Acetic vs. Lactic Flavor
My latest endeavor is learning to bake a sourdough bread that heavily favors the Lactic Acid flavor. In an effort to achieve this goal I have baked about 2 dozen loaves back to back and often 5 or so days a week. I’ve come to some conclusions.
For me, it is informative to read that a certain method will produce a particular outcome. But where I learn best is by actually performing the method and then seeing (and in this case tasting) the results. I believe most would agree.
After said testing I know that warm ferments produce Lactic (smooth, creamy, yogurt-like) flavors and cold ferments produce Acetic (sharp, tangy) flavors. And the longer each dough ferments under either warm or cold temperature, the more prominently flavored the bread will taste.
I have also learned that it is possible to use both warm and cold fermentation on the same dough to bring out both spectrums of flavor.
I last experimented by baking 2 identical loaves. All things being equal EXCEPT one loaf under went a total of 18 hr (counting BF and proofing time) of fermentation @ 77F. The other loaf BF for 16 hr @ 77F and cold proofed for 22 hr in the frig @ 39F. The flavor of the first bread was mild, creamy, and yogurt-like. The second bake was more complicated to describe. It had back tones of the previously described flavors, but in the forefront it tasted tangy and somewhat sharp. From this test I know now that I enjoy the Lactic flavor but not at all the Acetic side. I have the same affinity for cheese. I much prefer mild cheddar instead of the sharp version.
If you are still reading, know that I appreciate your patience. I’ve gone long to set the stage.
Now that I know I want as much Lactic and as little as possible Acetic, how can I maximize this? My best method thus far is 16 hr BF @ 77F followed by a 79F Proof. The dough will generally tolerate 1.5 hr proof. The length of the BF is limited because the enzymatic action along with the building acid degrades the dough over time. From much testing, it seems the temperature and times are maxed out. Much more (either time or temp) and the dough falls apart, degrades. If I increase the temperature, I’ll have to decrease the time and vice-versa. In upcoming test I may BF for 15hr @ 77F and then proof @ 82 - 84F until properly proofed. I’ve learned so much from dabrownman. I’m excited to give his high temp (82 - 84F) approach. Should I push the proof even higher?
Any thoughts and suggestions are very much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read this long drawn out post.