The Fresh Loaf

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My sourdough is too sour!

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thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

My sourdough is too sour!

Hi all,

My recipe calls for 1 cup starter and 2 cups flour. After baking, this bread has a real bite of its own to it. Sheesh!

Question I have is, is there a way to tone it down some? I would like a much more milder smother twang.

 

Rick

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Without more information on your procedures and ingredients, its really hard to say. I would suggest that you consider switching to weighing your ingredients rather than using volume measurements. Using weight, you'll be able to enjoy the baking of more sourdough recipes here on TFL and be successful on a consistent basis. Unless you've been baking with volume measurements for years, weighing ingredients will accelerate your learning curve.

Use the search function on the home page to investigate the subject of baker's math. Once you get it, you'll always use it.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And, how do you make it?  Details matter, so be sure to mention methods, times, termperatures and anything else that might help with a diagnosis. 

There are probably some people here who would kill for a starter that produces a too-sour bread.  Maybe you could start a new business selling your starter.  ;-)

Paul

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Well, anybody who wants any is more then welcome to it.

All I ask is to send me a jar and the money to resend it back to ya. I'll gladly ship out a 1/4 cup.

Rick

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Well, as I said, 1 cup starter, 2 cups King Arthur Bread flour, 1/2 cup purified water (give or take), 1 Tablespoon real butter and 1 rounded teaspoon Sea Salt.

I throw it all into a bread machine and hit the dough cycle then take it out when done to shape it.

I let it raise 8 hours (give or take) then bake it at 350F for 35-40 minutes. That's it.

 

I do have scales and weigh recipes that have weights but this recipe doesn't.

And, only the Lord knows how much a cup of flour weighs. I seen it weigh a range of figures so can't rely on that.

And, brother, this stuff is just too sour.

 

Thanks,

Rick

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the sourdough starter?  and how often do you feed it?  What is the temp of the starter while it ferments?  

It sounds like it's a wet one.  How long have you been maintaining it?

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Try 1/2 cup starter.

baker street's picture
baker street

I guess the cause of the over sourness of the bread is the relatively large amount of starter in the recipe. One cup of starter per two cups of flour is definitely too much.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I would say that 1 Cup of Starter for only 2 cups of flour is a lot.

Your starter seems to be a wet one as Mini Oven already said.

Maybe, for such a small loaf your proofing time of 8 hours to long as that will create a more sour taste.

I only proofe my 1000g loaf for 2 or max 2.5 hours.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

to maintain starters adn build levians - the sour will be minimized as much as possible.  Both are designed to reduce sour to the minimum

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

this year. It's over a month old and I call it, Cracker.

I feed it a couple three times a week, every weekend at noon. It gets a Saturday & Sunday noon feeding and sits on top of the fridge all weekend in about a 76-80 F atmosphere.

I keep it in the fridge all week long till 6am Saturday morning then put it back at 6am Monday morning. I generally will bake a loaf of bread on a Sunday afternoon.

It gets feed equal parts water & flour by weight. Whats that, 50/50 hydration or something?

If I reduce the raising time I won't have a loaf of bread. It'll only be about 2" tall in the pan. I need 8-12 hours to get a risen loaf of bread. I don't understand this suggestion. Ya gotta let it raise til it makes a loaf of bread, dontchya?

I'll try cutting the starter back to a half a cup next time. Thanks.

It sure has a mean bite to it.

Rick

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

...equal parts water & flour by weight is 100% hydration.

Putting that much starter in your recipe should not call for 8-12 hours to get a risen loaf. If I feed my 100% starter hydration the night before and use just 10% in my recipe i.e. if using 500g of flour i'll add 50g of starter, then it takes no longer then 5 hours ish from making the dough to baking. 8-12 hours using 50% starter sounds wrong. Can I give you a simple easy to follow recipe? First i'll give you ratios then i'll convert into a recipe:

 

  • 100% flour
  • 66% hydration
  • 10% starter
  • 2% salt
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon honey

 

So for example:

  • 500g flour
  • 330 grams warm water
  • 50g starter
  • 10g salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

 

Method:

  • In a bowl mix flour and salt together.
  • In another bowl pour in warm water. Mix in 1 tablespoon honey if you wish (yeast food) then stir in 50g of active starter. Mix well till evenly distributed and turns milky white.
  • Then add in the flour and mix till loose dough is formed. Don't overwork it.
  • Cover and allow to rest for 30 - 45min.
  • Then at 30min intervals do the stretch and folds three times.
  • After 3rd stretch and fold shape and allow it to rise for about 2hrs 30min (keep an eye on it) in the banneton.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven

 

Make dough = 10min

Autolyse = 45min (max)

3x stretch and fold = 1hr

Shape and final proofing = 2hrs 30min (give or take depending on your sourdough and how warm the room is. Maximum 3 hours - difficult to give an exact time but not much longer)

Total = near enough 5hrs

 

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

**then it takes no longer then 5 hours ish from making the dough to baking**

I would not have a problem with my stater to make the dough, let it double and shape and rise and bake, but the thing with Sourdough bread is that it needs time to develop the flavour.

First the mixing and the Autolyse of about 1hour 20 Minutes , then I let mine bulk ferment over Night * 12 hours * , than shape, proof for 2-2 1/2 hours , than bake.

Of course the time that I spend to knead the dough e.g french knead the dough... 

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Without it over proofing? Mine would definitely over proof in 12hrs then it won't rise after that.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Yes, without over proofing, some people let their dough bulk ferment even longer.

I think you can not over proof on bulk fermentation, maybe I am wrong, but i gone much longer and my bread still rises beautiful.

It is the final proof where you have to be careful not to under or over proof.

You said you feed your Starter , let it peek and than put in the fridge for storage.

When you decide you want to bake a bread, how do you proceed with your Starter that is in the fridge?

I am just asking because you need to feed it about 2- 3 times in  12 hours intervals before it has the strength to leaven a bread because the yeast is still sleepy from the cold in the fridge.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

I have a method which works but don't know the whole process. So I follow a recipe which says do this, this and this etc but don't know the whole lingo and what each process does. i.e. I know how to drive the car but don't know what goes on in the engine. I have followed, up till now, pretty much one single formula which works. So when it comes to discussing autolyse and bulk fermentation the how, why and wherefore i'm still a learner. I have been given a book about baking bread which i'm going to follow and no doubt it has a few different methods with explanations so my knowledge will increase. All I know at the moment is how to get from a sourdough starter to a bread :)

 

My starter works very well, and comes to life quickly, by just taking it out of the fridge and bringing it to room temperature. Then I feed it and use it. It always at least triples and sometimes more if a hot day. My problem has never been leavening but always over proofing and quickly.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

My Starter is very active too but once it is out of the fridge it needs to wake up fully and usually it does need about 2-3 feeds to get the strength to leaven a bread successfully.

SD baking is a lengthy process but most of it is waiting.

I could bake a bread in 5 hours from mixing the dough to baking, but that would be lack of flavour * for me and in my opinion * 

Also the long bulk fermentation helps if with a lovely crumb.

I am still a learner too Abe, I think one never finishes learning and that is the fun of it:)

I know people who mix their dough , knead it and shape it straight away and proof and bake without a first rise / bulk fermentation, if it works for them and they are happy with their bread that is all that matters.

 

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Hi PetraR,

Answered that one, too just a few posts above this one.. LOL

Here's a copy&paste;

Created this year. It's over a month old and I call it, Cracker.

I feed it a couple three times a week, every weekend at noon. It gets a Saturday & Sunday noon feeding and sits on top of the fridge all weekend long in about a 76-80 F atmosphere.

I keep it in the fridge all week long till 6am Saturday morning then put it back at 6am Monday morning. I generally will bake a loaf of bread on a Sunday afternoon.

It gets feed equal parts water & flour by weight. Whats that, 50/50 hydration or something?

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I sometimes add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to my sourdough batter while mixing.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

PaddyL.  Clayton had several recipes in his book; 'The complete Book of Bread', where BS was added to add additional lift and neutralize the acid in the dough making a bread that was less sour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Too much bacteria to too little yeast.  

Need to bring the starter to warmer temps for a few days and feed it when it peaks out. Save a back up starter in the refrigerator. Warm up 20g starter and let it ferment to maximum gas trapping.  Then feed the 20g starter twice the amount of water and twice the amount of flour or 40g each. (equal parts by weight is 100% hydration) (ratio is 50/50 or 1:1  but this feeding is now 1:2:2  S:W:F and still at 100% hydration.)

Mark the level and watch it rise in a loosely covered tall narrow glass.  When it peaks, ir should smell yeasty, then reduce to 20g and feed again, keep notes.  With each feed the starter should be taking less time to peak and getting stronger with yeast.  When it peaks under 6 hrs on top of the fridge, double the amount of food or reduce the starter amount to 10g.  Repeat after it peaks.

Peaking starters should smell yeasty or beery, if not, let them ferment until they do.  I suspect overfeeding might be part of the problem here.  A refrigerated starter doesn't need to be fed more than once a week to maintain it.  The fed starter should show signs of rising when placed back into refrigerator storage.  

A starter high in bacteria will rise, smell cheesy or "off" deflate and look "dead"  and when yeasts appear and grow, finally rise and smell beery/yeasty.  

A starter that is fed equal weights of flour and water is rather wet and if the flour water mixture is not trapping gas, you see bubbles rise up the sides bursting at the surface, it cannot trap gas and will not rise much.  Use less water so that the starter is thicker and you will then see rising and peaking of activity.  A first peak and then if allowed to fall back onto itself, a second peak before the food is exhausted.

Take out the starter and boost those yeasty beasties!

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I recently got the elusive kick I had been looking for in my sourdough, and it happened quite by accident. I got lazy and instead of weighing my starter I simply and carelessly poured some into a measuring cup and added it to the dough. It turned out to be too much. Being a liquid starter, it threw off the dough hydration so I had to add more flour. I kneaded it and baked it. It smelled good the entire time. When I tasted it, wowee! There was the sour that had been eluding me!

Where I had gone wrong was in not taking into account the water content of the starter. It is about 133% hydration.

I sometimes add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to my sourdough batter while mixing.

What does this accomplish?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

save the discards in the fridge from the feedings, they don't contain a lot of yeast however, can make a tasty loaf of bread.  All you have to do is combine the discards with some fresh dough containing instant yeast, taste the dough to check the salt, shape into a loaf and let rise to bake. 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Why shouldn't sourdough discards not contain a lot of yeast?

But nice idea. Many Artisan bakeries who claim to sell sourdoughs actually use sourdough + yeast. Not true sourdoughs but better result than plain yeast bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

lopsided ones, and if you don't get the yeast count up high, fast, the bacteria will again get the upper hand and the result will be a too sour bread that rises too slow.  Adding fresh dough to a jar of discards then gives the added yeast some food and ups the pH and introduces fresh gluten.  A jar of discards is a time bomb waiting to fall apart because not only are bacteria making byproducts, enzymes are building, everything working together to break down bonded proteins in the dough.  

About real and unreal sourdoughs, check that definition.  

So far, I haven't seen anyone prooving where a  health benefit is coming from, the yeast or the bacteria or particular combinations. ...or particular flour choices.  If the bacteria by-products are essential, then it doesn't matter which yeast raises the dough as long as certain bacteria was growing in it.  Use a starter that is high in bacteria and byproducts, then raise the dough when the bacterial level is high enough with a predictable yeast to fit a schedule.  It is still sourdough.

As far as tasting better than plain yeast bread.  There is a place for it as well, just look at the consumers.  Many people prefer it.  I bake my cinn rolls with it and get no complaints, not a one.   Not everyone has an acquired taste for sourdoughs.  I don't think everyone will agree that sourdoughs taste better than commercially yeast bread.  Taste is relative and being compared to something as knowledge and experience builds.  Having choices leads to comparisons and that is everyone's individual decision as to what "is better."

If a balance of not so sour and yeast is desired, then a faster wild yeast needs to be selected and encouraged in the sourdough starter.  This is done by changing the maintenance schedule or routine to favour or encourage faster replicating yeast over slower replicating yeast.  (or encourage different bacteria or both)   I hope it can still be done, if the sourdough starter in question has spent a lot of time in the refrigerator from its "birth," chances are good it can be influenced to change.    :)

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

that real sourdoughs are risen by sourdough and not sourdough + baker's yeast. But I do not argue on taste. Yes of course if you prefer that taste then so be it. No one can argue on your personal taste.

Yes! quicker yeast proofing, with sourdoughs, will give a milder flavour and slower bacterial proofing will give a more sour taste. Trick is to encourage one or the other according to taste. That is why some purposefully do bulk proofing in the fridge to encourage this.

My sourdough starter seems to be very reactive and produces a quick rise even though I use once a week and keep in the fridge in between.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and keep in the fridge in between."

That's the goal because that is the desired maintenance by Rick, the poster.   

Now you two need to compare what you do differently, after we get the yeast numbers up, so this problem of the over sour sourdough can be prevented.   The maintenance of the starter is suspect to me and needs to be simpler, once a week, and care should be taken to make sure the yeast is active before chilling.  

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

I do allow it to bubble and double before I replace back in the fridge. I don't feed and replace back in the fridge straight away.

Ok, so here is my schedule for the original poster.

I keep a small amount in the fridge. When I want to bake I take my starter out of the fridge and bring to room temperature. Then I need to build however much starter I want to use in my recipe. So I take some out and feed it. Then I feed the original starter. Allow both to become active. Return original to fridge and use the other in my recipe. Feeding is never less than 1:1:1

So for example : If I have 30g of starter and need 60g for my recipe i'll do the following...

1. Take off 20g and feed that 20mls water and 20g flour which is the 60g that goes in the bread. I feed it, leave it overnight, then use the next morning.

2. Sometimes I might use a different ratio but never less than 1:1:1. So for example I might do 10:25:25.

2. Feed the remaining 10g with 10mls water and 10g flour. Allow that at least double before returning to fridge.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I pull mine out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature where it will rise, take half out * save it to enhance my yeast basic white loafs *  feed it and put it back in the fridge.

Works great for me , I guess we all have our own way to do this.

With my 50% hydration starter it is different as I can use it straight from the fridge so to speak.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Great thing about sourdoughs is there's no one correct way. We can all advise but at the end of the day one has to find what suits you and your starter the best. Learn from it all but find your own way. You've found your way when it works and you like it :)

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I don't eat all that much bread. I'm not a bread eater. I'm keeping my sourdough in the fridge just to preserve it but need to feed it weekly, I've been told. I would prefer to feed it monthly if I could cuz I don't even bake one loaf a month.

Actually, if I bake 6 loaves a year, I've had my fill of bread.


I always store it back in the fridge at its peek.

Rick

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I do not let mine peek after feeding.

I take mine out of the fridge, let it sit for a few hours where it will rise , take half out, use it for whatever I want to use it, feed it, wait maybe 1 hour and put it back in the fridge.

* When it has come to the peek when you put it in the fridge, it will be hungry again by the time you have it in the fridge*

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

rarely bakes then this is a great idea actually. I find, for my baking needs, that what I've been doing so far has worked very well and my starter is healthy. But i'm going away soon for just over a week and i'm not drying it out for a day or two over a week so i'm gonna try your method of just leaving it out for an hour or two then return to the fridge. this should cover it.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I've also put it back to bed just after feeding and it started to raise a bit before going dormant.

I didn't like the idea of it raising again after removing it from the fridge after a week in dormation. (How's that for a new word?)

Rick

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Great word:)

Since I let my Starter come to room temperature before feeding it , that will take a couple of hours, in that time it will rise.

I do not mind that at all since I just want to feed it, I take half out, * use it for something else later if I do not bake * and feed, let it sit for maybe an hour and put it back in the fridge.

It is just the way that it works best for me, but there are so many ways doing it.

I must say, a 50% hydration starter is * in my humble opininon * much easier to maintain and can be used straigt from the fridge and does not give such a sour bread.

Much easier to handle too and less messy.

My 50% hydration Starter does rise in the fridge, just slower.

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

yes, it should cover it well.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

now been in the fridge for over 8 weeks now - and it is happy as can be with no maintenance whatsoever.  I bake a loaf of bread out of it every week by taking 4-10 g of it to make the levai in 3 stages.  Works like a charm.  Sounds like this woul be perfect for your 6 breads a year baking schedule.  I call it the no muss, no fuss starter.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

That is what I do , I ust that in my yeast basic white loaf and it makes such a difference.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I understand that fully risen starter should be used at its highest peek to make bread. Question is, should I stir it down to use it or just pour it off, as is, when fully risen, bubbles and all.

Thanks,

Rick

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I do not stir it down, I take what I need , risen , bubbles and all.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Once risen and active I stir it down.

If your method is to feed the mother starter and then take off the amount you need for the recipe then always stir it down to measure how much you need.

If you follow the way I do it by creating the exact amount you want to use then not really necessary but I stir down anyways.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

OK, thanks, Abe. :-)

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Don't forget to always feed the mother starter at least once a week and keep in the fridge in between.

Let us know how it goes.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

OK, just made a second loaf using 1/2 of a cup of starter this time.

I saw on a YouTube video that if you add sugar to the bread recipe, you might completely remove the sour taste altogether. So, I've added 1 Tbs. sugar to see what happens.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

will mute the sour.  If you don't like sour you can also keep a yeast water natural culture that has no sour component like SD does since it lacks the LAB.

mixinator's picture
mixinator

A jar of discards is a time bomb waiting to fall apart because not only are bacteria making byproducts, enzymes are building, everything working together to break down bonded proteins in the dough.

That's not true at all. It continues to ferment, just like the portion of starter you didn't discard.

a faster wild yeast needs to be selected and encouraged in the sourdough starter.  This is done by changing the maintenance schedule or routine to favour or encourage faster replicating yeast over slower replicating yeast

There you go again with "faster-growing yeast" being "selected". We had this discussion a few weeks ago and you had no scientific proof for it.

The way to introduce faster-growing yeast is to add the fastest-growing yeast of all, baker's yeast. It will kill the sour pretty well, too.

OK, just made a second loaf using 1/2 of a cup of starter this time.

How did it turn out?

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

My oven reaches 100 F with the light on. My new loaf is in the oven. After four hours, I see very little raise so far.

I'll keep you posted.

Rick

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I saw on a YouTube video that if you add sugar to the bread recipe, you might completely remove the sour taste altogether. So, I've added 1 Tbs. sugar to see what happens.

Then really, what's the point of bothering with sourdough, maintaining a starter and pouring endless quantities of flour down the drain? You can make lovely artisan bread with baker's yeast with a lot less bother and waste. There are hundreds of YouTube videos demonstrating this. There are bakeries doing just this yet they palm it off on the public as "sourdough".

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I've tried many recipes but none have a yeasty sourdough taste to them so I made my own sourdough. Unfortunately, it's come out way too sour to my taste. I'm trying to tone it down, hence the title of this thread.

Rick

mixinator's picture
mixinator

By adding sugar, you won't know whether any change in sourness was due to the reduced quantity of starter or the addition of sugar.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

I did two things at the same time but if it works, I'll keep the recipe this way so it won't really matter.  We'll see what happens.

 

It's been 8 hours and the rise is just at the top of the pan, now. I think I may need another 4 to 6.

 

Rick

PetraR's picture
PetraR

How old is your Sourdough Starter ?

Mine took much longer to bulk ferment and proof when it was a few month old and with age it got stronger.

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

between two of your posts up toward the top. LOLOL  Born July 4th last month.

It's very strong now and will get even stronger with age? I don't think I'll be able to eat it if it gets any stronger.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Oops, I am very sorry, it is 3.20 am here, that is my excuse lol

Sorry about that:)

thegrindre's picture
thegrindre

Hi all,

Baked a second loaf after adding a little organic sugar and reducing the starter by half. It took 10 hours to rise this time.

It still has the same hard sourdough bite to it but not quite as strong. It's a much better loaf of bread this time. I threw the other loaf away after eating about 1/3 of it. It was just too sour for me. I couldn't even taste the sharp cheddar cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich.

I'm going to try Paddy's idea by adding a little baking soda to the next loaf cuz the sour is still really very sour and sharp.

Rick