The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

creating that sour tang/help for work

Karaliz's picture

creating that sour tang/help for work

Iam a Baker for a from scratch grocery store and Iam having difficulties with our sourdough bread.  The recipe makes beautiful loaves and sourdough cannons but they taste almost like the french bread that we make, with the sour taste as somewhat an after thought. Here is the recipe being used:

(mind you this is for a commercial bakery so the amounts are large )

4 pound water

4 pounds sourdough starter

10 pounds High Gluten Flour

3 ounces salt

2 ounces yeast

I have been feeding the starter with potato water and low gluten flour and have been keeping it in the cooler...we make the bread about every 3 days so it is getting fed every 3 days, the starter smells quite pungent but then the flavor doesn't come out in the bread. The dough is mixed and rests for about 30 mins before shaping into loaves and cannons and then into the proofing box they go for about an hour they are baked at 430 degrees with a 25 sec steam and they come out looking beautiful, nice crusty shiny crust and a soft crumb. I think that we would like to get away from using yeast in the recipe and just rely on the starter. So any suggestions that you have would be great. I have read the previous posts on this subject and tomorrow Iam going to try a batch where I let the dough rest out over night to see if the sour flavor develops alittle more. I'll let you know how that goes....but in the mean time if anyone has any suggestions that would be great.

Thank you


Kuret's picture

The sort fermentation times and the yeast definetly makes a less sour loaf. I dont know how much space you have but consider making the dough without the yeast and letting it ferment for a longer space of time.

As people more knowlegable than me said in another thread on this subject; no matter how sour your starter is its the acids produced in the final dough that give the taste.

 Short rise = mild taste

ehanner's picture

A couple things come to mind. First you need to plan to mix the dough the night before so you get at least 12 hours of fermentation at room temperature. You will never get a nice sourdough without using a chemical or vinegar in a short ferment.

Secondly, I was having trouble getting a more sour tang in my sourdoughs and recently changed the flour and feeding schedule for the starter. In 2 days time the character changed remarkably and I made the best sourdough with a nice tang I have ever made. I have tried extended ferments, extended and refrigerated ferments and changing the dough flours. All of those things had only a small effect on the tang. I don't know about using potato water, water works fine for me.

What I suspect was happening in my case is that the culture evolved over time to a mild blend of bacteria due to the fact I was keeping the starter in the cooler. Every time I pulled off an amount for inoculating a batch it had been cold and fermenting in the cold. I know there are suggestions written here and elsewhere that refreshing and cooling should be OK but my experience is contrary. Here is what I did to fix my starter.

This advice comes from Dan Lepard who is a noted author on the subject so I'm not taking credit for the method just implementing it. Here is the post and I would suggest reading the entire article.

The first change is that you should start keeping the starter at room temperature. This way the bacteria that grows and multiplies is the strain that thrives the most at room temp.. The second change is to mix up a container of flour with a blend of 70% AP flour, 20% Whole Wheat and 10% whole Rye. I don't think Lepard specifies whole rye but it just makes sense because it will have more bacteria in the product. This is your feed stock. I suggest you start with a 100% hydration starter. (equal amounts of flour and water by weight) Mix the water at 80-85 degrees with a whisk and generate froth in the starter/water slurry. Add the flour and mix well. Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. Depending on your schedule, if you have time for 2 refreshments before you bake you could plan on building up from a smaller amount of starter.

I'm going to suggest you start using regular water and instead of low gluten flour use the blend and mix it with either AP or the same flour you are using in the final dough.

I have put together a formula that should work for you using a very small amount of yeast in the dough and a much smaller amount of starter. You could do without the yeast but a small amount will add consistency. The procedure requires that you refresh the starter every day and build it up over the 3 days so you will have the correct amount plus some as the mother to save on baking day.


Day 1
: To 1/4 Pound of your old starter add, 1/4 Pound tepid water and whisk. Stir in 1/4 Pound of the AP/WW/Rye blend mentioned above. Cover and let ripen at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2: Whisk in 1/4 Pound water and stir in 1/4 Pound flour blend. Cover and handle as above.

Day 3: Whisk in 1/2 Pound tepid water and stir in 1/2 Pound of flour blend. Cover and handle as above.
You should now have 2-1/4 Pounds of starter that will be active and bubbly at 100% hydration. If you feed the starter early in the morning it will be ready to mix into the dough at the end of the day.

Final Dough:

2 Pounds of active starter (Save the 1/4 Pound remainder for the next cycle)
6 Pounds of tepid water
10 Pounds of High Gluten flour (optional swap 1/2 Pound rye for same amount of white flour)
3 Oz Salt
1 Oz Dry Yeast (optional)

Whisk water into starter and add all other ingredients. Mix for 1 or 2 minutes and rest to absorb water (10 mins.) Continue to mix for 10-12 minutes at second speed until well developed. Ferment at room temp (70-74F) until double. Preshape, form and bake as usual.

NOTE: This is a 63% hydration dough. It's not a very sticky dough, just tacky. It should shape well as a free form batard (cannon?) or loaf. Sourdough id softer when it's acidic so surface tension matters. I know this is a big change in the way you have been doing things on the floor but if you want a good scratch SD bread this is it.

I sure would like to see the results if you try this out. I make this bread about 4 days a week. Good luck.


ADDED BY EDIT: Suggest you try this first without the added yeast. Depending on how long your ferment time is and how active your starter is you could find your dough past double in the morning. You will have to experiment with times/temps/yeast.