The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sour Dough Bread Not Sour :-(

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

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!