The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What happened to SOUR in dough?

erickspades's picture
erickspades

What happened to SOUR in dough?

I've read dozens of ways to increase the sourness of your  sourdough, as well as other posts on FL.  I don't know if half of them work based on my experience.  As we all know, the nature of yeast/leavened breads is quite dynamic.

My sourdough is coming out less sour, without any apparent changes.  Same recipe, same flour, same controlled environment, same process, etc.  I've always fed my room temp starter thrice daily.

I am wondering if anyone has experienced such, and/or, what changes were brought forth to increase sourness.

I live in bay area, and while the climate is 30° cooler than previous months, my house is set at the same temp, rain or shine.

Could covering your starter have an effect, decreasing sourness?  Also, I've always bulk fermented 5-7 hours, and have always performed a cold retard for 12 hours.  I've tried 17 hours with no luck.  My starter always triples, etc.  I don't think that it matters that my starter is 95% bf, 5% rye.  Again, I always achieved the same level of sour until recently.

Has anyone experienced similar?  Your experiences would be appreciated.  Thank you.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

explained here:

https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62064/want-more-sour

https://truesourdough.com/best-temperature-for-proofing-sourdough-full-guide-how-to/

https://truesourdough.com/18-ways-to-make-sourdough-bread-more-or-less-sour/

Bottom lines: it has as much to do with the temp of the bulk and the proof as it does the starter and levain.

The first two links go into theory. if you want to skip to the quick/dirty answers, that's the third link.

Enjoy!

erickspades's picture
erickspades

that's how long I tried some of the techniques in your third link, without any increase in tang.

That's why I believe it's dynamic.  I have found the opposite to be true of some google searches. 

I guess I was trying to see if anyone has experienced this, and the remedy they had to return to the sour state...

Thanks for the links.  I've probably read them all before.  I've come short of head explosion several times.

I'll keep trying!

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

"I've always fed my room temp starter thrice daily"

A sure way to keep the tang away! 

erickspades's picture
erickspades

so i've been told; however, the same 2yo starter that made my bread tangy before, is not now.  I am not sure it is the starter - it's always been fed three times a day, and the bread was quite tangy.

have you actually experimented to see if a starter fed three times per day makes less tangy bread?

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Of the the bigger picture. While feeding a starter more often will make it less tangy one also has to consider the flour, temperature, feeding ratio, level of fermentation and how it's used in the dough. 

You could, I suppose, feed 1:1:1 and keep it warm so it ferments faster, peaks and it's allowed to build up acids with enough time for 3 feeds. 

If it's fed at a higher ratio and it's a bit cooler so when it comes to the next feed it's young instead of mature it's going to keep it mellow. 

Then there's the hydration to consider. A wet starter ferments faster. And then there's the flour. Durum flour doesn't produce tang. Etc. 

There's a lot to consider and tbh you haven't delved enough info how the original starter was maintained and how you keep yours. But in my own experience if I do one levain build and make sure to use it when mature I get a lovely tang. If I do a few builds (I rarely do this) it does get more mellow.

This is a nice recipe. 

erickspades's picture
erickspades

lies in that I haven't changed a thing.  When my daughter told me last night that my bread wasn't tangy like before, I almost banged my head with the tomato I had in my hand.

But yes, I have tried a stiff starter, without a noticeable change.  It could drive you crazy.  Just four ingredients with a multitude of  variables.

It took me time to master an open crumb, thanks mainly to posts on FL.  It took me a while to master a wonderful ear.  It took me a while to master the oven spring with my operational constraints.  Now, that it all came together, I lost tang!  haha  I'm laughing because I don't want my wife to see me crying.

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Include some wholegrain in you starter. Feed 1:5:5 allow it to peak and then refrigerate. When it comes to baking take some off to build a levain and use some wholegrain. Do not use the levain till it is very active, has peaked and has getting a lovely aroma. Push the ferment in the final dough. 

No need to feed your starter three times a day. Keep it in the fridge, don't build too much, and keep dipping into it till it runs low or it begins to produce hooch (in which case stir it back in). When it runs low or it begins to produce hooch take it out and feed it again etc. 

Try the recipe I've sent you. I always get great flavour from it. 

erickspades's picture
erickspades

hmm, i didn't see the link before.

If the sourdough culture in the recipe you linked is 100% hydration, this recipe has a total hydration of 66%.  I've been baking 81% hydration loaves for the past year.  

I will indeed try it. I'll start today, I'll keep you posted and let you know how it turns out. It will definitely be interesting!

Thanks for the recipe and starter recommendations.  I keep starter at room temp because I bake one loaf about 5 times a week...

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Then have a rethink on how to maintain your starter to enable baking 5 times a week. But first let's see what you think of the recipe as a side experiment. I do have another idea actually but one step at a time. Looking forward to the results. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

If the output has changed, then at least one of the inputs or processes has changed.

First tricky part: over time, consistent inputs/processes (ie, feeding amounts and schedule) when maintenance-feeding a starter can still bring about a change in the starter if said inputs/processes are not what the starter needs _to maintain equilibrium_.

Are you now using more, or less, whole grain than before to maintenance feed your starter? Whole grain feedings bring in new yeast and LAB, such that high ratio maintenance feedings eventually change the dominant strains of yeast and LAB.  White/refined flour allows better continuation of strains in the culture.  

You may not have changed anything on your part, but your starter may have changed itself slowly over time because it wasn't getting fed what or when it needed.

second tricky part: ".... I haven't changed a thing."   

Of the three top stumbling blocks I've seen on TFL, false notions of "equivalency" is one of them. (Use of top/broiler heating elements and convection cooking are the other two.)

Examples of false notions of equivalency often involve water, brands of flour, and types of flour.

Moved to a different house?  Your tap water is now different.

Filtered water (home filtered or store-bought)  is different than bottled spring water.

Did your municipal water supply change anything in their water treatment?

Seasons changed?  Flour now has either more or less moisture, and room-temp ferment either slows down or speeds up.

Changed brands of AP or Bread flour? Is the new one malted (or un-malted) the same as the previous brand?  Is the bleached versus unbleached treatment the same? Is the bromated versus unbromated treatment the same?

Lots of things to consider.

erickspades's picture
erickspades

I think, that although I haven't changed anything, the starter is acting differently regardless.  As you state, maybe my starter has changed itself, which was my conclusion.  I wanted to see if anyone had gone through same and how they 'fixed' it.

I'm going to start with fewer feedings per Abe.  The bread is good, just not sour, as we are accustomed.  Also, we shall see if it affects my present crumb, which I'm very happy with at the moment.

Thanks for the thoughts.

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

It's one part of the the bigger picture. While feeding a starter more often will make it less tangy one also has to consider the flour, temperature, feeding ratio, level of fermentation and how it's used in the dough.

...and why stop there, right? He also has two other shots to develop tang: The levaining agent built from the starter and the final dough itself.

We *do* know that exhausting food for yeast = tang. Somewhere along the way, something has to be "over-proofed."

I would try exhausting the levain (if he's using one). You know, to keep the mold down and health up in the starter. Which is nice.

[EDIT: I retract the above stricken paragraphs. After some reading and thinking, the long, cold proof (retard) seems to be the key to sour per dabrownman. He knows sour.]

We also know that when the original poster, erickspades, (or anyone) says, "in my own experience," that's a key phrase and the only thing that matters.

Now, he has to push the button that says, "More Tang."

That's starving the yeast the long, cold proof right? 

Murph

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

How one treats their starter and how it is used within the dough and by extension the levain too. Starter is a pre-ferment which is ongoing. A levain is an off shoot starter that all goes into the final dough and leavens the bread. Same principle applies. One can have a young sweet levain or a more mature levain. That is part of the bigger picture. 

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

This took a while to wrap my head around. It's all starter...

Starter = starter

Levain = "starter"

Dough = "starter"

It's all fermenting four and water. Being treated differently for different purposes. The first one you keep. The other two you eat after baking.

They all rise and fall. At different times. With different characteristics. As you see fit.

Just different knobs and buttons you can manipulate on different machines. Its really pretty cool.

That's why I have to remind myself to don't over-think this stuff. Just get in there and bake something and see what happens.

Murph

phaz's picture
phaz

By George I think he's getting it. In the decade or so I've been in and out of here, I've only heard this from 2 people - I happen to be the other 1. Enjoy! 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I hope I'm not "preaching to the converted", but I'll park this here anyway."FermentationTIME, TEMPERATURE, AND HYDRATION

The factors we monitor to control bacterial activity in bread dough are the same as for controlling yeast activity. As the time of fermentation increases, the level of bacteria increases—to a point. When all the sugars in dough are used up, or when the acids from fermentation become too concentrated, the bacteria begin to die, but as long as fresh food and water are available and you don’t wait too long, populations of bacteria increase. The speed at which they increase, though, is slow compared to yeast. Dough made from manufactured yeast generally must be fermented at least 3–4 hours to allow enough time for lactic bacteria to accumulate and contribute acids for flavor development.

Homofermentative bacteria increase dramatically between 70°F/21°C and 90°F/32°C. Heterofermentative bacteria thrive when the temperature is cooler—50–65°F/10-18°C. So higher temperatures during bulk fermentation and proofing tend to increase homofermentative bacteria and their primary by-product, which is mild lactic acid. Conversely, if we reduce the ambient temperature during fermentation, we increase the numbers of heterofermentative bacteria, which produce both lactic and the sharper- flavored acetic acid. Higher temperatures produce a milder taste, while lower temperatures tend to create a more sour flavor profile.

Water levels in the dough also affect bacterial activity. Homofermentative bacteria prefer dough that is wet, so adding water to a dough increases their number. Heterofermentative bacteria do better in drier environments, so reducing the water content of dough or pre-ferment leads to an increase in their number and the quantity of acetic acid they produce."

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Gavin

 

erickspades's picture
erickspades

So in the hot summer months, I was able to achieve a sour bread, seemingly contradicting the statement from DTD's book.  However, again, from my own experience, it appears that you and I can follow a recipe verbatim in the same environment, and have two different products.  You should get a few pennies royalty because I plan on purchasing the book after I read about it; it looks interesting.  Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

I don't know if three-times-a-day feeding affects the sourness, for me anyway, so I'm going to try twice a day per Abe's advice and see how it affects bread.  Of course, the trick is, I'm hoping to have the same open crumb that I achieve now.

Thanks again.

 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Make yourself a 50% hydration starter with 10% wholegrain. Knead into a dough ball and allow it to peak! Then refrigerate. E.g.

  • 10g starter @ 100% hydration
  • 20 water
  • 45g flour 

When it comes to making a loaf discard any hard crust that might have formed on top. Pinch off just enough starter for about 3% of the flour. The evening before make the dough and knead till full gluten formation. Leave to ferment overnight and shape the dough the next day when it's tripled in size. Final proof and bake. 

Sample Recipe:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66384/very-simple-sourdough-recipe

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

is the Community Bake for Ciabatta over?  it's no longer pinned on the forum. =(

i just posted to blog my version.

Full process and photos here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66463/my-basic-ciabatta

James

 

Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

You can still post your bake there. It's just been unpinned from the top of the forum posts.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/66219/community-bake-ciabatta

Community bakes are on-going and always appreciate contributions. 

Was just admiring your bake. I take it from your TFL name Ciabatta is your go to bread and from the look of your blog your forte! 

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

thanks Abe.  i somehow accidentally posted to this other thread.... duh.  posted back over there.

I started out my bread making on ciabatta some years ago.  really enjoying the sourdoughs now but ciabattas are special to me.

 

James