Hi! I’m new here and new to sourdough bread baking. I live in Bromont, Quebec, Canada. We have a very good local bakery and the baker (from Rouen, France) offereed me some advices at bread baking. He also offered me a sourdough starter but I’ve decided to try it myself first.
So I started baking bread again 2 months ago after I’ve decided that no bread at the supermarket was worth its price. I’ve tried baking bread a few years ago but gave up. At the time I was using a very complicated technique I’d found on the Web and it was just not satistactory. So I started again with the basics and developed my own technique/routine) for "commercial yeast" bread. After 2 months of continuous successes I felt ready the the next step, sourdough.
I feel blessed that my sourdough culture worked pretty well at the first attempts. I use a whole grain flour from "La Milanaise". This flour is very heavy and maybe not the best choice for classical, yeast-only bread (it won’t rise much) but as a fuel for sourdough, it was like rocket fuel. I’m proud to say my sourdough culture is super active, works fast, and has a delicate "green apple" smell. I whip it twice a day and feed it every morning. I’ve split it into the "storage" half (in the fridge) and the "active" half (in the pantry). This is winter here and the house is heated at 22C. I’ve also started collecting dried scraps of culture to have a "dried" backup in a ziploc bag in the fridge.
My first attempt at a sourdough bread (started yesterday) ended up in failure. I followed advice calling for a 8-hour proofing of the sponge, but it was already super active after 2 hours, and only added on bitterness for the remaining time. Then I made a mix of 4 different flours, like I would do for regular bread (sifted whole wheat, spelt, kamut) and with the sponge and water, I made a thick, heavy, non-elastic, grainy ball of dough. Stretching didn’t help. After 10 hours it didn’t rise much. I decided to cook it anyway but forgot to slit the dough. Had to do it inside the oven after 5 minutes of cooking -- burned my face due to the "steam rush" opening the oven door. The bread did rise a bit during cooking, but then I overcooked it. Tasted it anyway -- it was SUPER SOUR. Want-to-scrape-your tongue-with-sandpaper sour, 2-hours-long-aftertaste sour. I mean, even pumpernickel has a milder taste.
So I gave it a second try, this time reducing proofing times and relying on observation rather than fixed times. I also used a different flour, "all-purpose wheat flour" from La Milanaise. It’s a bit overexpensive so I’ll look for substitutes. I stretched and worked the dough for a long time. The dough raised quickly and gracefully in the bowl. The cooking went very fine, with a surprising rebound at mid-time (at 20 minutes, total 40 minutes).
I haven’t tasted the bread yet, it’s still cooling down. But I have a question. Is it possible that my sourdough culture has overactive lactobacteria and builds bitterness quite quickly? Even though I work at 22C all the time, it seems that bitterness takes over. Here’s a pic of the final bread: