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not so sour dough bread, why?

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inkster1965's picture
inkster1965

not so sour dough bread, why?

Hello, I have been making (or trying to) sourdough bread for about a month, but I can’t seem to make a loaf with the sour flavor L My problem; The bread looks and tastes great, but not really sour.My recipe;1 1/3 starter2 ½ bread flour1 1/3 water (bottled)2 tsp sea saltI add the flour and water, mix, let sit for 20 minutes, and then add the starter and salt, mix for a few more minutes and cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a ceramic bowl for 1 hour (78 degrees).Uncover, fold and cover for 1 hour (78 degrees).Uncover, fold and cover for 4-5 hours (78 degrees).I  Shape the bread, and place it in bannetons, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until the following morning.I remove the dough from the fridge, let come to room temp (1-2 hours) and bake.475 (covered with a metal roasting lid) for 10 minutesRemove lid, lower to 420, bake for 20 mins or until done. The bread has a great taste, looks great, smells a little like sourdough, but it’s not sour. My starter is a liquid starter. I feed it twice daily.Its approximately 2 cups of starter, so I pour off 1 cups starter, add ½ bread flour & ½ cup bottled water, mix (with a clean wood spoon) and let site in. it will bubble up in no time flat.I do this in the morning and the evening, around 12 hours apart. About once a week I use a little rye flour and whole wheat flour in the starter also. What am I doing wrong? How can I increase the sour flavor?

Sourdough Loaf 2

Sourdough Loaf 1

bluesbread's picture
bluesbread

Why feed it so often? Leave it alone, unless you're baking every day. Even if you bake every other week, don't feed it until the day before baking day. Your starter is so well fed it doesn't need to sour. That sounds like a joke but it's true.

Another tip: "Sourdough" bread actually would be better named "natural-yeast" or "wild-yeast" or "home-cultured-yeast" bread or something. It's not necessarily sour. But it's always delicious, as you found out! And I believe it is healthier too. And it keeps better (than commercial-yeast breads). So just enjoy it, and don't worry about whether it's sour enough. Cheers, bluesbread

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Welcome to TFL, inkster!

Ah yes, the not-so-sour sourdough, a very common topic around here. Since the topic has been well-covered, I recommend you read around on TFL, use the search engine to start, and you will find a myriad of opinions on the subject.

Here's a thumbnail sketch, coming from a relative newbie. (Wait a bit and you will see other highly experienced bakers weigh in on the subject!) Your starter is a culture, a mix of wild yeast and lactobacilli, bacteria which produce, in the right circumstances, lactic acid and acetic acid. The lactic acid alone won't give your bread a noticeably sour taste. For that you need the heterofermentative lactobacilli to form and do their work producing the acetic acid that is the primary source of sourdough's tang. If your starter is new, then you need patience: it takes a few weeks for these friendly microflora to get established in your starter.

If your starter is mature enough to have a nice mix of wild yeast and lactobacilli, the trick seems to be to allow the feeding to take enough time so that you don't diminish the colony of yeast (which will eat the food they find until there is no more and then start dying off), while at the same time allowing the bacteria to develop and mature.

Cooler temperatures favor the bacteria, whereas warmer temps tend to favor the yeast (up to a point!). Slowing the yeast down keeps them feeding happily for longer, and allows time for the development of the bacteria. Also, higher hydrations seem to favor the yeast as well. In other words, slow fermentation at a lower temperatures with lower hydration, is a possible formula for aiding in the development of the bacteria which produce the acetic acid tang you are after.

(I also find that stirring the mixture at least once during a feeding cycle tends to help prolong the feeding.)

Good luck! Show us your results if you can.

Soundman (David)

inkster1965's picture
inkster1965

Thanks for the help, keep it coming :) I can use as much as possible. I'm following the recipe I found in the bread bible. I bake daily, and in the last month I've been trying to make sourdough daily. I love the taste, crumb and smell of the bread I'm making, but I really love that sour taste.

Is there a specific method for increasing the acid that creates the sour flavor?

I'm searching through the forum and Ive found some interesting information. Great site!

 thanks everyone, I'll post some pics in the next day

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

 Your starter isn't actually 100% hydration if you're feeding a cup of old starter with 1/2c water and 1/2c flour. You need about twice as much flour (by volume) to equal the weight of water. So a quarter cup of water (60g) weighs about the same as a half cup of flour (72g) (and then you get into "How do you scoop?" issues) so a little under a half cup of flour is what you're looking for. And you need only a tablespoon or two of the old starter to get it going. The ratio should be around (by weight) 1 part old starter, 2 parts water and 2 parts flour. The ratio you're currently using is around 3 parts starter, 2 parts water and 1 part flour. Your starter is going to get mighty hungry on that. But with a better ratio, you're going to find you get closer to 100% hydration and the batter will be quite thick pancake type consistency. There will be more flour there for the yeasts to eat up and get going on the creation of the acids. 

--------
Paul

inkster1965's picture
inkster1965

Quick question Paul;

do you weigh your water & flour before feeding? I've read (on this site) where people have a 166% hydration starter, and that seems pretty specific to me, lol. so, how can they tell its not 172% or 161%? I guess what I'm asking is, how specific do I need to be with the feeding measurments?

 Also, my starter (and the bread it produces) are both filled with buddles. the bread rises very quickly in a room that's normally around 75-78 degrees. I will take some pics of the interior of the bread today and post them to show.

so, is it the hydration percentage that causes the sour flavor? I read a thicker starter= a more sour tasting bread whereas a thinner starter= a more flavorful bread, is that true? because I tried that and found my bread took several hours just to rise and didnt have the type of interior I liked.

lots of questions, huh? lol, sorry :(

Thanks

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I set the empty (1.5c) little mixing bowl on the sclae, tare to zero. Add about 2 tablespoons of starter and get it to 30g (add a bit, take a bit until it's correct) I then add enough water to bring it to 90g (30g + 60g water) then add enough flour to bring it to 150g (another 60g flour) take the rubber spatula,mix the whole lot together for a few strokes (not too picky, it doesn't need to be perfectly lumpless) then drop it back into a jar. Done. It takes just a couple of minutes and keeps everything accurate at 100% hydration. It gives me about a half cup of starter (before it grows) so it fits inside a 1 pint mason jar easily with room to double or more. But I know it's 100% hydration starter because it got exactly 60g water and 60g flour.

Please note I was discussing, specifically, the ratio of old starter to new food, not how wet or dry it should be. If you have 1 part old starter, you want to have at least 2 parts or more flour so there's enough food for all the yeasties in the original to eat for a fair amount of time (giving the production of acid a good run) Whether they're eating that new food as porridge or soup is a different issue, as long as they have enough to keep them fed and multiplying.

Now I myself have only kept 100% starter (save for a short run when I was babying a newborn starter) so I can't really say from personal experience what makes dryer or wetter starter better (or not) for any particular purposes. But it is my understanding, based on the reading I've done, that it's accepted practice to use just a bit of old starter and give it lots of food.

I'm sure proponents of dryer and wetter starters can give you lots of tips on why that level of wetness is useful.

As to the question "how specific do you have to be"? Well, that depends on how accurate you want your recipes to be. The more accurate, the more control you have over the recipe and the starter itself.

As far as mixing the starter, it's likely you could measure by volume (2 tablespoons starter is about 30g, plus 1/4c water = 60g, 3/8c flour is about 60g) and after a while of doing this twice daily, you'd know what a freshly stired up batch of starter looks like (heavy pancake batter) and it would likely work ok just eyeballing it. But if you have a scale - and I presume you do - may as well just weigh stuff. What I did when i started was I weighed out a dozen or so baggies of 60g flour ahead of time so I just needed to dump it into the bowl with about 2 tbalespoons of starter and 1/4c of water (easy to measure). But since I weight everythign when I bake anyway, I just got into the habit of weighing the sarter stuff too. And once you have a rythm down, it takes no time to do.

Oh, and I should have mentioned - those are darn nice looking loaves there.  

--------
Paul

inkster1965's picture
inkster1965

Thanks again Paul.

I will rework my starter (it's pretty watery now) and make it a little stiffer.

I will also be very precise with my measurments and re-post what happens to my breads (in regards to your advise) within the next week.

 

Thanks again, I really appreciate the assistance.

Davo's picture
Davo

Um, this might sound really silly, but I wonder how soon you eat your bread after baking. I find that bread eaten anything up to a day after baking doesn't ever seem to taste noticeably sour. It's fluffy and almost disappointingly like rapid-dough bread. (Well not really but you might follow what I mean). I reckon that on about day 2 or even 3 after baking I notice the most sourness. Why this would be so I have no idea; clearly the acidity isn't changing once it's baked. The other thing I notice is that the "glisteny" sheen that you see in the crumb develops most after a couple of days - you don't really see it on the day of baking.

In short, I like to leave my sourdough for at least a full day after baking, and like it best - and notice the most sourness - from there on. (I do use a proportion of whole what and rye, and gather that all-white can dry out a bit faster.)

bluesbread's picture
bluesbread

Yes! Very perceptive and true comment, Davo. Sourdough (or wild-yeast bread, as I prefer to call it, although it's hard to overcome linguistic tradition) does mature after baking, unlike commercial-yeast bread. This goes against the common idea that bread is at its best when fresh from the oven (or as soon as its cooled). Sourdough eventually will get hard, but first it changes and improves (and, yes, gets sourer) day by day. Keep it in a paper or cloth bag, not a plastic bag. I would love to hear comments from food scientists in the group (or references to books or articles that address this) -- what is going on here? The baking kills the microorganisms, doesn't it? Or do some survive and work on the bread after it's baked? Or is this a chemical, not biological process? Either way, what is happening? And why does it happen in wild-yeast breads but not in commercial-yeast ones?

Soundman's picture
Soundman

bluesbread,

Excellent question. I've been wondering the same thing, for several months now.

I was thinking of starting a separate thread in an attempt to attract attention to the question. But let's see if the food scientists catch your question and chip in, and if not, let's try another thread in Sourdough and Starters to see if anybody bites!

Soundman (David)

bluesbread's picture
bluesbread

Please chime in with your views, or quotes from published sources, on how sourdough bread becomes more sour after it's finished baking.


What is going on here? The baking kills the microorganisms, doesn't it? Or do some survive and work on the bread after it's baked? Or is this a chemical, not biological process? Either way, what is happening? And why does it happen in wild-yeast breads but not in commercial-yeast ones?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Have you ever heard that a Chocolate cake tastes better on the third day? 


Well I believe something of a similar nature is happening in sourdough bread.  It must have something to do with gelling (a stage in the baking process) and its ability to lock in sourdough flavors (those by-products of yeast and lacto. fermations).  With each day the flavors get stronger as they escape the bonds that bound them in the bread structure. The flavor becomes easier to taste.  Sounds like that would be a chemical process to me.  But that is just my thought on the subject.


Mini O