The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sour sourdough

christinepi's picture

Sour sourdough

I finally managed to create a starter that seems to be doing what it's supposed to be doing. It is about 2 weeks old. I feed the starter every 12 hours 1:1.5:1.5, and it's all white wheat. I went ahead and baked a loaf (breadtopia's no knead sourdough).

I let it bulk ferment for 18 hours, at temps between 61 and 70 (it fermented during the night). The loaf is denser than I'd like it to be, but the crust is divine, so I'm not too unhappy. However, it's sour (surprise!). It may be just me (I don't like SF sourdough very much, for example). How could this already be this (relatively) sour? Is there a way to get it less sour? Also, I had hoped for more flavor overall, though that might come with time, right?

largeneal's picture

Two days ago my starter was 12 days old (I think).  I figured why not try it out?  Except I just kind of winged it - ~3 heaping cups of bread flour, 1.5 cups of warm water, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup of starter.  I kneaded to a decent ball in stand mixer, let ferment ~2 hours (with a couple stretch & folds), put in loaf pan, ~1 more hour until doubled, then baked at 375 degrees for 33 minutes.  

Sour flavor was fairly mild (kind of what I expected given the short fermentation time), and general flavor seemed pretty good.  Crumb wasn't dense but it wasn't full of big holes, either.  Soft & spongy is best description I could give.  

Figured I'd share that since we're in the same boat (thanks for your experience, too!)  Now, if I were to speculate...18 hours at RT and an active starter means the yeasts/bacteria are doing a LOT of feeding.  After a point they run out of food to eat & will negatively affect the gluten.  Perhaps do shorter fermentation next time OR do it long but slow it by placing in fridge.  

Keep posting your updates - helps me figure out what I'm going to do next, too :)

christinepi's picture

I'll shorten the bulking time to 12-14 hours, and try to raise the temperature to 70 and keep it there throughout the night (I have this bread proofing box that many people are using, but even though it has a thermostat built in, if the room temperature changes over time, the thermostat doesn't adjust accordingly and the inside temp fluctuates with the outside temp, which is totally frustrating--wonder whether there's something wrong with my box? I need to wrap the box in towels at night to keep it warm and reasonably stable, kinda silly). I'll bake again next Wednesday, will keep you posted...

placebo's picture

The 18-hour bulk rise is a long time, which is why the resulting bread is so sour. Nevertheless, with the cold temperature, the dough probably didn't finish rising, which is why you got the dense crumb.

Try a different recipe. The recipe you used will tend to produce sour bread because the small amount of starter results in a long fermentation time.

dabrownman's picture

least sour bread you can make and, if you din't like that, then you are likely to get stuck with too much sour.  Most people just don't like sour bread.  There are other options - Commercial yeast  bread, bread made with yeast water another naturally cultured yeast from fruits that has no sour component, or a combination of commercial yeast with SD  to speed things up and make the bread rise faster but cut the sour.

I have also noticed that yeast water when used in conjunction with SD mutes the sour substantially too and this might be the option for you if you want to use naturally cultivated yeast instead of commercial yeast.. 

pmccool's picture

Your post mentions that your starter is fed "all white wheat".  Is that white whole wheat flour, as opposed to a white (all purpose, or bread) flour made from wheat?

If so, you might be interested to know that starters fed whole wheat tend to be more sour than starters that are fed with all white flour or a blend of white flour and whole-grain flours.  My first ever starter was made with whole wheat flour and was pucker-inducing sour; on the order of dill pickles.  And it wasn't too effective at leavening my bread, either.  Since then, I have made another starter using all whole wheat flour and had an entirely different experience.  The starter produced breads with a pleasant tang and plenty of loft.  

It all has to do with the particular microbiota that inhabits your starter.  You can influence that by what you feed it, and when, and at what temperatures.  

As a generalization, whole-grain flours have a greater capacity for acid production and will often lead to a more sour starter than one that is fed primarily white flours.


christinepi's picture

no whole wheat anywhere. After I had a little more of the bread, it kind of started growing on me. It's not really all that sour, and definitely a lot more interesting than the bread made with the same recipe but baked with yeast instead of sd starter. So I'm not at all unhappy any more. The density is still a bit of a factor, but flavor is good.

But it's interesting to read that the whole wheat starter would be more sour. I'll stay away from that then!