The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Maximizing Sourness?

Chanty's picture

Maximizing Sourness?


My very first post, looking forward to this!  I've been working on a trio of starters, sometimes a quartet, and they're all healthy, hearty, and active.  The one I'm focused on now is rye based and I want to really amp up the 'sour' in it.  My Uncle is a huge fan of sourdough but complains his isn't sour enough, so challenge accepted!  

Right now it's getting fed every 12 hrs in a 1:1:1 ratio (25 g) using a stone ground rye flour with the occasional hit of hard wheat & gets stirred several times in-between feedings.  Tripling in about four hrs. Every few days I let it go 24 hrs to exhaust the food supply.

 I did a test round with it yesterday using 60% rye, 30% hard wheat, 10% unbleached AP which turned out well, but still not sour enough.  I split the batch into three loaves and did a 12 hr fridge rise on one after shaping, one at room temp, and one is still in the fridge for a 24 hr rise (it gets baked around 2:00 this afternoon.) The sour is promising, but not there yet.  What else can I do wrt the starter to boost it?  

idaveindy's picture

Welcome to TFL!

In seeking more sour tang, it pays to know how to maximize bacteria production versus yeast production, and acetic vs lactic. 

Here are some posts/threads to get you started:

To get more tang, and lactic vs acetic:


As I understand it, you can maintain your starter in such a way so as to favor strains of acetic-acid-producing bacteria over strains of lactic-acid-producing bacteria.

But, then to maximize those acid-producing (or specific strains of acetic-acid-producing) bacteria in the dough, the temperature and duration of the bulk ferment and final proof also come into play -- and according to many, the time/temp of the first and second rises actually matter more than what strains the starter/levain brings to the party.

Chanty's picture

Thank you!  He'll be on his own (with written instructions of course) for the baking.  Your link are great, I've adapted a few of the tips & will report back!


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

There is apparently a cool method to make sour bread apparently: bake it until it's cooked but not browned, let it cool down completely, then brown. I guess this way the acids don't evaporate as much during the first bake, and then the inside of the loaf doesn't get heated through in the second bake, so again they don't manage to evaporate. Pretty cool imo.

I have not tried it myself though, since I am not looking for a sour bread.

GaryBishop's picture

Thanks for sharing! That is an interesting approach. 

GaryBishop's picture

A long warm preferment of 1/2 the flour does it for me. I'm currently trying to dial it back. I'm producing loaves that are WAY too sour with a preferment of 12 hours at 29C. 

Brotaniker's picture

fed every 12 hrs? What for? Once a week is fine. 

You get more acidic bacteria going with a stiffer starter. The type of grain does not matter. Bread goes also more sour with a longer cold fermentation. 


arthurprs's picture

I have great and reproducible success by using lowering inoculations. The bulk phase becomes longer, which might not fit all schedules, but it works well.

Chanty's picture

I've tweaked a few things with it, most notably reducing the feedings & stirring it frequently during the day.  I'll do a test bake with it later this week.  The loaves from yesterday were promising, especially the last one in that ended up in the fridge for about 32 hrs due to an unexpected nap.  (Aside, I also did a dark chocolate loaf that is epic...needs tweaking but for a first try I'm thrilled.)


Alan.H's picture

I'd agree with GaryBishop's use of a preferment to add sourness to a loaf  (Assuming that a preferment is sort of a sponge by a different name. I was introduced to the use of a sponge in bread making many years ago).   You simply mix together half  the flour with all the water and levain of the intended recipe in the evening and leave it to ferment in a reasonably warm place. Next morning mix in the remainder of the flour and the salt and carry on with the  bulk ferment in the usual way. You then have to experiment with times and temperature to control the level of sourness.

Chanty's picture

Hi Alan, the bake is going to be up to the recipient of the dehydrated starter & I will (of course) provide instructions to further reap the benefits of the (hopefully!) super sour starter.  I learned how to bake yeasted bread by my Grandmother and she always did a sponge, tho' for a shorter period of time.


doughooker's picture

Keep in mind that acetic acid is essentially vinegar. More acetic acid will give you a vinegary-tasting bread.