The Fresh Loaf

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Why does my sourdough taste less acidic when baked?

Robby's picture

Why does my sourdough taste less acidic when baked?

Whenever I taste test the dough before baking it’s always noticeably sour. Ive tried slow fermentation, high inoculation and  I’ve even started adding 1% lactic acid powder per weight of flour to make it even more noticeable. 

I bake for 40mins total but the bread seems to lose like 80 percent of its sour flavor. It almost tastes bland. And yes I’ve been adding salt. Am I crazy or what is happening?

mariana's picture

What you noticed is true, you are not crazy. This fact actually leads to one empirical rule in baking: make your preferments and/or bread dough significantly sourer tasting than what you actually want in your finished bread.

It mostly has to do with water in dough and water in bread. Flour actually binds only about 25% of moisture, the rest of the water we use to make preferments or bread dough is free water and acids, sugars and salts are dissolved in it. It is easy to taste acids dissolved in free water in dough.

Once baked, there is no more free water in that system, all water molecules become part of other organic molecules as starch granules burst open and gel, binding water, and proteins coagulate. You moisten bread with a bit of saliva as you chew it to dissolve some bread crumb, to dissolve its acids and taste its acidity. But neither we chew and moisten for long for the thorough extraction of acids nor the method is that precise to determine the true acidity of the bread because healthy saliva is slightly basic (its pH is above 7.0, dentists recommend keeping it at pH≥7.5) and neutralizes acids!

The acidity is almost the same in bread as in the bread dough but it just does not taste as strong! From a super sour tasting rye levain and rye bread dough, for example, we get a pleasant, mildly sour loaf of rye bread! Simply because we cannot extract all acids (or salt or sugar, etc) from that bread as we chew it. We barely taste one fourth of it.

Abe's picture

Tasted exactly like my starter it wouldn't be very nice at all. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

seems to be a general rule too.  Lowering the inoculation or the amount of sd starter in the dough will raise the sour taste in the loaf. And the dough will take longer to bulk rise.

Increasing the inoculation amount decreases the tang. Fun how that works.

artisanvegaearth's picture

It sounds like your dough is not fermenting long enough. If you are using a slow fermentation method, it can take up to 48 hours for the sour flavor to really develop. Additionally, if you are using a high inoculation, you may need to use more lactic acid powder or extend the fermentation time even further. Make sure you are also allowing the dough to proof/rise for at least 2 hours before baking and that you are adding enough salt to your dough. The salt will help enhance the flavor of the sourdough.