...

bread.on.beard's picture
bread.on.beard

Hi.  Unfortunately, from the beginning, it appears you may have taken more steps back than steps forward.  But, you HAVE learned  a lot of basic sourdough techniques. By following Mini's and others' suggestions, you'll soon (eventually) be taking a lot more steps forward than steps back.  

When I began baking with sourdough, I had starter issues that have mostly been resolved.  I followed the suggestions and advice from the experienced bakers here, and my bread is much better now.   

A suggestion:  Don't give up on your starter.  While you go through the process of modifying it, you can still bake with bakers yeast.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

She really knows everything starter and bread. And learning from a good bread baking book, like Peter Reinhart's (where I learned from) is definitely a better way for a beginner than following some Youtube recipes.

When you have an established, properly working starter (what yours obviously isn't, yet), you can use it in any way you want, even make sweet pastry with it, without it tasting the slightest bit acidic.
Karin

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

No, I don't know everything starter and bread.  Plenty of room here in this ol' brain to learn a new idea or tackle an old problem in a different way.  I learn something new regularly in spurts and starts.  Part of it is having different environments to bake in.  Never the same from one year to the next.  All my variables change.  :)  

Also, if I screw up or my suggestions don't work, I want to know about it.  Feed-back is a great learning tool.

Heath's picture
Heath

As always, Mini, you hit the nail right on the head with the over-feeding observation.

I've noticed that a lot of people coming here seeking help with new starters are having that problem at the moment.  Is it due to cold kitchens and slower fermentation, do you think?

I feel really lucky that the first starter I tried - the wonderful pineapple juice starter by Debra Wink - happened to be during an unusual heatwave here in the UK.  If I'd followed other instructions, in my very cold winter kitchen, I might have been much less successful and could have given up on sourdough forever in disgust.  That would have been a real shame :-(

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And we apply our own feelings to the starter.  If we are cold, and the winter is playing games with our environment, we eat and think our starter has to eat as well.  The idea of "cold and starving" is too well linked together emotionally to us humans.  Starters are not human, they go slow in winter, the organisms normally find a way in nature to slow down and are inactive during the winter when days are short and nights are long.  They can't cook soup.  They sleep and wait for favourable conditions.  We trick them to grow.  So we need to give them a certain amount of heat until they establish themselves, we also need to increase our inoculations or starter amounts to feed during cool spells.  

We also have to be careful to not give them too much food when their environment is cold yet feed them enough when they get warm.  The tricky one is the house cooling off at night and warming up during the day.  Clearly those with their starters set on room temp have a bigger roller coaster ride than those who chill their starters.  There is a certain amount of normalcy with a refrigerated starter, year round.  But one does have to make sure the starter is active before chilling.

Getting a starter to grow and gain momentum is difficult when the variables are changing.  But it has to be considered.  Keeping a brand new starter warm is important 75°F.  Storing it in the fridge too soon is also a problem and so is feeding too soon.  It doesn't take long for an overfed starter to spiral out of existence.  Faster than an underfed starter.  If you're not sure the starter is ripe enough to feed, then don't feed it.  Err on the side of underfeeding than overfeeding.  

But if you yourself are hungry or cold, go ahead and eat, there are plenty of new bathing suits to be had when the lakes warm up.   Those of you in the southern hemisphere, get your starters going before winter comes, then decrease flour feeding as the temperatures drop at night.  

Heath's picture
Heath

Thanks for the explanation :-)

chris319's picture
chris319

many bread RECIPE books, specifically those not geared towards sourdough, will include a single chapter on sourdough. Typically, this chapter will include several starter variants, all using commercial yeast, with directions to make bread as soon as the starter gets bubbly and smells sour. That coupled with adding the starter directly to the final dough without any intermediate steps and using commercial yeast in the final dough makes for a dense, gag reflex inducing brick

Then these poor souls come here all confused, wondering why their sourdough is no good.

Do a search on "can't fail sourdough starter" and you will see several "can't fail" starter recipies involving baker's yeast. Well NO WONDER you're calling it "can't fail"!

I have never made a loaf of yeasted bread (as in baker's yeast). I'm tempted to try Julia Child's French (not sourdough) bread just to see how it comes out. I don't have me a flit gun, though.

lizzy0523's picture
lizzy0523

Your comment seems to indicate that you don't know much about what sourdoughs should taste like. Might I suggest trying to find a good local bakery that sells a homemade sourdough loaf? Or perhaps a friend, coworker, neighbor, etc. who makes his/her own loaves and try the finished product? My guess is that when you taste these other loaves you will find them to be tasty and without the nasty side effects of your loaves. There is always the (very small) chance, however, that you are just not a sourdough person and you find them equally off-putting. Either way, you will be able to determine if this is just a problem between you and sourdough or you and your starter specifically. 

I'd put money on the latter :) My suspicion is that you'll find what most of us here have found: that the tangy taste of sourdough is worth the effort of solving the starter problems that we all encounter as newbies (I am currently trying to work my fifth or sixth starter into the usable stage - after many newbie misfires myself). Once you get past the initial tough part of finding the right routine for your starter, it's no harder or more costly than most other "artisan" baking methods. 

MostlySD's picture
MostlySD

The whole process of making sourdough [...] is very expensive compared to making a normal dough from commercial yeast.

It need not be. I keep a very small amount of starter and never ever throw anything away.

Below you'll see a link to a comment I posted a while ago that contains a photo of the mother leaven I keep. You will see that it is quite small indeed. It is fed only twice a week, always with the same flours & at the same hydration. Absolutely no waste whatsoever.
http://bit.ly/1ctKjdC

As for your loaves being too sour, I've been working on that myself. I found master baker Dave Miller's method for obtaining a sweeter dough (as described by Farine) quite interesting.
http://bit.ly/1fmHCWe

Use of preferment is quite helpful to alleviate sourness in sourdough. There are a few very interesting entries here at The Fresh Loaf on that topic.

As many here have said, don't give up. The mistakes are part of the learning process for sure. Happy baking!

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Wow...really unfortunate to hear someone go through so much trouble and disappointment with sourdough, and it seems baking bread in general.  I get the absolute opposite from sourdough bread baking. Nothing but enjoyment and satisfaction. 

The key thing to keep in perspective here is the screen name 'Newbiebaker22.'  Hell, weren't we all at one point in our bread baking beginnings frustrated with a thing or two, maybe even wanting to pack it all in?  I know I was extremely frustrated when I went through maybe 4 or 5 starter attempts.  When they kept dying on me, MiniOven helped me out and with some persistence, I have that same starter alive and strong over a year later.  Of course, I don't have the stomach issues as mentioned above, so there may not be a solution to the problem...

A shame.

John

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

if I took my starter and added enough flour and water to it to make a loaf and left in on the counter for 12-14 hours and then shaped it and let it rise a couple of hours more (assuming it could do that) my bread would be very sour since it is basically a starter by then but it would also be a brick since it would've likely collapsed before it ever got into hot oven.

Let's see your exact recipe so we can figure this out - something is not adding up.  Is your tarter at least 2 weeks old and stable?

NewbieBaker22's picture
NewbieBaker22

Since the many new replies since my last comment, I thought I may as well jump in again.

Going through all of the posts today (even those I've already read) I see the potential problem and how I should've gone about fixing it. Too bad I poured out my entire starter and had the container soak in washing soap (to kill the leftoever yeast), or else I may have been able to rescue it in a final attempt.

I bought some wholemeal flour, which comes in a bag half as big as the normal wheat flour bags (1kg bags) and costs a bit over twice as much, which would be about 2-3 dollars when converted. And with the wholemeal flour, some oil, some old commercial yeast, milk and a bit of the white cheap wheat flour, I managed to make myself a good bread with a nice crust and an acceptable taste, so doing all this I've been doing hasn't been in vain as it has moved me to buy wholemeal flour which I have never thought about using before. I may also have my next attempt at making a proper sourdough starter soon.

Cheers :)

Heath's picture
Heath

I'm glad you've made a loaf you're happy with :-)

Hopefully, you've learnt a lot from this thread in case you decide to have another go at sourdough in future.