The Fresh Loaf

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Want to start a very very sour sourdough starter, what are your recs for one that will make the most sourdough flavor in a bread

nougat's picture

Want to start a very very sour sourdough starter, what are your recs for one that will make the most sourdough flavor in a bread

Want to start a very very sour sourdough starter, what are your recs for one that will make the most sourdough flavor in a bread

Im also starting some rye starters. But I'd like to add two more. Was thinking of a regular white starter and maybe a semolina starter?


JMonkey's picture

There are a lot of opinions on this, so I'll just give you mine. If you're looking for sour flavor, the following will help:

  • Extend fermentation through multiple degassings: In other words, don't just let it rise once before shaping, let it rise twice. You won't get the wide open crumb that many people prefer, but you will give the bacteria more time to produce acids. Two rises rises, however, is probably the limit. More than that, and your dough may get so acidic that it degrades the gluten's ability to hold gas -- i.e. you'll get a sour brick.
  • Ferment at about 85 degrees F: I only do this for the final rise, but at that temperature, many species of sourdough bacteria are happiest, and they produce more acid. I put my dough in a picnic cooler on an upturned bowl, and then put 1 cup of boiling water in the bottom every hour or so.
  • Retard the dough in the fridge or, better yet, at about 50 degrees F: At this temperature, the bacteria are working faster than the yeast, which means that they can produce more acid before the bread is fully risen.
I do know that the French, who like very mild sourdoughs, keep their starters fairly stiff and promote a cool rise in the 60s or so. For my own sourdough starters, room temp (64-68 degrees F in my house) gives a very mild flavor.

Anyway, that's just my experience. I've had the best luck with a warm rise.
dmsnyder's picture

There have been several recent threads on similar subjects. I suggest you peruse them. 

To get a more sour dough, you manipulate time, temperature and hydration as you build your starter and ferment your dough. The starter itself can be kept at room temperature or refrigerated, liquid or firm, just so you feed it to the point of full activation before making your dough.  

How you keep your starter has more to do with your baking schedule, I think. I know this is rather telegraphic, but these issues have been discussed at length in other threads quite recently. 


ehanner's picture

David and others,
I recently did a series of variations on the flour mix to create a more sour, sourdough. In the end I tried your wharf bread recipe and it didn't have much of a sour flavor at all. I get a decent rise and the bread tasted good for a mild sourdough but no "tang". It isn't just my taste sense either. My wife who is quick to detect any acidic flavors is in agreement.

I have come to the conclusion that my starter culture has changed as a result of the way I feed it and perhaps what I feed it. I get plenty of activity but it's mild. In the past I have refreshed using Harvest King and usually keep the hydration around 85%. My practice is to keep 50 grams of old starter and whisk 100 grams of water and stir in 120 grams of HK. Now and then I'll add a pinch of rye. I leave it on the counter for an hour and into the refrigerator. When I bake, I'll pull off a heaping Tablespoon which is about 25 grams to inoculate the preferment.

This morning I made a sea change in my approach to feeding the beasties. For the white starter, I am now feeding a blend of 70% AP, 20%WW and 10% Rye. I will be keeping this at a 100% hydration level and feeding every day.

For the Rye starter, I will be feeding whole rye in the ratio of 40 grams of water and 25 grams of Rye. Again whisking the water into the water and stirring the flour into the slurry, every day. Both starters will be kept at room temperature or greater, up to 85 F. I'm going to fool around with moving the culture to the warmer area and see if the aroma changes.

The blend of flours for feeding the white (which I suppose isn't really white any longer) is a suggestion from Dan Lepard for the best balance of sour and elasticity of the leaven. I mixed up a big batch of the flour blend and plan on feeding from the blend daily. That way I don't have to fool with measuring the separate ingredients every day.

I'm hoping that by keeping both starters out of the cooler and feeding them a daily meal of their favorite rations, maybe they will be happier and develop a better flavor.

"We will see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw!"


I have found success in my struggle to improve the sourness of my breads by changing the method of refreshing and the temperature at which it is kept. A post by Dan Lepard here:
convinced me to try a blend of AP/WW/Rye flours with the ratio of 70/20/10 percents. I also have stopped refrigerating the starter. It is more trouble to feed it daily and if I need to take a break from my baking schedule I will no doubt revert to the cooler.

The improvement to the SD flavor, tang and raising power of the starter is remarkable. Within 2 days I could see, smell and taste a noticeable improvement.
Now I'm happy!