The Non-Sour Sourdough.

January 8, 2010

Since I cannot seem to get a good photo of the loaf, I’ll give you the crumb of this bread. Maybe I can take a better photo tomorrow. But I have to tell you about it.

My plan this week was to make San Joaquin sourdough and the La Brea bakery bagels that were posted on Wild Yeast a while back. Neither of those two things even got to the dough stage, but I had built up starter for both. I wanted to use some of it at least, so I decided to do this bread.

100g of starter went into a dough that came out with a total weight of just over 1680g. The taste of this bread is amazing. It’s complex. I think it’s the best bread I’ve ever baked if you disregard the fact that all the loaves blew out the sides due to underproofing.

But it isn’t sour. Not even remotely.

There are many reasons why this could be. My starter could’ve been a little past its prime as it had been on my fridge, being stirred occasionally, for about 36 hours. It could be that my starter has more yeast than the lactobacterium that make it more sour. It could be the phase of the moon. Whatever, I think someone else needs to use the formula and report back to me what they find.

Non-Sour Sourdough

100g very ripe starter
944g bread flour
633g water
20g salt

Mix all ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. Fold in the bowl 20-25 strokes every thirty minutes for three total folds. Ferment over night until double. French fold twice during second fermentation. Shape into loaves and proof. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes with steam, then at 425 until done.

Here’s a crappy photo of the finished loaf.

If anyone wants to take a stab at this I’d like some other thoughts.


2 Responses to “The Non-Sour Sourdough.”

  1. Kimberly Jennery said

    Interestingly I’m also playing with sourdough this week. Monday’s loaves weren’t remotely sour either. They smelled sour, but didn’t taste it at all. They were fantastic, but, like you said, not sour. That was with 36 hour starter.

    Tonight I made two more, after having fed my starter with milk instead of water (on Monday) and letting it ferment all week (4 days, I guess, this time.) It’s a tiny bit sour, but not particularly. Again, it’s a fantastic loaf.

    I fed my starter, and I’m hoping it will be picking up more bacteria than yeasts since I’m not feeding it any yeast since I created it.

    I’ll be watching to see what you come up with. I may toy with adding yogurt and/or vinegar to see if I can get the flavor I’m kind of looking for. Cheating? not if it tastes good! 😉

  2. RDC said

    Hi there,

    Interesting post, and thank you for sharing your opinion. After reading your article, I believe the problem is the lack of lactic acid bacteria (and lactic acid) in the dough.

    Mind you, I have baked today a loaf that also has a very mild taste and just a hint of a tang, so I am writing just in view of my limited experience.

    I have created my starter from scratch with wholemeal flour about 10 days ago and it went through a number of transformations. First, there was not much activity, then after the second feed I could feel a predominant smell of acetic acid, probably due to the fact that all sort of bacteria were captured in the dough and it needed some LAB “purification”. This occurred naturally at every feed, until it turned into a kind of sour smell somewhere between the smell of yeast fermentation and some hint of “yogurtish” smell. That’s what I wanted, and that what I used today to bake. Same as you, I obtained what is probably the best looking loaf of bread, but not much of the sour tang.

    I learned from my extensive reading that the lactobacilli tend to be slower than yeast to do their fermentation job and in my case I believe, considering the abundant amount of starter that I used, that probably I needed to allow more time for leavening (I made a rather wet dough yesterday evening and then added flour this morning for another 3 hours leavening).

    In your case, I have the feeling that the 100g (or roughly 6% of the total dough weight) starter that you used may not be enough to propagate the lactobacilli and get them to generate the lactic acid that you need developing in the dough. I would maybe rise the amout to about 10% of the final weight and see what happens, allowing roughly the same time for leavening.

    I know this is not a precise answer, unfortunately I am still learning and can’t go any deeper, but I hope it helps.

    All the best and good luck.


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