Is there a way to get the flavor of sourdough without the VERY STRONG sour taste? thanks! Jim
Google is your friend. Comes down to manipulating speed... this article lists all the ways and has a chart at the end.
I bake a weekly 60% whole wheat SD miche that is not at all sour. When I was bartering it with neighbors for goods and services prior to our most recent move, satisfied recipients more than once reported that they didn’t know naturally leavened bread could be so non-sour. Mind you, that was Northern California close enough to SF for SD breads to be expected to be assertively sour.
I cannot claim any masterly manipulation of parameters beyond a a few years of weekly formula and process fiddling, always selecting for particulars that seemed to produce flavors that pleased us who don’t need or want sour flavored bread. Truth be told, I’ve come to believe that sourness is a defect that can and should be corrected. That’s of course very much a matter of personal taste, but I can get away with saying that now that I no longer live within aftershock range of San Francisco.
That will wake the crows from the trees. A personal taste for sure. It seems to me that people eating from the same loaf describe differing levels of sourness. I like to taste the wheat and smell the fruit. If I want vinegar there are potato chips for that.
Caw. Caw. Caw. ;-)
(As a country boy, you are more knowledgeable about crows than I am. -- A few years ago I learned to mimic our city crows. I don't know what I'm saying, but usually they fly over to check me out. People give me weird looks when I do that too.)
Try an owl call next time, they are natural enemies so be ready for battle. Certain people in my boat would see a cow on the bank and start mooing!? I just shake my head. Don
Dr. Dolittle. "Talk to the animals."
I have discovered that I really don't like too much of an acetic acid taste, but do like (what I assume to be) lactic acid flavours. Maybe this is what you are after? You will always get some of each acid, but the general view is that using a wetter levain encourages lactic sourness (and more acid overall) whereas a drier one is more acetic. This corresponds with my experience.
The other side of the coin, and again this appears to be a general consensus, is that a drier levain promotes yeast over lactic acid bacteria so you can get more rise out of your sourdough. So with a <100% hydration levain I can proof my final dough until it is almost doubled in size and the dough is just about not spoiled by too much acid. With a wet (up to 500% hydration) levain I have to be very careful to shape and bake before too much rise has happened, otherwise the dough will be too floppy and sticky. But the flavour is much more to my liking, strong I suppose but in a good way. I have to say, with that type of levain, a yeast kicker added to the final dough to speed things up really helps in balancing rise and flavour.
You want milder? Very easy!
I presume you have starter, probably rye - totally fine, perfect!
You want a mild bread, easy: Make your pre-ferment with 50% hydration. That's all!