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Sour Dough Bread Not Sour :-(

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aturco's picture
aturco

Sour Dough Bread Not Sour :-(

Hello All -

I am trying to bake my way through Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur this winter and started this weekend with the first recipe. I did not use Nancy's recipe for starter, I used King Arthur's starter that I purchased last winter. I used this starter last winter and had some luck with it, I am keeping it in a King Arthur crock in the refridge. I took it out Friday night and feed it, then I feed it again Saturday a couple hours before I started mixing the first recipe a white sour dough bread. Prior to mixing it with the flour, water and wheat germ, the starter was very active (puffy, bubbly and had a nice smell). The loaves I made turned out very nice, good crust, nice big holes inside, I was happy with the end result but the bread itself did not have much taste. I wanted to know if any one has any suggestions on how I can get a slight sour taste to the bread. I guess I figure that if the starter is active, I am getting the dough rise and a nice looking end product, why not the taste I am looking for.

Thanks to you all, I really enjoy this site and have learned a lot from all the postings.

 Alex

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Alex.

If you are using your starter just 2 hours after feeding it, this is too soon. You need to let it fully ripen. It should at least double in volume.

To really develop flavor, you need a long fermentation. The amount of starter you use will also have an impact. (Hint: More is not necessarily better.)

If you give us the recipe you were using and your procedure, we might be able to make other suggestions.

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David

aturco's picture
aturco

Hi David

I guess I thought that if the starter was bought back to life and it shows signs of activity it would be good to go. I usually use a cup of flour and a 1/2 cup of water and then throw out 1/2 of it for the next feeding. At this point prior to throwing it out, it is bubbly and looks like it is ready to go. I am getting the rise in the dough just not the flavor. I guess I will try this weekend to activate the starter a little earlier and then use it. Maybe on thurs nite til Sat afternoon.

The recipe was pretty straight forward. 7 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of water, 12 oz of starter, 1/2 cup wheat germ 4 tsp salt, Pu t all the ingredients in the mixer except the salt and using the dough hook mix for about 5 mins. Autolyse for 20, then add salt and mix some more.

3-4 hours to ferment, knead, rest for and hour, shape into boules, proof in the refridge over night. pull out for 3-4 hours to room temp and bake at 450 for 45 mins.

Again the loaves turned out really nice, just no real sour taste.

 thanks

Alex

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

High, Alex.

Your starter needs to be able to raise dough. That's the work of the yeast in fermenting sugars to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. However, it also contributes flavors through the action of bacteria which produce lactic acid and acetic acid and other tasty stuff.

If all you want is the dough to rise, waiting until your starter is making lots of bubbles (CO2) indicates the yeast is active. There is (to my knowledge) no visual indicator of bacterial action. However, the smell and taste of the starter do tell you a lot. The "ripe" starter, with all the players on the field, is sometimes described as smelling "fruity." An alcohol smell says the yeast is the dominant player. A vinegar smell says your acetic acid-producing bacteria are dominating.

The balance of players can be manipulated by varying 3 variables: starter hydration, temperature and time. Some commonly available bread books go into this and are worth reading for more information. Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" and Hamelman's "Bread" discuss these issues - Reinhart in general terms and Hamelman in the rye bread chapter, as I recall. (My cookbooks are at home, and I'm not.)

If you want to maximize sourness (acetic acid), you might try the following (Although it may result in more sourness than you want, it should demonstrate that you can do it.):

1.Feed your starter and let it ripen until it is expanded by _at least_ double.
2. Take a couple of tablespoons of the ripe starter and mix it with 8-10 oz of flour, ideally with some rye flour and some wheat flour, and just enough water to make a very, dry ball of dough.
3. Let this ferment until it has doubled (4-6 hours, typically).
4.Then refrigerate it for 36-48 hours.
5. Mix a dough with about 20 oz of white flour and 10-12 oz of water.
6. Autolyse for 20 minutes.
7. Add the starter cut in pieces and 2 tsp of salt and mix well.
8. Knead this dough using your method of choice and let it rise until doubled.
9. Form your loaf (or loaves)and refrigerate then covered tightly 12-16 hours.
10. Proof at room temperature (about 4 hours).
11. Bake.
12. Cool.
13. Slice and eat.
14. Pucker up.

Note: The measurements above were on the fly, off the top of my head and shot from the hip. They may need adjusting. Don't shoot the messenger.

In fact, you don't need to actually run the experiment, but do consider the methods.


David

aturco's picture
aturco

Okay I will give it a shot. I have one of Reinhardt's books at home it may be the crust and crumb one.

In your post you state "However, the smell and taste of the starter do tell you a lot. The "ripe" starter, with all the players on the field, is sometimes described as smelling "fruity." An alcohol smell says the yeast is the dominant player. A vinegar smell says your acetic acid-producing bacteria are dominating." Is there any way if the starter is smelling alcoholy or vinegary (prob not real words, sorry) to compensate for that to get the fruity smell you describe?

I still think that the starter smells okay, maybe i shoud just feed it more before I use it. Do you use a "wet" starter or a dryer starter?

 Thanks

Alex

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Alex.

If you do have "Crust&Crumb," please disregard my instructions and make the San Francisco Sourdough in that book. It is excellent.

The starter I generally keep is sort of intermediate. It is fed 1:3:4 (starter:water:flour). However, I will convert this to the kind of starter a recipe calls for during the last feeding before mixing the dough.


David

aturco's picture
aturco

Hi David

I took your advice and tried the SF S/D recipe in the crust and the crumb. I havent gotten around to actually baking the bread at this point its a 3 day recipe. I started on Sat. morning and will pull it out tonight and give it a go if I get home from work early enough. I did notice that the starter that I made from my initial starter to make this bread had a very nice smell to it as far as sour smells go and the final dough had a nice smell to it. I will keep you posted on how it ultimatley turns out. Do you think I have to bake it all tonight or will it keep refriderated for a couple days? I have 4 boules ready to go.

 Thanks

a

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I've never retarded formed loaves for more than 16 hours or so. I would be afraid that the gluten would start to break down.

I hope it turns out to your liking.


David

aturco's picture
aturco

Hi David

I finally baked two of the 4 loaves last night. They were a little dry. My wife noticed a slightly sour flavor but I did not. I think i could have baked them on the second day instead of putting them in the refridge for almost 24 hours. I think the loaves I made last week were better loaves but this had the sour taste, I guess i will keep on trying.

thanks for your help. do you have any other recipes I can try?

demegrad's picture
demegrad

The long fermentation in the fridge is essential. Here is my usual schedule for nearly all breads, it fits nicely into a typical work routine.

 Day 1 evening - First starter feeding.  Day 2 morning - Second feed, Day 2 evening - return from work knead dough, bulk ferment and before going to bed shape the dough into loaves, place shaped loaves onto a couche and inside some sort of container such as a clean trash bag (the trash bag is to prevent drying of the dough).  Wait 1, 2, or even 3 days (whenever you have time to bake).  Final Day evening - return from work pull dough out of fridge and allow to warm up as well as rise.  When dough is risen, bake it.

This schedule produces very flavorful bread. Also I suggest always using some amount of whole grain flour, and lastly don't expect the same flavor you get with grocery store "sour dough", they just use useless ingredients and real sour dough is better anyway.

 I hope this helps, good luck

 

demegrad

http://www.demegrad.blogspot.com

aturco's picture
aturco

Hi Demegrad

Dont you find when you leave it in the refridge that long, it becomes "slimey"? I leave my pizza dough in the refridge in a sealable container and it sometimes gets wet.

do you shape it before you put it in the trashbag and then in the fridge?

Thanks

Alex

demegrad's picture
demegrad

 Hi Alex,

 I will often shape the dough, put it on a canvas cloth (a couche, just less expensive since I made it) then in the  trashbag and the whole system goes into the fridge. I really don't know what could be going on with the "slimey" dough. I usually worry about the air in the fridge drying out the dough. Just fyi, I blow up the trash bag before sticking it in the fridge, the idea here is to prevent the dry air of the fridge from drying out your dough but also to keep the plastic bag from touching the dough and possibly sticking. I think this was something I read in Nancy Silverton's book

demegrad

http://www.demegrad.blogspot.com

aturco's picture
aturco

yeah, i did that and it seemed to work for me this time, maybe a little to dry. I am thinking of just sticking with the no knead process, i have been very successful with that one but it is kind of boring once you master it.
i picked up some duck cloth, thick canvas for a couche any suggestions on how i should use it. i was told it was not treated.

a

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I got one word:  Condensation


Warm moisture rises off the dough and collects onto inside surface of container where it rains down on the dough.  No problem.  Slimy feel is mixture of oil and water on the surface.  (unless it's been sitting forgotten in the fridge for weeks)


Mini

Happy-Batard's picture
Happy-Batard

I discovered by accident the "key" I believe to really sour sourdough. I made a batch of dough, put in the fridge for an overnight retardation. I became very busy the next few days and forgot the bread. On the fifth day I took it out, poured off a little accumulated water/liquor, and brought it to room temp, shaped and baked it. It was fantastically sour. Better than any i have had and a great crumb to boot. All you true sourdough lovers should try this, at least with some leftover dough at first.

Geoloaf's picture
Geoloaf

I have recently become obsessed with trying to make good sourdough bread.  I've never made bread before this obsession, and I'm currently interested only in sourdough.  I have made several loaves.  I have achieved nice crust on some, nice crumb on some, but I'll be darned if I can achieve a good sour smell and taste.  I have 2 very active starters: one with AP white flour, one with unbleached whole wheat flour.  I think my problem lies in method.  I typically proof in a covered SS bowl at room temp for as little as 8 hours to as much as 50 hours and usually get tripling in size.  Longer proof gives more sour.  I then reknead and shape my loaf and hope for it to rise again before baking, but it usually has other plans.  If I mix my dough then bake as soon as it rises I get nice crust and crumb, but not much sour.  So currently I can get nice C/C, or sour, but not both.  What am I doing wrong?


I tried a variation of Happy-Batard's method: mixed a dough, let it proof at room temp for 50 hours (it was nice and sour!), then rekneaded, shaped, and baked a very dense and sour door stop.  If I could have popped the originally-proofed dough into the oven without knocking it down, I might have had some nice bread, but how to do that when it proofs in a bowl?  What am I missing here???


Help please!


Keith

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hi Keith,


Here's how I see it:  While your sour beasties are working on the dough, so are your yeasty beasties.   Letting the dough sit at room temperature is getting your yeast to produce gas sooner than you need it and so they are all pooped out when you want to raise your loaf. 


Solution:  Try putting your kneaded dough in a very cool place so the sour beasties can work while the yeasts are "retarding" or sleeping.  Then after a day or two, warm the dough up to room temp or a little bit more and let the yeasties have their go at it and produce the gasses needed to lift up the dough.  Fold a few times with your hands to warm up the dough and keep a nice form (do an envelope fold about every hour or so after the first 3 - 6 hours of initial warming up) and when you feel it's puffed up far enough, shape and place it on parchment, wait a bit (while preheating the oven or slash & put it directly into the cold oven and turn on the heat) and bake it.


Proofing in the bowl.  Find a bowl or plastic box with lid  that fits into the fridge easily that won't dominate it and easy to get around or stack when fridge is full.  Later, when you stretch and fold the dough, try to keep the up side on the outside.  Most times I can do this folding in the air and save oiling up the counter top.  Shape the corners round and return it to the bowl to rest and rise between folds (depending on the room temp, any where from 30 - 60 minutes.)  Don't forget to keep it covered so it doesn't dry out (tight in the fridge, looser at room temp).


Mini O


 


 

Geoloaf's picture
Geoloaf

Ahhh, now I get it...  I had no clue that there were 2 types of beasties: sour and yeast.  Now the whole "retardation in the fridge" thing makes perfect sense.


Now for the real rookie questions: When you and others say "fold"... what exactly is that?  And "envelope"?  And how does it "puff up" if I keep "messing" with it?  "Stretch"?  How exactly?  And why would you "oil up" the counter... why not flour?  The only "folding" I know so far, if that's what it is, is rolling/curling the outside edges of a flattened loaf down around and back up into the bottom center resulting in a ball of dough with a smooth stretched top and an "innie" in the bottom.


Your advice so far has been very helpful, but I'm still missing some parts here...


Keith

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

No problem, I could send you off to the SEARCH machine on the upper left hand corner of the page where you can find videos and plenty of references or.....  simply answer your Q's.    (We are now changing the topic of this thread!)


Fold:  usually combined with Stretch & Fold   is simply that...  invert your dough onto the counter top, stretch and fold it.   If your bowl was oiled and the top of your dough also had a slight coating of oil on  it, it will also oil your counter top when you flip it out.  (Flour is always an option but if you can get along without it, skip it or use very little.)   This inversion tends to deflate the dough and the soft dough can be stretched out ...so... grab a section and let's call it a corner (fun huh?).  (Tip: park your laptop on the spot where you will be ploping out the dough and after you have read this,  and a few other threads, the counter top will be warm enough to warm up cold dough nicely.)


Now let's compare it to an envelope, yes, "snail mail" type envelope:  Pull one paper envelope apart if you want to but if you just look at it and see how it's put together you get the general notion.   What you want to do is just stretch out a good fourth of the dough and like a corner of an envelope, fold it well over the middle of the dough, then the next fourth, and opposite, and finally the last corner.  There are may versions of the fold so don't get stuck in the detail, they are all folds.   Do it how you like.   Roll it over so the top side of the proofed dough is now up and then proceed to tuck in any points sticking out to make it nice and round.  Give it a nice little slap and decare it folded.  Set aside to rest.  Yes, roll it around in an oiled bowl and set the lid on it.  (Oil in the bowl is also optional, if you happen to have the kind of bowl that doesn't stick, more power to ya. Just don't let that dough dry out and get a tough skin.)


Puffy:  (That's my term.  It might be called something else like risen or inflated or puffed up.)  O.K. As the gas is produced by the yeasts, bubbles will form.  As time goes by, more will develop.  If you take the opportunity to fold your dough several times during this rising  time, the gluten esp. with wetter doughs, will be stretched and developed further and at the same time controling the size of bubbles formed in the dough so they don't get too big.  One thing to be aware of ...the expression "wait until it has doubled" looses it significance because it is now hard to judge what is doubling because each time the dough is stretched it deflates it a little bit.  Better to try to remember that blob of dough as it started out (without any bubbles) and judge the puffiness as time goes on.  As the folding and resting progresses, the dough will become lighter, thicker and closer to what bread dough should be before it is baked.  Each recipe and dough can be a little different so this is a touchy feely evaluation.  Then make notes on your recipe.


You will learn the parameters with time.  Normally there is not much rising or puffy action until the dough has warmed up and the yeasts have been awakened from their sleep, anywhere from 2 to 8 hours with sourdough.  A lot has to do with the temperature of the dough.  The resting time between folds will also get shorter as time goes on so you may start out folding every hour, and then again in 45 minutes, and again in 45 minutes and then again in 30 minutes,  when you feel you have to tighten it up every 30 minutes then I would suggest you give it a final shape and let it have one last rest before scoring (cutting expansion lines through the skin of the shaped loaf) and putting it into a hot oven.  I'll let you look up the poke test.  ok?


Hope that helps you out,


Mini


 

Geoloaf's picture
Geoloaf

Thank you SOOOOO much Mini for taking the time and effort to help me with such fundamental questions.  Your explanations are very clear and written in plain English, as opposed to "bread speak" which I'm just now learning.


I think I understand enough to make my sourdough work now.  I'm going to get it out of the fridge and get folding, and I'll post a shorty to let you know how it turns out.


I checked your profile and see that you live in Linz, Austria.  How beautiful!  I love the internet.  California kid gets advice from einem Linzer.  I've been to Germany a couple times (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Mainz), and Switzerland once (Bern, Zermatt), but not to Austria yet.  I'd love to go!  Thanks to my love of things German, I have learned how to make Linzer Torte, the oldest known (and yummiest!) torte in the world, and originating in your home town.


Anyway, back to my sourdough...  Vielen dank Mini!!!


Keith

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I've wondered, lately, if stirring  a tsp of yogurt into the sourdough culture with a feeding (the day before you use it to make bread) would increase the lactobacillus enough to really sour the bread without a 2-3 day retarded proofing? Runon sentence.

Has anyone ever done that? I might have to try it. 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Interesting to see that many retard dough for such long periods with apparent success.  My references recommend up to 24 hours, to develop the flavour and aroma characteristis of the bread.  I would be interested to see if anyone had baked a loaf at the 24 hour mark and another after a longer period to note the changes between the two loaves.  Is there a peak before the benifits are no longer noticeable?


Personally, I retard the final fermentation 8 to 10 hours that results in mild tanginess without being too sour. I guess it's all personal preference.


Cheers,


Gavin.

Eli's picture
Eli

We have been having this same discussion on a sourdough website (forum). I think the majority of us have concurred that most of our sour comes from a starter that has been kept at a warm temp and depends on the feeding schedule or regularity. It seems if the starter is kept around 72 we agree that the sour in the bread is evident and there are other  variables. We also hypothesized that after too many hours of fermentation it began to break down and starts to have an off taste. One person described it as "popcorn" tasting.


My starter, to the taste, I put a little on my finger and then taste is really sour or to me it is sour. It has been kept between 72 and 75 degrees and sometimes I forget to feed it, which some believe some of the sour comes from more of the bad bacteria. It is really confusing and I don't think that I have imparted any wisdom and for that I apologize.


Eli


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com


 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Eli,


What is the website for the sourdough discussion forum you mentioned above please?


Gavin.

Eli's picture
Eli

sorry, I just saw this post. The site is northwestsoudough. Here is the link and you have to have an account for the forum!


http://teresal.proboards84.com/index.cgi?board=techniques&action=display&thread=535


eli

Atropine's picture
Atropine

I just finished an experiment on temperature changes for sourness.  Basically I made a batch of dough with "Jack".  Half I let sit on the counter for about a day, the other half I kept in the fridge for about a day.  The next day I baked them.  I was not going for shaping, for crumb, nothing else but to see what the temp difference would do.


On the first day, BY FAR the "warm" dough was more sour.  In fact, my mother mentioned that it seemed to have two "bites"--initial and one at the end.  Was the overall flavor BETTER?  Eh, not sure.  And the "cold" dough definitely rose a bit more (though both of them were so gloppy to be more like big thick pancakes than a proper boule).


Now, there is a lot of discussion of cold vs hot.  Some feel that cold is the trick, some feel that hot is the trick.  I wonder if perhaps it depends on the particular bit of yeast you have.  Kinda like how one person gets grouchy in the heat, while another thrives, there might be some differences in traits of various yeasts.  It seems that each of the three starters I have have VERY different flavor profiles and personalities.


I plan to repeat this with Clarence and Florence Nightingale and see if the results are the same.  I also would like to repeat this with Jack, but see if I can add a little more flour halfway through the process to get a better rise, etc.


FWIW and hope it helps!