SOUR sourdough

My first post, so please be gentle.

 

I grew up on the central coast of California, where I took for granted the unique flavor of certain sourdough breads.  Anyone from that area knows what I mean if I refer to either Boudin's (SF) or San Luis Sourdough products.  In essence, it's a very tangy sour dough flavor, and the bread is spongy in texture.  Having lived in the Denver area long enough to forget this tangy effervescence, I recently visited the Bay Area and was reminded of this particular taste while dining in Fisherman"s Grotto on the warf.  I know of no bread companies in Colorado that have this particular nature.  Since returning home, I've spent dozens of hours surfing the web for all knowledge on sourdough baking, and as many hours experimenting with different recipes..

 

I've purchased and started a San Francisco Sourdough Starter from a vendor on Amazon.com, (which didn't go as well as I had wished), additionally I've succeeded in starting a native culture with just water and four (which is my most active, by far!). 

 

I'm using unbleached unbromated flour and spring water from the market.  I add starter, flour, salt and water to a food processor and when it becomes a nice rolling ball I take it out and knead it on the counter with flour.  I've followed some recipes that call for 2 1/2 cups of flour and 3/4 cups of starter.  I've done my own creations with a quart of starter and enough flour to make a nice dough ball on the baking stone. 

 

Method One:  Put the dough ball into a slightly oiled zip lock bag, then refrigerate (41F) for 24 hours.  It's got visible holes in the dough surface, but hasn't risen noticably.  I leave it on the baking stone for approx 12 more hours, when it's doubled in size, then bake (liberal usage of water spray bottle).

 

Method Two:  I put the dough ball on the baking stone, allow it to double in size, 12 hours, then bake.

 

Method One has produced some very flat, dense loaves, Method Two has been the best texture (ie. a french loaf).  I get the most sour flavor in Method One, but who wants to eat a flour brick?  I still haven't been able to acheive that tart, biting flavor I'm trying to acheive. 

 

I understand the symbiotic biochemical relationships between the yeast and bacteria (being of a medical background), and how this effects the pH (I'm guessing I want a low pH?), and I've recorded the times and temperatures of loaves I've experimented with so far.  I've yet to discover the secret of extra sour dough flavor.  I'm now to a point where I'm adding superfluous ingredients to my doughs...diastic malt, 2% milk, sugar, bread yeast...and still nothing but the usual, bland, SEMI sour dough flavored bread sticks. 

 

I've joinded this forum to answer one primordial question:

          "How do I make a tart, tangy, extra-sourdough flavored bread?"

 

(Without having to age my started 150 years!)

Thanks for any  helpful advise,

GreenSpyder

54 comments

It sounds to me like you are experiencing first hand one of the tricks to sourdough production, i.e., lower temperatures encourage the production of higher levels of acetic acid while temperatures in the "moderate" area (below 76 F IRRC) promote lactobacillus. Lactic acid is a milder sour than acetic acid. (I suspect that this one of the big reasons why the Bay area and other coastal regions are such successful, dependable sourdough areas.)

But you can have the fully fermented quality and the tarter sour in the same loaf. Make sure your dough is well fermented before forming into a loaf, and then refrigerate it. Try to maintain a fairly low dough temperature during fermentation and make up. I don't know the exact range to aim for, but cooler (68F/20 C?) is better as long as the dough is showing signs of life and activity, and I would guess that above 76 F/25C you'd start to get bread that tasted more and more like commercial french bread. Also don't hesitate to save some of your dough to add to your next batch a la pate fermente: adding old dough that has been allowed to age a day or five at moderate or even low temperatures adds piquancy and character too. Probably should limit that to 25% of the total amount of dough you're working with, and look for it to affect the fermentation time (shortening it) and the handling qualities (seems to add plasticity.)

At temperatures in the high 80'sF/32C the quality of the dough deteriorates dramatically. It burns out, gets rotten and shreddy, and may well either blow up or collapse in the oven. Often not even worth trying to save.

I hope this helps.

Good luck,

Muff

[quote=Muff]

It sounds to me like you are experiencing first hand one of the tricks to sourdough production, i.e., lower temperatures encourage the production of higher levels of acetic acid while temperatures in the "moderate" area (below 76 F IRRC) promote lactobacillus. Lactic acid is a milder sour than acetic acid. (I suspect that this one of the big reasons why the Bay area and other coastal regions are such successful, dependable sourdough areas.)[/quote]

How and were does acetic acid come into play?  You're right, though, the taste I'm looking for is similar to vinegar on chips!

[quote]But you can have the fully fermented quality and the tarter sour in the same loaf. Make sure your dough is well fermented before forming into a loaf, and then refrigerate it. Try to maintain a fairly low dough temperature during fermentation and make up. I don't know the exact range to aim for, but cooler (68F/20 C?) is better as long as the dough is showing signs of life and activity, and I would guess that above 76 F/25C you'd start to get bread that tasted more and more like commercial french bread. Also don't hesitate to save some of your dough to add to your next batch a la pate fermente: adding old dough that has been allowed to age a day or five at moderate or even low temperatures adds piquancy and character too. Probably should limit that to 25% of the total amount of dough you're working with, and look for it to affect the fermentation time (shortening it) and the handling qualities (seems to add plasticity.)[/quote]

Let me get this right...I should mix starter AND a little leftover dough ball from my last batch into the flour, salt and water?  How long do you recommend I let this stand and ferment before putting into refrigeration (my counter temp is 76-82F)?  Now I can leave this for a few days at 41-43F?  I then make a loaf and let it stand on a baking stone until it doubles, roughly 12 hrs and spray and bake and spray and bake.  Am I missing anything here?

[quote]At temperatures in the high 80'sF/32C the quality of the dough deteriorates dramatically. It burns out, gets rotten and shreddy, and may well either blow up or collapse in the oven. Often not even worth trying to save.[/quote]

Muff, it's like your standing in my kitchen!  It does tend to collapse in the oven, and is too much like french bread when it doesn't.  Perhaps I should alternate between counter and refrigerator, or go to the basement with my operations. 

 

FWIW, I had to leave my starters under a light at 94F to get them bubbling the first time, then left it on the counter and it's been going well since.  I can now get bubbles in the 'fridge. 

 

You've given me some great ideas to try out next time,

Thanks Muff!

G.Spyder

 

Sorry for the "Quick" part, but we're heading out for a few days in the morning and I haven't got it together yet.

Acetic acid production as a by-product of fermentation is favored at lower temperatures; I don't know why, but I'll assume that the acetobacteria are more active at lower temperatures. Remember that acetobacter ferment alcohol to make acetic acid, and that alcohol is a by-product of fermentation of sugars. So as yeast or sour cultures reduce sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol they are producing a food product for acetobacter, which in turn produces acetic acid. I lost five gallons of home brew that way, and not trusting the five gallons of vinegar that I ended up with I threw it all down the drain.  And that's all I know, or can pretend that I know, about that.

As for the "old dough" technique, I don't know what the orthodoxy is for sourdough, but in the kind of commercial baking I do we add the old dough to the dough, or last, stage. It wouldn't go into the sponge stage of a traditional commercial product, but after the sponge was fermented -it would be added at the same time as  any salt or other stuff. But in a sour it could go in with the flour.

How long to let things happen? A lot of things come into play, so the answer is "It depends". Obviously warmer means faster, stiffer doughs take longer, more salt means longer, finer grind to the flour means faster, more mixing (development of the gluten) means faster, and so on. But the "double in bulk" rule is a good one. So after all your ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the dough is doubled you can form the loaf and stick it in the fridge overnight- but how much longer I don't know. Not days.  Take it from the fridge and either bake it at once or let it come to room temperature and possibly grow a little more. You might get a little more volume, or better oven kick, if you give it a while before it's baked, but after a few hours or overnight in the cooler it should be near its full potential. The old dough that you add can be several days old. The dough that you bake wants to be peaking, not in decline nor just getting started. The cooler enables you to buy time and control the sour character better.

I should have commented better to your original post vis-a-vis adding malt, milk, and bread yeast. The bread yeast in particular is counter-productive to your goal, although it pretty well guarantees getting something going. Milk is a traditional enriching and coloring agent but softens the crumb (think hamburger buns) and malt helps crust color and dough conditioning, but again, tenderizes the crumb. I don't think any of them, 'cept maybe small amounts of malt to adjust what occurs naturally in many flours, have much place in what you're trying to do.

Don 't know when I'll be back online again, but if you have more questions I'll be glad to muddy the waters when I get back!

:-)Muff

 

 

I was having the opposite problem. New (two week old) starter worked well (I made up a preferment, and added a little starter at mix stage) good crust, nice crumb and good flavour, but not sour. 2.5hr bulk ferment, 2 hour second.

However, I was tracking temperatures and the mix ended up a little warmer than I intended (26C / 79F).

After reading all this I will try next with lower dough temps, and possibly retard the second rise in the refridgerator.


Take a look at these websites, maybe they will help in your quest.

http://sourdough.com/forum/sour-sourdough#comment-form

 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14719/delayed-fermentation-method-pain-l039ancienne

 

Sorry, about the copy & paste, couldn't get the hyperlink to work properly.

 

Found your post replys most interesting.  Think I just figured out why my breads have

been a little flat this past summer. ( I'm one of those northerners, USA) 

Good Luck!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

[quote=Muff]

 Remember that acetobacter ferment alcohol to make acetic acid, and that alcohol is a by-product of fermentation of sugars. So as yeast or sour cultures reduce sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol they are producing a food product for acetobacter, which in turn produces acetic acid. I lost five gallons of home brew that way, and not trusting the five gallons of vinegar that I ended up with I threw it all down the drain.  And that's all I know, or can pretend that I know, about that.[/quote]

Aceter Bacter only make vinegar when it is in the presents of oxygen.  Lactosbacillus in the right conditions can make lots of vinegar.   I don't think bread fermentation happens in a aerobic state.  Lactosbacillus is what makes sourdough sour.  There are a lot of different factors that come into play that will change the sourness of the bread and it cab be a complex subject to understand.  I know I get lost sometimes thinking about it.  In general terms if you want less sour keep your starter at a higher hydration and a warmer temperature.  To make a starter more sour keep the hydration lower like 50% and keep it cooler.  Now I did read in a book that keeping a stater in a fridge will "kill off" the bacteria that makes a real nice sour flavor.  Here are a few other things to think about that will impact the sourness.  What are you feeding the starter?  Rye seems to help.  Whole grain flour I have heard will help make it sour but you have to be careful as if you wait to long it will get to sour and kill itself off.  How much starter are you putting in the bread?  If you are doing 40% preferment try 20% or less next time.  It will make take that bread longer to rise but the whole time it is rising acid is being made.  

The method that I recently ran across is this make your starter in two builds at 60% hydration.  Make sure to store it in a cool place like 60°F.  Let both builds ferment for 12 hours before you add food to the stater again.  Make enough starter so that it is 60% of the flour in the dough.  Make the dough at 71% hydration, the lower hydration of the preferment will make the overall hydration about 68%.  Salt is at 2.8% and ends up at 2% in the overall dough.  It has a nice sour flavor to it.

[quote=GreenSpyder]I grew up on the central coast of California, where I took for granted the unique flavor of certain sourdough breads.  Anyone from that area knows what I mean if I refer to either Boudin's (SF) or San Luis Sourdough products. [/quote]  I live in California's Central Coast and I even at one time owned an oven that was used to make San Luis Sourdough.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Thank you, LeadDog, for that new piece to the puzzle. Makes sense now that you state it.

I think a lot of people think of "sour" in terms of vinegar type flavor, something pretty sharp and tart, but there are other types of sour too, and it's hard to keep the ideas clear. There's a lot more about this whole subject that I don't know than that I do!

As far as oxygen in bread fermentation, well, I just don't know on that, either. I've heard it claimed that mechanical mixing of dough accelerates fermentation because if incorporates air into the dough. Any truth to that? I can only guess; but I'm a little skeptical.

Best,

Muff

[quote=Muff]

I think a lot of people think of "sour" in terms of vinegar type flavor, something pretty sharp and tart, but there are other types of sour too, and it's hard to keep the ideas clear. There's a lot more about this whole subject that I don't know than that I do!

As far as oxygen in bread fermentation, well, I just don't know on that, either. I've heard it claimed that mechanical mixing of dough accelerates fermentation because if incorporates air into the dough. Any truth to that? I can only guess; but I'm a little skeptical.[/quote]

Yes lactosbacillus can make two different acids in breads.  It can make lactic acid which isn't as strong tasting an acid as acetic acid.  I know a little bit about this stuff but it can make your eyes water and brain hurt thinking about it.  I work in a winery and lactosbacillus is a bad bacteria to us as it can ruin your wine in a very short time.  The oxygen in a wine fermentation I have heard is consumed in about an hour by the yeast.  Then the fermentation goes anaerobic.  Same thing could be happening in dough but I would be just guessing.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Over the last two weeks I've tried different techniques, here they are, and the outcomes.

 

First off, I have to say, I don't see my starters as active as some pictures online.  I get a great smell, and some good bubbling on the surface, but none of my starters have yet to double in size, despite feedings every 12 hrs on a 78F counter over 4 days.  I've gotten some good hooch production from the refrigerated samples, though, and have have poured it off and saved it, more on that later.

 

Last week I added four and water to the starter (in a 1 qt jam jar with cellophane plastic wrap under a metal screw on ring), without pouring any out, to make a sponge.  I had approx 3/4 qts of starter and added salt and flour until it felt right after kneeding it.  I put it in the 'fridge for 2 days, then left it on a baking stone for 12 hrs and baked it.  It fell in the oven and became a semi-sour flavored flour brick.  Not the flavor or consistency I wanted.  Looking back, I think I may have worn out the gluten.

 

Tonight I tried two different loaves.  I returned to the recommended quantities of ingredients on both.  100 flour, 50 bottled spring water, 40 starter and 2 salt, all measured on a scale for both. 

 

The first loaf I put 2/3 of the dough ball in the 'fridge (42F), and left 1/3 on the stone (78F) for 10 hrs.  Then I combined them, kneeding them together, then left them to rise on the counter for 2 hrs.  Then I baked it.

 

The second loaf I "experimented" with.  Figuring that high acetic acid levels were what I needed, I poured off hooch and saved it in a separate jar from other refrigerated starters, and added flour and water to accelerate the "acetobacter" organism culture.  I followed the above mixture, but instead of spring water, I used half hooch (saved from earlier starters) and half water.  I thought the hooch would be converted into acetic acid rapidly and become tart tasting.  I left the dough ball on the counter for 3 hrs to ferment, then into the 'fridge for another 7 hrs to chill.  I took it out, let it rise on the baking stone for 2 hrs, and baked it.

 

Results...The first loaf was average in taste, nothing tart, but with an excellent texture.  I finally got over killing my gluten, I guess.  The second loaf was just like the first.

 

I removed portions of the two loaves just before baking, combined in a zip-lock bag, and will save this in the 'fridge as mother dough for next weeks experiment (thanks Muff!!!).  I havn't used that technique yet.  [b][i]I still haven't achieved the TART flavor I'm seeking.[/i][/b]  Hopefully I'll get better results using a mother dough sample next week.

G.Spyder

 

EDIT:

Is what I'm looking for a "Type II Sourdough" method?  More of an industrialized product that I'll never be able to duplicate without expensive machines?  Is it possible to get tart flavor from a countertop & oven, "Type I Sourdough"?  I"ve read a few posts from people who've gotten their bread "too sour".  Please feel free to PM or email me and share your experiences.

 

LeadDog, I grad'd Santa Maria HS in '77, and UCSB in '81.  "Sup HomeBoy?

 I have gotten the nice sour by following the directions in these posts.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19237/san-francisco-sourdough-dimuzio-f...

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12217/dimuzio039s-san-francisco-sourdough

Green Spyder born and raised in Paso Robles.  Went to Allen Hancock in 1999/2000 to learn a new career.  It is a small world sometimes.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

So I made two more loaves this weekend, two in addition the the two I mentioned above, for a total of 4 loaves this weekend.

 

On these, I had a lot of really good starter, more than the recipe called for, so after I put the fresh mixed dough ball on the counter (80f) in a bowl, I poured the rest of the starter over the top and let it rest that way for 4 hours.  Eventually this became one with the doughball, so I let it rest in the 'fridge for 12 hrs, let it stand for 3-4 hrs then baked it.  This resulted in another very average loaf that wasn't all that sour, and was rather dense of crumb, and heavy for it's size.

 

I've noticed that most of my loaves have looked like blobs of wet dough that got baked.  Curious about whether I'm making my dough too wet, I used as much flour as would allow a dough ball without falling apart (4th loaf), then sprayed a little distilled water to get a nice feeling dough back.  With the extra flour, it didn't rise noticably on the first rise or in the refrigerator, then barely noticable on the last 3 hr rise on the counter.  The results were another very average tasting loaf that was dense and heavy.

 

I've been using the bread blade with my (antique) food processor, adding an ingredient in grams, then zeroing the scale and adding the next.  I usually get a good ball rotating around the mixing bowl before all the water has been added, this may be due to the batter-like consistency of my starter.  Then I knead it on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes, let it sit for 3 hrs, into the 'fridge for 10-12 hrs, then onto the counter for another 2-3 hrs (I skipped this step once, went from 'fridge to oven, but it didn't make any difference).  I've also taken to adding prior mother dough in the first mix, then removing it before baking, but this hasn't made any noticable difference either.

 

I'm disgusted and exhausted at my inability to make a decent "fluffy" loaf, like the pros make, but also the lack of sourness.  I've tried changing rising times, refrigerator times, second rise times, amounts of ingredients and mixing methods.  I guess it's time to relegate the starter to the back of the 'fridge, to weekly feedings while go back to really nice, successful french bread loaves.  Too bad, I didn't think the learning curve was so steep for such a basic bread.

 

Thanks to all for your suggestions.

 

 

What a difference a week makes..........

 

Aside from totally bombing out on new wheat bread and french bread variations, I got lucky with a sourdough loaf this weekend.

 

After refreshing my (local) starter three times in a day, I used the suggested 100:50:40:2 ratios with 400 grams of flour.  I included some mother dough thats about 3 weeks old now.  This sat on a 78F countertop for 5 hrs, then went into a 40F cooler for another 17 hrs.  It came out and sat on a 76F countertop for 2 hrs to warm up, then I did something different.

 

I've been fascinated by the notion (that I learned on this web site) that flour can "wear out".  I think this may have been the problem with my last sourdough loaves.  This time I took the doughball from the 'fridge and let it warm for 2 hrs on the 76F counter.  Then I kneaded in an ounce of distilled water with wet hands, then floured my hands and counter and worked in a small handful of flour, and repeated this once more until it felt right.  I thought the extra flour would refresh the doughball and give a lighter crumb.

 

My area has been 10-12% humidity over the last 6 months, and the skin of my rising doughballs seem to get hard enough to constrict the expansion of the inner doughball (I think).  Spraying water only makes the doughball a muddy mess.  So I tried a techinique I learned from french loaf baking...paint on an egg white/water mix to control the direction of rise.  I whipped the white of an egg with 15ml water and painted the top of the loaf with a pastry brush.  After "refreshing" the doughball as described above, I put it on a baking stone and painted the entire loaf to allow it to rise unrestricted.  Ten minutes later I repeated this brushing, but only on the very top, where I want exapnsion to occur, and I repeated this every hour thereafter for about 4 hrs, the time it took to double in size.  I painted the top again and put into 450F, sprayed oven (not bread) with water bottle and dropped 3 ice cubes on the oven floor, repeated again in 10 minutes, then let it bake the rest of it's 30 total minutes.

 

The Results:  WOW...best crumb ever.  Very light and "french-bread-ish".  I WAS wearing out my gluten.  The crust was excellent.  The egg white/water mix really controlled the expansion, so I had a very tall loaf of bread with a golden, crispy, blistery crust.  It's still not tart, like I'm hoping for, but I couldn't ask for a better loaf consistency.  Maybe the tart, tangy taste will come with starter/mother dough maturity, or maybe I'll try working some white vinegar into my loaf next week...?

This week I made a few more loaves.  On one I added white vinegar instead of distilled water with flour on the last knead before the final rise.  One can barely taste the difference (compared to the control loaf), so this isn't the answer to extra tangy sourdough, either.

I am a beginner to all this, so take this with a grain of salt (maybe 0.1% haha). I have done a lot of reading though so I have a few ideas for you based on my limited commercial yeast breads. Here are some things I noticed (in no particular order):

1. You let the dough rise on the baking stone to rise. This means that the stone will not heat up before you put it in the oven. You will lose a lot of oven spring this way as well as the more consistent heating the baking stone is meant for. It is better to let it proof in a linen lined basket or a banneton and then flip it out and score it quickly before transferring to the oven. If you don't want to use a basket, there are a couple of options that come to mind. First, you could put parchment paper underneath and let it rise on a peel (or back of a sheet pan). Then just slide the dough onto the stone, parchment paper and all. Second, you could let it rise on a sheet pan and put the pan on the stone.

2. If you use the food processor for bread, the metal blade is better. I think the dough blade is more for pastry dough (with less flour too). Also add the water faster. You only need to process for a minute, then very little hand kneading is needed. Just enough to shape it.

3. Stir in the hooch each time to keep the starter at the desired hydration.

4. Your process sounds more complicated than it needs to be. Try a longer ferment. Skip the kneading by using the autolyse then hourly folds method. Then shape and put it in the refrigerator. Pull it out while your oven heats, then transfer, slash, and bake. This will really help with the flavor. This is great with the higher hydration dough you want for the SF sourdough experience.

I have to run, but I might have some more ideas later. BTW, I live near San Jose and graduated UCSB in 1994... go Gauchos!

Just another quick thought on sourness. Everything I have read suggests a firmer starter will favor the sour flavor. I would say to feed a 60% starter for a few days and use this at a baker's percentage of 60-70%.

Also, using pate fermentee (dough separated off from your previous bread...or making some up especially) adds to sourness. Try this, along with an extended fermentation (ie: retard up to 48 hours in the fridge as part of the bulk proof).

Did you look through the links LeadDog provided...and if so, did you actually apply the suggestions in your own baking?

Personally, I don't know what the fuss is about with sourness in SD bread. I don't like it much, and it's certainly not a definitive aspect to SD bread - in fact, most SD breads I've had from commercial outlets (mostly in Germany) and baked are not particularly sour. It's complexity of flavour that makes SD bread special for me, not sourness. But each to their own.

Best of baking to ya!

Ross

[quote=Maverick]

...

1. You let the dough rise on the baking stone to rise. This means that the stone will not heat up before you put it in the oven. You will lose a lot of oven spring this way as well as the more consistent heating the baking stone is meant for... If you don't want to use a basket, there are a couple of options that come to mind. First, you could put parchment paper underneath ... Then just slide the dough onto the stone, parchment paper and all...[/quote]

Preheat the stone?  I'll give that a try.  I've had great luck with parchment, especially since brushing the tops with egg white (doen't stick to stone & get destroyed scraping it off, HOT!!!).

 

I put the loaf in a big zip lock bag and squeeze all the air out then into the fridge.  I roll the loaf/bag on a counter every few hours, and it keeps things clean.  If I leave it exposed to air, the crust gets hard (10-15% humidity here).  I'll be leaving the loaf in the fridge 4 or 5 days this time.

 

Oven spring with sourdough?  I gave up on that after my first few weeks, I read my dough was "worn out".  I've been kneeding flour in before the last rise, then letting it rise on the stone so it won't fall during the transfer.  I've been using the last rise for crumb formation.  (I can see how this might make the taste less sour!)

[quote=Maverick]

2. If you use the food processor for bread, the metal blade is better. I think the dough blade is more for pastry dough (with less flour too)...[/quote]

Thanks!  The day after you wrote this I broke my plastic blade making too big a loaf.  I've read metal is a no-no, but no problems using it so far.

[quote=Maverick]

...

4. Your process sounds more complicated than it needs to be...[/quote]

Yeah, I agree, I might be trying too hard.  I'm simplifying everything this week. 

 

[quote=Ross]Also, using pate fermentee ... adds to sourness. Try this, along with an extended fermentation (ie: retard up to 48 hours in the fridge as part of the bulk proof).[/quote]

I've been doing this since Muff explained it near the beginning of this thread.  I haven't noticed a big difference in taste, might be a matter of maturity.  I've noticed my culture is tasting better lately.

[quote=Ross]Did you look through the links LeadDog provided...and if so, did you actually apply the suggestions in your own baking?[/quote]

Of course I did.  I've printed them, highlighted and made notes.  I've tried several loaves using each of these methods.  It hasn't improved the tartness.

[quote=Ross]Personally, I don't know what the fuss is about with sourness in SD bread. I don't like it much, and it's certainly not a definitive aspect to SD bread...[/quote]

 

REALLY?!?!?!  You don't think the sourness of sourdogh to be a definitive aspect?  You don't like the sourness?

[quote=Ross]... in fact, most SD breads I've had from commercial outlets (mostly in Germany) and baked are not particularly sour. It's complexity of flavour that makes SD bread special for me, not sourness. But each to their own.[/quote]

Okay, I think I undestand.  You're getting your SD from commercial outlets in Germany and are "not particularly sour".  You may want to overnight ship a sample from Boudin's in San Francisco to understand the "complexity of flavour" I'm trying for. I described it in the initial post.  Contributers in this forum who have eaten the specific California brands I mentioned understand the specific flavor I'm hoping to attain.  BTW, you sound like a "french-bread-person"!!!


 

I appreciate everyone's replies and suggestions, thanks!

 

 

 

GreenSpyder, you seem to have reacted very defensively to my comments, which I made in good faith as a contribution in response to your posts. I intended no offence. Rather, I was merely making some observations I thought were relevant. You asked for help - it is surely a little ungracious to react thus to someone responding to you.

 

You may like to consider the possibility that your perception (as opposed to fact) of sourdough bread as being 'sour' is very region-specific, and perhaps even a little insular in outlook. Of course, I am well aware that San Franciscan SD is sour...but I maintain that many, many SD breads - most, I would suggest - are not! This in no way makes them less authentic than SF-style SD.  My experience is that any more than a mild degree of sourness tends to overwhelm the palate, obscuring the subtle, complex flavours I enjoy so much in quality sourdough bread. If you like sour sourdough, though, that's your choice. It simply isn't mine.

 

And no, my preference for less sour SD breads does not automatically make me a "french-bread-person" (sic) - whatever that is. I would suggest to you that San Francisco, while famous as a SD brand, is not the centre of the SD world. European countries like Germany have been making SD for centuries, and I'd venture to say that they are more steeped in SD tradition than anywhere in the States, including SF.

 

Why would I want to overnight ship a sample of bread from Boudin's in SF? As I've stated, sourness in SD is not to my taste, and I have no interest in acquiring such a taste. You seem to be confronted by that. Sorry - your problem, not mine. If I was to pay ridiculous prices to ship an authentic bread to my home in Western Australia (that's Australia, not Austria... or Germany), it would be a classic bread that interests me, such as Poilâne's famous miche, or preferably one of Baker D Chirico's sourdoughs from his acclaimed bakery in St Kilda, Melbourne - not sour SD from California.

 

Try on the possibility that some folk might just have experienced a far greater diversity of quality breads than you and know more about sourdough and its possibilities - and that I might be one of those people. I spent a year living in Germany in 1983/4, during which I got to truly understand what great bread is all about - and I am not the only member of this site for whom German bread was a revelation. I have been on a quest for bread of that quality ever since - that's a period of 17 years and counting.

 

The good news is, a couple of years ago I finally stumbled upon a place that delivers fantastic quality bread whenever I want it, with a diversity of product that is staggering, and it was right under my nose the whole time: my kitchen! That's no boast, for I take little credit myself for the quality of my home-baked product. It's a matter of quality ingredients, the knowledge of the baking ages, now freely shared via electronic communication by home artisan bakers on sites like this one, and some experience. ANYONE CAN DO IT! It's just a matter of wanting to.

 

But it does help if you remain open-minded and a little humble about your place in the world. There are many fantastic home and pro bakers from all over the globe who have much to teach those who are open-minded and prepared to listen. Artisan bread is a universe waiting to be explored, not just one little corner of the world with its own characteristic sourdough bread. If you wish to pursue the characteristic sourness of the bread that is your regional speciality, though, SF is the best place to capture it. Out of that area, the yeast strains will be different, inevitably. However, carefully working your way through all the suggestions people have made to you in this thread should end up with you getting the sour results you're after, although probably not exactly the same flavour profiles of SF sourdough unless you're in SF and using the same flours and techniques as Boudin's etc.

 

And by the way, don't take my word on sourness not being a definitive element of sourdough bread generally. Listen to the illuminating radio interview with John Downes embedded halfway down this page. John is the so-called 'father of Australian sourdough' and an acknowledged authority on sourdough bread. I think you'd have to accept that he knows a little about the topic...it's been his life. Listen and learn.

 

Cheers
Ross

PS: You might be interested in this recent post of John Downes, in which he explains the origin of the San Franciscan wild yeast strain that gives the SF bread its characteristic sourness (see towards the end of the article).

 

[quote=Ross]GreenSpyder, you seem to have reacted very defensively to my comments, which I made in good faith as a contribution in response to your posts. I intended no offence. Rather, I was merely making some observations I thought were relevant. You asked for help - it is surely a little ungracious to react thus to someone responding to you.[/quote]

You didn't offend me, and I don't mean to come across defensive or ingracious.  You presented the question: [b] "Did you look through the links LeadDog provided...and if so, did you actually apply the suggestions in your own baking?"[/b]  My answer is emphatically "Yes!"  I've tried every suggestion listed on this thread (several times) and many I've found elsewhere.  [u]Why would you assume I haven't?[/u]

 

Why did I react differently to your post?  Because you didn't suggest anything different. You suggested I look through LeadDog's links (which I've done), and you suggested the same thing Muff did weeks ago.  Beyond that, you stated your opinion about sourdough.  Nothing new here. 

 

You seem (to me) to have read the original subject line "SOUR sourdough", then skimmed the rest, not quite understanding that it's not necessarily the sourness I'm looking for, as much as the tartness I'm trying achieve.  It's not that I consider San Francisco "the centre of the SD world" (sic), as much as the specific flavor I'm trying to duplicate.  I'm certain Germany and many other places have wonderful SD bread.  It's just that's not what I'm looking for.

 

There's nothing wrong with being a "French-Bread-Person", I've made hundreds of french bread loaves, and consider myself one too.  However, I wouldn't get on a web site called "Sourdough.com" and post "I don't like it much" (sic) refering to sourdough.  You should expect this type of reply, especially considering that your post didn't contribute to this thread in any way!  Before taking offense at my reply, and starting a flame war (on a bread making web site!!!), you may want to go back and REALLY read the posts.  Then you'll understand that I'm searching for a very specific flavor, more than sourness.

 

In finishing my post with "I appreciate everyone's replies and suggestions, thanks!"  This was directed to you also!  So please, take no offense to my reply, I haven't towards yours.  This is supposed to be a friendly forum of enthusiasts discussing techniques.  My goal is to get to the bottom of this tangy, tart flavor.  Any helpful suggestions are always appreciated!!!

 

Thanks again to all,

G.Spyder
 

 

 

On one hand, you claim you're not being defensive, then you spend the post attempting to attack/demean me:

  • I didn't contibute anything new (how about a 48 hour fridge retardation period?)
  • didn't read the thread properly
  • don't understand what you're asking
  • my post "didn't contribute to this thread in any way" etc etc...
  • Then you follow up with this silly statement misprepresenting my comments: "I wouldn't get on a website called "Sourdough.com" and post "I don't like much" referring to sourdough."

    Doesn't exactly come across as cool-headed and objective, does it?

 If my posts were no help to you, sorry about that. One can but try. But I'm not going to be misrepresented. Here's the fact on your comment italicised above. I said no such thing. I have baked ONLY sourdough bread for the last 2 years! I love it! What I said was that I didn't much care for sourness in SD bread. I've tried to elaborate on this sourness issue, but clearly to no avail. Not much point in pursuing this further.

I simply refer you back to the points I tried to make in my previous post. And hopefully, you'll take the time to listen to a bona fide authority like John Downes. Maybe he'll get through where I couldn't. DO check out that radio interview, and it might clarify some of what I've been trying to get across. But as always, your choice. As a beginner in sourdough bread baking, I'd have thought it would be in your interests to be open to learning...

 Anyway, no more from me. If you want a flame war, you can have one all on your own. Funny way to go on when you're a new poster, though.

 Hope you get that sourness you're looking for, or tartness, or whatever you want to call it.

Best of baking to you!

 

 

This was a very good loaf, it didn't last the day in our home.  My SD is improving so that it goes quicker than my french loaves lately.

 

Simplification was the theme this week.  I noticed my starter is never more sour as after it's set in the fridge all week, so I doubled it last time and used half straight from the fridge (after mixing the hooch back in).  After mixing it up, I let it sit on a 72F counter for 6.5 hrs, then into the 40F fridge for 5.5 days.  I went straight from the fridge onto a hot baking stone for 32 min at 425F.  I got the perfect amount of sour, a really good crumb and rise, but not the taste I'm hoping for.  I don't see that all that time in the fridge made it any different than when I chill it for only 12 hrs.

 

I've noticed my SF culture has been fading, taste-wise.  I ordered a couple more SF culture starters from Amazon, and mixed them in.  Now it smells great, I'll proof this up and see if this helps any.

 

 Green Spyder here are a couple of more points to consider.

I checked the ingredients of San Luis Sourdough a year or two ago and it had ascorbic acid in it.  Now the use of ascorbic acid has caused a big debate on this site before.  Some believe that sourdough should be only flour, water, and salt.  I have never tried ascorbic acid in bread but I have wondered if that is the taste that you and I chase after.  

The second point is that I have read that storing your starter in the fridge kills off the bacteria that causes the sour of sour dough bread.  When you think about the SF bakeries and that they keep their starters fed and active 24/7 then it is possible that storing in the fridge is what causes the stater to be mild.

I still don't have an answer but continue to chase the flavor of SF sourdough bread.  I'll make a new starter at the beginning of November to bake some bread for the Thanksgiving holidays.  I'm thinking of blogging what I do and see if any of my new ideas help make a sour starter.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Don't know whether it contributes to taste or affects pH (seems unlikely in such tiny amounts) but I seem to recall it is something of a dough conditioner. A search yielded one result that said it helped prevent breakdown of the loaf caused by glutathionine, about which I know nothing.

Vinegar is often added to bread doughs  (1:128) and I've never been able to taste it; some claim it inhibits mold and rope, which I doubt.

I do know that you can bake perfectly fine bread with nothing but flour, water, salt, and time. (Skill and luck in equal parts also essential!)

Seems to me that the Acme in Berkeley keeps their starter in a tub in the cooler, but I'm not positive. The Acme sour is mild, distinctive, not tart or sharp. FWIW ...

:-)Muff

 

Okay, I last mentioned that I refreshed my starter with a couple fresh packets.  I ordered them through Amazon from a company called "Cultures for Life", their SF sourdough starter.  I put them both in, and have been feeding it every 12 hrs or so since on my 70F counter.  I'll be darned, but the taste I'm looking for is right in the starter now.  It gets much less right after feeding, but 12-18 hrs later, and it's smelling as tart as ever. 

 

LeadDog, I'm going to try that.  I'm keeping the cull, and leaving this 'new' SF starter just on the counter to see if it gets stronger.  I'll do the same with my "native" culture, and see what it does, too.  I call it native, because I left four and water in an open jar, and it fermented.  It may be of whatever flora is near the wheat field my flour came from, though.  You're in Paso, right between SLO Town and The Bay, aren't you?  Does your "native" culture taste anything like Boudins or SLO Sourdough?

 

Muff, I tried adding a lot more than 1:128 vinegar to a loaf a while back, and I was unable to taste any difference at all.  I don't think that's the trick.  I have't tried ascorbic acid yet, but I'm going to see how this newest variation of the SF culture works out, first.  It smells very tart!

 

G.Spyder

When I wrote "1:128" yesterday I meant that for every gallon (128 oz) of water some shops add 1 oz. of ordinary vinegar.  When you factor in the 12-15 pounds of flour, 4 ounces of salt, and whatever other malt, milk, shortening and sugar might be called for,  it's really a much smaller ratio that implied. Sorry about that.

:-Muff

 I did a little bit more reading on ascorbic acid and it isn't the answer if fact it isn't even needed to make sourdough bread.

Here is what I'm thinking I'm going to try and do next and is based on information from several sources.  Check out this article on Microbiology of San Francisco  Sourdough.  In it you will see that Lactobacillus sanfrancisco secretes a antibiotic that sterilises the dough, it kills off other bacteria and yeast.  The yeast Candida milleri is immune to this antibiotic and becomes the natural partner in the San Francisco Sourdough starter.  Somewhere I had read that the only place that microbiologist have been able to isolate Lactobacillus sanfrancisco is in the mouth of people.  John Downes posted on here recently that the 49ers that made sourdough starters spit into the starter to get it going.  I think it is worth a try for the next starter I make to spit in it, but don't tell anyone that is what I did.

Green Spyder yea I'm between SLO and SF.  I live about 5 miles from the guy that started San Luis Sourdough.  My breads are normally mild.  They do seem to get more sour if last to the third day after baking.  The best bread I have ever had was last Christmas season when I had two weeks off and was baking bread every day.  I just left my storage starter out on the counter and kept it fed.  The bread that I made at the end of those two weeks just rocked my world.  I haven't been able to make a loaf like it since but I'll try again this year when I have the time.  You can read about it in this post.  

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

[quote=Muff]When I wrote "1:128" yesterday I meant that...[/quote]

<<...going back in my notes...>>  After sitting in the fridge for 12 hrs, I rolled a loaf out and kneaded in 4 TBSP of white vinegar, then enough flour to make a nice loaf again.  I let it sit for 6 hrs, then baked it.  I couldn't tell the difference between a loaf made with vinegar or distilled water.  This is so much more than you're indicating, that I don't think a mere 1:128 diluted down would matter.  White vinegar makes an excellent hand exfolliant, BTW!  OUCH!!!

 

[quote=LeadDog]Check out this article on Microbiology of San Francisco  Sourdough.  In it you will see...[/quote]

I remember reading that article.  I've been researching this online for nine months, and I find it fascinating, being a medical person. 

 

[quote=LeadDog]...Somewhere I had read that the only place that microbiologist have been able to isolate Lactobacillus sanfrancisco is in the mouth of people.  John Downes posted on here recently that the 49ers that made sourdough starters spit into the starter to get it going.  I think it is worth a try for the next starter I make to spit in it, but don't tell anyone that is what I did...[/quote]

There ARE other orafices that house lacobacillus, but you wouldn't put food near them.  Let me know how that spitting thing works out  :)

 

L-Dog...good call on not refrigerating the starter.  Since leaving it out, I smell more and stronger flavors when it's ripe.  In keeping with that theme, I didn't refrigerate my loaf this week.  I left it in a ziplock bag under a 79F lamp for 6 hrs, shaped it, scored it, brushed it with a little eggwhite/water mix and let it stand another 4 hrs.  I cooked it at 450F for the full 30 min with a lot of humidity.  This must be the method commercial bakers use, because it had that perfect crumb, and perfect crust.  It was every bit as sour an any loaf I refrigerated for 12 to 132 hours.  I'm finding the less processes I use, the better the bread.  I may have over-researched this, and I may be trying too much.

 

I have two cultures I've been feeding for about nine months, a "native", and some SF I got online.  I've been taking them out of the fridge, feeding them twice, using the cull for bread, then putting them back in the cold box until next week.  This may be my mistake.  I wonder how tart they would be if I hadn't kept them so cool.

My starter last weekend got lazy and didn't perform very well so it is out on the counter and I spit in it this morning.  Tonight when I opened it up it smelled like vinegar.

Spyder we are not talking about just any old lactobacillus which is found all over the place and cause headaches in my industry.  We are talking about Lactobacillus sanfrancisco and I remember reading the only place it has been found outside of a sourdough starter is in peoples mouths.  The point is that this is where the starter has to get it from.  It doesn't come from the grain or out of the air.  I'll know soon if it makes my starter any better.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Found this recipe below on the King Arthur Flour website.  Thought of you trying to get a good "sour"

from your sourdough starter.  They added sour salt or citric acid.  Enjoy your sourdough trip!

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/extra-tangy-sourdough-bread-recipe

When you mentioned that you started leaving it out and feeding it more often (a good thing), I remembered people mentioning feeding ratios as yet another thing that relates to the sour. That is to say, if simply tripling the flour  (such as a 1:1:1 feeding of starter, water, and flour) then the results will be different than if you quadrupled it or even more. The more that is fed, the more the yeast will eat/multiply before slowing down/dying off. So I ask the following questions:

1. At what hydration are you keeping the starter?

2. How much are you keeping with each discard, and how much are you then feeding?

3. 12 hours sounds like the right amount of time for feeding, but have you tried feeding slightly larger amounts and letting it go 24 hours instead of 12?

4. Can you give an exact description of how you have been making your bread lately? I know you changed your technique, so I am curious what formula and method you are using. I am glad to read that you are simplifying things.

 

On another note, I know you say that your starter seems to be the flavor you are going for. So your thinking was to add more of the starter. From what I understand, this is actually going to work against your desire for an increased sour flavor. More starter means a faster fermentation. Slow fermentations result in more sour than fast ones.

[quote=LeadDog]...Spyder we are not talking about just any old lactobacillus...[/quote]

Yeah, I was trying to be funny.  What industry does this give you headaches in?  (PM me.)

[quote=Midnight Baker]...They added sour salt or citric acid...[/quote]

Really?  Vitamin C?  Now I have to try that too!

[quote=Maverick]...

1. At what hydration are you keeping the starter?

2. How much are you keeping with each discard, and how much are you then feeding?

3. 12 hours sounds like the right amount of time for feeding, but have you tried feeding slightly larger amounts and letting it go 24 hours instead of 12?

4. Can you give an exact description of how you have been making your bread lately? I know you changed your technique, so I am curious what formula and method you are using. I am glad to read that you are simplifying things...[/quote]

1. I'm not sure exactly.  I keep 1/2 to 3/4 cup of starter (of each culture).  I add the largest heaping tablespoon of flour I can, then enough distilled water to make it like pancake batter (sometimes a little thicker).  I haven't weighed out the culture ingredients.

2.  I use anywhere from 120 to 200 gms of starter, depending on the size of my loaf (300-500gms of flour/loaf).  I usually end up with my 1/2 to 3/4 cup of starter left over, then feed it again.

3. No, but I'm willing to try anything that may work!

4. I don't have a technique yet (with SD bread), I've been trying everything suggested, and other stuff I've read online.  In general, I feed the starter until it's smelling right, then mix it with the flour:water:starter:salt (100:50:40:2).  I let it sit 4-6 hrs on the counter to proof.  Then I've been putting it in the refrigerator for 12-24 hrs, give it a good knead, shape it, and let it sit for about another 4-6 hrs on the counter, then bake it.  I'm considering skipping the fridge part from now on.  I didn't last time, and it was as sour as ever.

I live about a mile high, which presents some problems.  The lack of humidity (especially in winter) causes a hard  dry crust to form, keeping the dough ball from expanding.  So I keep it in a ziplock plastic bag until the final rise, then I brush on an egg white/water mix, which keeps the crust soft, and allows very nice expansion.  This also makes the crust especially nice for baking (like my french loaves).  I can also keep an eye on the amount of gas the fermentation produces while in the bag.  Water boils at 190F at this altitude, so I bake (french loaves) at 425F.  I usually do this with my SD also, but the higher (450F) browns the egg white/crust much nicer, so I usually bake a little hotter, which means even hotter yet compared to sea level.  I still spray the oven & loaf upon baking, and again 5-10 min later.  In addition, I put a pint of boiling water in the oven during baking.  If I let the starter get nasty smelling, then I get a really nice crumb and oven rise.  The egg white and steam make for a perfect crust, too.

 

I haven't started spitting in my cultures yet, I'll let LeadDog break that trail for me!!!

 

 

 

 

 

[quote=GreenSpyder]

Yeah, I was trying to be funny.  What industry does this give you headaches in?  (PM me.)

<snip> 

I haven't started spitting in my cultures yet, I'll let LeadDog break that trail for me!!!

[/quote]

No PM needed the info is posted in the forum in other threads.  We even talk about it a lot, wine.

The new starter smells strongly of vinegar and I have the preferment made up for a loaf.  I think in a day or two I'll know if this helped.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

[quote=Midnite Baker]

Found this recipe below on the King Arthur Flour website.  Thought of you trying to get a good "sour"

from your sourdough starter.  They added sour salt or citric acid.  Enjoy your sourdough trip!

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/extra-tangy-sourdough-bread-recipe

[/quote]

The last loaf of bread I made was using this idea.  The loaf was a big hit at work and disappeared really fast.  The head of winemaking agreed with me it should be even more sour.  The next loaf will be double the amount of acid added.  The great thing about winemaking here in this area is we add acid to wine to make a balanced wine.  This means I get to try different acids to see what kind of bread they make.  I'm looking forward to using Malic acid as that will be another food source for the bacteria.  I'm not sure what kind impact it will have on the flavors but I'm thinking they could be very good flavors.

The citric acid was added at the rate of 1.5% and I left it out until the salt was added.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

As expressed in this thread, I don't think so. These guys in the article I've quoted from below don't think so, either - and they're amongst the most acclaimed bakers in...wait for it... SanFrancisco! One of them, Chad Robertson of the acclaimed Tartine Bakery, has become famous for his country loaf, which many afficionados rate as one of the best breads in the world. I think it's worth checking out what these guys have to say. Following is a quote (my bolding) from a recently published feature in San Francisco Magazine. (See here, for the full article, which I think makes truly fascinating reading.)

 

Sourdough, it turns out, is mostly a term of art. Technically, it describes all manner of naturally leavened breads—that is, any bread that achieves its rise with natural fermentation, from a sourdough starter, rather than with instant yeast. In the retail world, breads called sourdough are those that have a more intense sour flavor. San Francisco’s version is one of the genre’s most extreme examples—and not a ter­ribly well respected one. “As far as my international friends are concerned, sourdough is a mistake,” Craig Ponsford, chairman of the board for the Bread Bakers Guild of America, told me. “It’s an overfermented bread, where you can’t taste the wheat.” Robertson basically agrees, as does Michel Suas, the renowned founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute. “To be sour is easy,” Suas says. “The skill of the baker is to create a natural leavening activity”—that is, with a sourdough starter—“and still get a mild flavor.”

 

Of course, anyone is free to prefer sour sourdough - it's all a matter of taste, and there are no rights and wrongs in that area. However, it is certainly not correct that sourness is a defining characteristic of sourdough (ie: naturally leavened) bread, as Green Spyder insisted upon in the thread above. I suspect that is a common misunderstanding, though, and I think it's a damaging one. People who believe it may be discontent with any SD bread that is not sour, and thus be closed to the possibility of accessing the full flavour spectrum that sourdough bread has to offer. I know this does not apply to experienced bakers like LeadDog, who may enjoy sour SD, but also bakes and appreciates a great variety of sourdough breads.

Anyway, just thought it was worth drawing attention to the above article for the sake of those who may be turning out excellent bread, but labour under the impression that anything less than tart is not the real thing! Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am in no way suggesting that you, Green Spyder, are 'wrong' to pursue the sourness/tartness/whatever you enjoy. Your taste is your taste, simple as that.

 

Cheers
Ross

 

 Interesting.  I have been making bread for the winemaking group at work of which I'm part of.  There are seven of us at the winery and of course we make decisions by tasting.  When I started making the bread sour if was a big hit with the group so much so they asked that I make the bread even more sour.  I really found the winemaking groups reaction to the sour bread amazing in light of this thread.  Here are a group of people who make their living using their palates and they prefer the sour bread.  I look at it this way if everyone in the world had the same likes in taste the world wouldn't be as an interesting place.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Long live variety in all things. I must say, though, I don't think the fact that the preferences for sour SD bread of a winemaking group at your workplace "who make their living using their palates" means anything significant at all. They no doubt have educated palates in their specialist area - but that's wine, not bread.

If I was to take notice of any group's bread preferences, it would be a group of acclaimed specialist sourdough bread bakers such as those mentioned in the article, and John Downes (who is scathing in his assessment of the sourness of 'typical' San Franciscan SD bread). In my case, my revelatory experience with quality bread was during a year in Germany, where the diversity of flavour and style of SD and other bread is staggering, and that's where I developed my preferences. I suppose taste has to do with one's range of bread tasting experiences. People used to SF-style sourness may well have that as their benchmark of quality. Whatever works for you, I guess.

 

 Many things come to mind about the thread.  The title alone shows that there other breads that are not sour that use "sourdough" to ferment them that is why it is titled SOUR sourdough.  So why do you keep meddling in this thread?  Why don't you start your own thread and write about the differences of sour vs non-sour tasting bread?

Sour Sourdough has to be the my 2nd most favorite bread that I have ever eaten and there seems to be a lot of people in my area that like it.  Since you brought up Craig Ponsford I have been to his bakery and I didn't care much for how he made his rye bread.  It was obvious to me that he caved in to the tastes of Americans and made it the way they expect it to taste and not like a rye bread from Europe, it doesn't taste like rye you can't even taste the rye. Is that any different than what he said about sourdough and wheat?

Now I'm going to explain how wine relates to this,  One of the most acclaimed wine critics in the world is Robert Parker.  Now it isn't a well know fact that he has a palate that is just the opposite of over 60% of the people of the world.  He recommends wines that 60% of people just can't stand.  This is why I don't take the word of acclaimed person to tell me what I like.  I know what I like and I know why I like it.  Just to take that a little bit further about 2/3 of the wine press have palates that are similar to Robert Parkers.  So you can now see how messed up the wine world is because of acclaimed people.

So stop telling Green Spyder and me that you don't like SOUR sourdough we understand that.  Leave this thread for the exploring of how to make a SOUR sourdough.

 

 Craig Ponsford

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

I thought better of you than that, LeadDog. I don't know why you seem to be intent on turning this into a personal attack. I certainly meant nothing personal in my comments, and was careful to keep adding provisos like "it's a matter of personal taste" and "there are no rights and wrongs here." 

I take exception to you telling me to "stop meddling in this thread". I do not see it as meddling. This is a public forum, and differences of opinion are an intrinsic part of that environment.

I was merely making some points I maintain are valid in response to a rather didactic post by Green Spyder claiming that sourness/tartness is a defining characteristic of sourdough bread. That's a common misconception - and experts in the field share this view (and not just Ponsford...do you also dismiss the views and palates of John Downes, Chad Robertson and Michael Suas?). Since the point is on topic and in direct response to some claims made by the author of the thread, how is it "meddling" to express it here? It seems that your interpretation of "meddling" is any post that conflicts with your opinion. Some preciousness at play there, it seems.

We are both regular long-term contributors to this forum - I don't see that it is your prerogative to go ticking me off, as you've attempted to do here. I've respected you until now, but it's difficult to maintain that when it is clear that it is not returned from you.

You and Green Spyder can have your thread back. I had no intention of labouring the point further about sourness, but when I came across that article, I thought it was relevant and topical - not to mention a fascinating read generally. That's why I posted it.

I never challenged your right to pursue sourness in your breads, although I didn't realise until now that it was such an important part of the bread experience for you. That surprises me, and as is clear, I don't share your taste - but why that should be a cause for such rancour or aggression on your part, I don't know.

Anyway, enough from me. I'll leave you guys to swap notes on getting that sour experience you cherish.

 

PS: You're preaching to the converted on Robert Parker Jnr. I attended a wine tasting a few years back at which a legendary Wolfblass winemaker (I won't mention his name) declared RPJ "a wanker." Since the guy I'm referring to really does know his stuff, and since my partner and I had given up following Parker's recommendations years before after he raved about a couple of Aust wines we found very ordinary, I can but concur. But so what? People with excellent palates can disagree, because some things come down to personal taste. You might note, I've acknowledged that all along.

 

 Hey Green Spyder if you are still around join the Northwest Sourdough Forum.  There is a section there on super sour sourdough I think you will really like it.  You have to ask the Admin for the password to the section because she wants to keep the method from spreading all over the internet.

 

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

Seriously GreenSpyder ...The sourest sourdough I ever produced was a sort of mistake that I made early in my sourdough experience.   I was trying to make a nice 100% mixed whole grain sourdough.   I presoaked part of my grains and where the recipe called for regular yeast in the presoak, I mistakenly gave it a dose of starter and let it set at room temp ~72 - 75F for at least 5 hours.  Then I added the presoak to my dough that contained more multiple grains rye, spelt, wheat and oats and additional starter - I would say the starter was way more than the recommended amount and then I put it in the fridge for a long ferment.  The Bread was Flat -  the protein (gluten) had been affected or weakened  and couldn't raise the heavy grain structure.  But it was by far the sourest bread I have ever tasted, ever...  No vinegar or spit required. 

 

I spent over 2 years at DFLI in Monterey California - One of our Favorite Supper's was Sourdough Bread and Clam Chowder down on the Wharf.  I'm with LeadDog - give Teresa's Northwest Sourdough site a try, she is an experienced Sourdough Baker.  I'll just have to sneak over there and see what she has to say...

Terri

You really are what you eat, so eat wisely...

Pardon my absence, I spent the last two weeks in St. Thomas.  There's a bread market waiting to be exploited!  Except for a few high end resturants, there is no sourdough on the islands.  Very little in the way of bread to buy at the market, too.

 

I made two loaves this weekend, identical except I put a TBSP of ascorbic acid in one.  They are both 300gm flour size, and I think I over did the acid.  A third might come very close to the taste I'm looking for.  It still doesn't seem exact, but it's as close as I've gotten so far.  The "acidic loaf" didn't rise nearly that of the "control loaf".  I put the starter in the fridge while I was gone, then just poured off the hootch and used this in the loaves, and got some exceptionally sour dough.  The rise and crumb of the control loaf was extremely nice.

 

Thanks for the referal to the Northwest Sourdough Forum, I've got a lot of reading to do!

 

[quote=Ross] Anyway, no more from me. If you want a flame war, you can have one all on your own. Funny way to go on when you're a new poster, though.[/quote]

What?!  You promised to leave my thread alone.  Now go away!  This is a thread about SOUR sourdough, and admittedly, not your preference.  You just couldn't let it go, could you?  Were you bullied as a child or what?  Quote all the culinary genious" you want, they don't share my taste.  I'd think the bread in their resturant is too mild, and I happen to be the customer.  If Craig Ponsford says he doesn't like a particular bread, that's probably the one I'm going looking for.  Either I like it or I don't, that's my litmus test.  Food critics and editors are the scum of the industry (ask anyone making an HONEST living at it).  It takes little skill to jump on a bus with every other critic and echo popular opinions.  Theodore Rosevelt once said "It's not the critic that counts....."  Go read the rest.

 

Nobody cares if you're a senior member of a bread forum, that doesn't garner respect.  Especially when you lord yourself around as some kind of a literary/food snob and polute threads with your caustic opinions.  People come to these forums to learn, not to kiss the ass of some self righteous prick who calls himself informed.  Oh btw, I found your nose somewhere on the way home from the islands, halfway between Dulles and DIA at about 37,000 feet!!!  Now show some real class, and go away!

 Welcome back GreenSpyder,  Yes go check out the NorthWest Sourdough Forum.  I documented a little experiment over there that I did with acids.  I think that after the experiment that if you just add a little bit of Malic acid and wait two days after baking the bread would have just the right sour.

I made a new starter while you were gone and even spit in it at the start.  Yesterday I made my weekly bread that I eat for lunch everyday with it.  I took a bite of it today and the flavor is noticeable different and there is a bit of sour to it also.  I'll see how the flavor changes as the week goes by.  The starter is still very young so it should develop even more character.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

GreenSpyder,

While LeadDog evidently approves of your latest effort, I do not welcome you back if you are going to post in the manner you just have. Throwing tantrums and resorting to personal hostility like that lowers your standing and lowers the tone of this excellent forum. This post of yours is an inappropriate and very strange way for a new member of a forum community (actually, any member) to be behaving - especially in light of your opening plea for people to "be gentle"!!  To quote one of your celebrity countrymen, "put your manners back in."

Perhaps you should read my posts a little more carefully before you fly off the handle like a 3 year old. I never questioned your right to to prefer sour bread. Soak it in vinegar for all I care. I prefer to enjoy the full spectrum and complexity of flavours that sourdough bread has to offer. That's my right, and it's my right to express that. It is also appropriate, I believe, to link to an article that is of general relevance to the topic of sourness in SD breads. It is not my fault that the acclaimed bakers referenced in that article do not share your taste. Why pay out on me?

The key here is respect. While I do not share your taste, I respect your right to prefer SD bread with sourness as the dominant characteristic. Most of all, though, I respect Graham and Maedi as the folk who make this board available to a community of folk interested in discussing sourdough bread and sharing their baking experiences, and I respect the community standards.  Unless you're prepared to do the same, I respectfully suggest that it is you who should be going elsewhere.

Perhaps you're used to forums in which people resort to personal attack against those whose opinions differ from theirs, and tell those who do not share their views to "go away". Perhaps where you come from it's acceptable to resort to namecalling when someone challenges your views, rather than engaging in constructive discourse where both parties stand a chance of actually learning something. Once you've been here longer than 5 minutes you might come to understand that this is not that type of forum. Civility and constructive comment is the norm here, and even when exchanges get passionate, calling an adversary a "self-righteous prick" is way out of line. You have the dubious distinction of being the only poster in the history of this forum - at least that I have had the misfortune to encounter - to lower yourself to that level. I hardly think you are in any position, then, to be telling anyone else to "show some class"!

Disagree with me and others, by all means, but please maintain some control of your baser instincts. Do not disrespect the forum, its founders or its members by attempting to dictate who can respond to your posts and who can't, or confusing differing opinion with personal attack, and then responding in kind. And do not use offensive language towards other members. I speak for myself, but I believe the founders of the site, and the great majority of this community shares and adheres to the standards I am advocating.

As I've already stated, you and LeadDog can continue to swap hints on escalating the acidity of your sourdough breads to your hearts' content without further input from me. However, as someone who is an active contributor to the forum and cares about it and the community it harbours, I can't let your bilious outburst above go without addressing it. Hence this post. My earnest request in parting is that in future, on this or any other thread, please respect the standards and etiquette that other members of this community demonstrate.

 

Ross

 GreenSpyder here is a very good read that should be helpful in getting a more sour flavor.  This is a post by Debra Wink on The Fresh Loaf. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10375/lactic-acid-fermentation-sourdough  

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

LDog, Thanks to your suggestions about keeping the starter warmer and thicker, I've gotten some excellent results.  I've been rolling the doughball out in a very thin rectangle, then tightly rolling up the smaller side (like I learned to make french bread) and kneading it a couple more times.  I put it in the garage at approx 62F for 12-18 hrs, knock it down, then leave it on the counter at 72F for 4-6 hrs.  I brush with egg whites twice and bake until a meat thermometer shows 190F.  This has gotten me some very sour bread, and a very nice consistency.  It seems more sour after sitting on the counter a day or two after baking.  This bread is so good, I almost don't care about finding the tartness I"ve been looking for.  However, bettering something already this good is a worthy persuit.

 

[quote=rossnroller]

...As I've already stated, you and LeadDog can continue to swap hints on escalating the acidity of your sourdough breads to your hearts' content [b]without further input from me...[/b][/quote]

Yeah, you've promised this before!  Then you came back and started another flame war with your self-righteous attitude.  I'm not angry at you, when I write back, it's with a smirk on my face.  I feel disgust and pity towards you, mostly, no anger.  

Maybe you're too thick to figure this out, so let me clarify...this thread is about how to make SOUR sourdough, not to discuss the merts of SOUR sourdough.  Capiche?  Expect this same attitude anytime you reenter this thread with your worthless and derrogitory drivel.

 

I've posted mainly on this thread.  That leaves you every other thread on this forum to torment.  Come back, and expect more flaming, name calling and spite.  Stay away, and things will remain very respectful.  YOU MAKE THE CALL!!!

[quote=GreenSpyder]Come back, and expect more flaming, name calling and spite.  Stay away, and things will remain very respectful.  YOU MAKE THE CALL!!![/quote]

Hoisted on your own petard. You've made the call right there, and it's the call of a dim trash-talking tyrant.

As for your PM fantasy, well, fanboy exchanges between you and LeadDog don't count for much. I am in long-term PM and email contact with enough of the good folk here to know where I stand in this community, at least among the people I like and respect most. That's all that matters to me.

Will you be able to resist having the last word? I doubt it. So go ahead. You've shown yourself for what you are - anything further you spew out is merely confirmation.

Over and out.

 GreenSpyder I found another post on The Fresh Loaf about how to make a sour SF bread.  Here is the post. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20340/sourdough-bread-more-tang-using-sour-salt About half way down is a post about a little booklet by Sara Pitzer that might be helpful.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

 

I actually had gone to Mike's site at sourdoughhome.com to look at his SF sourdough recipe and found him thinking about the following article.  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1997/10/08/FD11065.DTL&hw=sourdough&sn=004&sc=585

You should be able to find Nancy Silverman's recipe - I have her book and her methods are pretty interesting, I'll have to check to see if the recipe is in there.

 

Terri

 

You really are what you eat, so eat wisely...

I think the amount of ascorbic acid in my test loaf made the pH too low, repressing the organism activity.  There was noticably less CO2 produced in it's ziplock, too.

 

How did the malic acid work out?  How do I obtain malic acid?

 

 [quote=LeadDog]GreenSpyder I found another post on The Fresh Loaf about how to make a sour SF bread.  Here is the post. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20340/sourdough-bread-more-tang-using-sour-salt About half way down is a post about a little booklet by Sara Pitzer that might be helpful.[/quote]

Excellent article, questions, and clarifications.  Good find.  From this, I'm going to try some different things:

***  I'll be putting whole wheat flour in my starters, and loaves.  I've been using unbleached white flour, because  I like the white bread appearence.  I should add 25% WW to my doughball, and feed the starter every other day with it too.

***  I'll need to be more meticulous about feeding my starter.  That goo it becomes after 1.5 days after feeding may be killing my LAB.

***  I'll be hydrating my starter and doughballs more as this encourages LAB growth.  Additionally, it would seem that more hydration during the bake would create more "oven spring'.

***  I should allow the doughball to sit at room temp for a few hours before going to the garage.  This will allow the LAB to reproduce quicker, allowing more organisms to work the dough.  We've had our first snow, and the garage is in the upper 50'sF now.

 

It's back to work again, so I'll be trying these next weekend.  We now have a 4 month old Maine Coon kitten in house, she can be so distracting (in a good way).

[quote=GreenSpyder]

How did the malic acid work out?  How do I obtain malic acid?

[/quote]

The Malic Acid worked out great.  I'm not going to use it again but from reading the Debra Wink thread on The Fresh Loaf the LAB use Malic Acid to help make Acetic Acid.  What was most interesting is the bread when it is two days old is noticeable more sour than when it is one day old.  I get my Malic Acid from a winery supply store.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot