The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

One stage sourdough bread made the best whole wheat sourdough bread !! But how can I make it a little less sour?

marcsababa's picture

One stage sourdough bread made the best whole wheat sourdough bread !! But how can I make it a little less sour?

I found this recipe here on the boards.  It was called Sourdough Guy's one stage sourdough bread.  I used the exact quantities given with whole wheat.  It requires so little labour and it actually allows you to soak your flour for long enough that I think it must meet the requirements of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, but it produces a loaf that is incredibly light.  I am so happy because I have been trying to make the healthiest bread possible out of wheat flour and yet I wanted it to be light for sandwiches and buns. 


My one problem now is that it is quite sour.  My husband loves it and I think we will get used to it, but is there a way to make it less sour? 

 The recipe: 

Take 20-35 grams of active starter and disolve it in 765g of low chlorine or filtered water.  Add to the water and starter, 1090 grams of flour and 20g of salt. Mix the salt into the flour first.  Stir until all the flour is wet and set aside for an hour.  Tip the dough out onto the counter and do a "french fold" or do a "letter fold" 4 or 5 times. Put into a clean oiled container and allow to double.  This should take around 16 to 20 hours.  After it has doubled turn it out shape and allow to proof 4 hours or so and bake as normal.  This recepie makes a 70% dough.  I have found that 35 grams of my starter will double after 16 hours on a 70 degree day.  I scaled back to 20 grams or so to get the full 20.  Cool thing about this is you can throw it together 8 or 9 pm.  let it set until 4 or 5 the next day, shape and bake around 9 or 10pm.  If you make it with cold water I imagine you could stretch the fermentation time out even longer.  I also sometimes give it a second folding the first night if I think it needs it.  This bread also has wonderful flavor as well.  Hope this helps.

Da Crumb Bum 


marcsababa's picture

Can it be raised a little faster with a little more yeast to become less sour? I am not sure how this works, but I found it more sour than the bread I used to make with 1 cup of starter per loaf over almost 10 hours.


How do these things work exactly?

Floydm's picture

More starter, less time should result in a less sour loaf. Bump the amount of starter you add up to ... say... 200 grams or 300 grams and try again.

I bake this recipe quite often and *love* how sour it is, but obviously that flavor isn't for everyone.

marcsababa's picture

I do actually like the bread, but was wondering how to make it less sour.  If I do increase the starter amount do I just have to watch carefully to see when the dough doubles to know that it is done?


I have some more questions about this recipe.  I would need to know if you use whole wheat as well though before you answer my questions.

 1. Do you stretch and fold only in the first 4 hours of the life of the dough or can you do it when ever you feel like it or have time? 

2. Do you you fold until there is a window pane?

3. How many loaves is this good for?  WHat size of loaf pans do you use? I have baked it twice in 9.5 x 8.5 inch pans and though the dough does double in the pan it is a little flat, just to the top of the pan when it is done.  The first batch was a little over the edge of the pan, so maybe I wasn't carefull enough with the shaping.  


Thank you very much for your help.  My whole family appreciates it.





Floydm's picture

I use about 10% whole wheat or rye flour.

I'm sure you can stretch and fold more often, but what is so nice about this recipe is that you don't have to.

No, I don't worry about a window pane.

I either bake this as one massive or two reasonable sized loaves. I've never baked it in a pan, always free-form.

bwraith's picture

The extent of the fermentation progress and therefore the sourness is going to be very much affected by temperature over a long fermentation like this.

The sour flavor can be reduced by leaning more on the early side of the fermentation progress. To do that, I would suggest shaping a little earlier, like when the dough has somewhat less than doubled - maybe when it is only at around 75% rise, rather than fully doubled (maybe a half hour or hour earlier). Then during the final proof, use the poke test and lean shorter on the final proof (again maybe 1/2 hour to 1 hour less time). Try baking it when it still bounces back a little on the poke test, rather than waiting for it to very fully proof.

The long soak created by the "one-step" method with a very small initial amount of storage starter is probably helpful to the whole wheat, at least long soaks have helped my whole grain recipes to come out well. That's one reason to try the method above, rather than shortening the time the whole wheat soaks by using a larger amount of starter.

Even if you do use a larger amount of starter, it can still end up more sour than you want if you allow the bulk fermentation and proof to run to full doubling and then let the final proof run too long.

At 70F, I would get a mild loaf with 35g of my starter in the recipe as specified above with whole wheat, if I bulk fermented for 13 hours to somewhat less than doubled, then proofed for about 3.5 hours. To get a more sour loaf, the bulk ferment would last more like 16 hours and the final proof 4-5 hours.

However, if at 76F, I would get a mild loaf with 9 hours of bulk and 2.5 hours of final proof. To get a more sour loaf at 76F, I'd bulk ferment for 11 hours and proof for 3.5 hours.

The folding is very flexible. If the dough seems resistant to folding, fold it in half and be done with it, and wait longer for the next fold. If it seems really slack, fold it over itself in both directions, and watch the dough to possibly fold sooner next time. The dough will look flat on top and not "crowning much" if it is ready to fold.

Don't try all these things at once, but you could also try using a little more water in the dough. For example, if you use more like 840 grams, the dough will be more slack, need more folds, and should ferment faster and be less sour than the slightly stiffer dough would be, provided you bulk ferment to less than double and don't overproof it by shortening the final proof time. However, you have to be a little more careful to watch it doesn't get overproofed when it is more slack.


marcsababa's picture

Thankyou for the detailed explanation.  I am learning so much.  These loaves have been so much better than the previous attempts that I can hardly wait till the old ones are consumed.  I am putting in more flour to soak tomorrow!!!  Thankk goodness we all like bread.



SherryZ's picture

I made a wonderful whole wheat starter two weeks ago. It is very well developed. I made Italian sourdough bread recipe I found and I think I may have learned a couple things. My question is does it matter if I use 100% whole wheat starter in any recipe or is hundred percent organic whole wheat starter only used for certain whole wheat bread recipes? My reason for asking this is my bread came out harder than a rock I was so disappointed. Now after thinking this through I am not sure if my starter was at its peak when I used it or if it was just using it during a stage not so active, also maybe I used too much flour. My recipe called for over 5 cups of flour probably 5 3/4 cups of flour and 1 and 1/5non-chlorinated water. 1 teaspoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of marine salt I mixed it up keeping the salt from the yeast starter you know and let it rest for two hours put it in the refrigerator for 12 hours Took it out at room temperature for two hours shaped it put it in a towel covered with whole wheat flour covered it with the towel nicely over the bread and waited three hours for it to double I never really thought it double but I baked it on a baking stone the oven with heated to 525° and as soon as I put the bread in the oven on the stone I reduced the temperature to 355 degree. Any help with this recipe would be very appreciated or if you have a recipe or if you can give me any advice I would so appreciate it thank you. I will eagerly waiting for some help as soon as someone can. Thanks again ,Sherry

DoubleMerlin's picture

If you had the dough in the fridge for 12 hours, and you had it on the counter for only 3, it would never get the momentum to rise. If you're putting a dough at 40˚F, it'll take a while for it to rebound to your room temperature, and then on top of that time, you'll need time for it to rise. While three hours might be fine if it was never refrigerated, it definitely would not be if it was. Might need double.