70 Pounds of Sponge Later

Secret_Ingredient

After 30 years or so of researching that bread I ate in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf, I have scientific evidence that San Francisco Sourdough bread can be made anywhere in the world. The only problem is, for this starter, you literally start with 1/4 tsp. of bread flour and 1/4 tsp. of water. But the sponge, starter, what-ever-you-call-it isn't ready until it's been built up into 70 pounds.

 

See my blog:

 

 

The Old Fashioned San Francisco Pacific Slope Sourdough French Bread

 

 

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GreenSpyder 2011 March 16

I loved your tag line and had to use it as a subject!!!

 

The unique San Francisco flavor has been the inspiration for all my homebaked sourdough efforts.  I've kept a good starter going for roughly 10 months now, and my efforts have been largely ineffectual.  I've recently returned from a hometown visit to Santa Maria, California where I ate some San Luis Sourdough, a very similar taste to Boudin's, and it's painful to see all my efforts falling so short.  Living in the Denver area, I have no access to this flavor of sourdough.  So naturally your post caught my eye.

 

After reading your blog, I've got several questions related to how I've been proceding.  First, tell me that 70 lbs is an accumulated summation, and not the total size of the sponge you're keeping at home!  How critical is the 80-85F temp?  My counter is kept right at 70F, will I have to increase the temp?  I see you feed on an alternating schedule of 8 & 16 hrs.  I've been feeding whole wheat & white flour daily, usually as soon as the starter rises then falls.  I keep my starter about the consistency of plaster, or mortar, is this too thick?  I use only distilled water. 

 

Do you bake your sponge directly?  Currently I'm using a recipe that calls for 40% starter and proofs mostly at 50F for 18-24hrs.  This gives me the most sour taste, so far.  I'm always experimenting.  I've found adding a touch of olive oil to the final recipe gives a nicer texture overall, can you try this and see if it negatively impacts your loaves in any way.

 

This web site has a faction very adverse to the San Francisco flavor, so feel free to email me directly at [email protected] for further follow up...

 

Thanks for your similar interests in SD,

GreenSpyder

 

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 March 21

[quote=GreenSpyder]

The unique San Francisco flavor has been the inspiration for all my homebaked sourdough efforts.  I've kept a good starter going for roughly 10 months now, and my efforts have been largely ineffectual.  I've recently returned from a hometown visit to Santa Maria, California where I ate some San Luis Sourdough, a very similar taste to Boudin's, and it's painful to see all my efforts falling so short.  Living in the Denver area, I have no access to this flavor of sourdough.  So naturally your post caught my eye.

 

GreenSpyder

 

[/quote]

Spyder did you happen to look at the ingredients on the packaging of the SLO Sourdough?  I just curious if it is more than flour, water, and salt.  They may put something on there about sourdough culture.

Check out my post My Favorite Bread.  I'm letting it sitting for three days and it is getting a slight trace of the flavor of SLO Sourdough.  This is a mystery that I have yet to find anyone to be able to explain.  When a sourdough bread sits for a few days the sour flavor increases.  The other mystery is we assumed that Acetic Acid is the acid that we want in our dough to get the sour taste but it is a volatile acid.  We measure the amount of acetic acid in wine by boiling the wine and condensing the steam.  Makes me wonder if any acetic acid is left in the bread after it is baked?  Maybe it is Lactic Acid that makes the sour in SLO Sourdough?  Maybe I'll try some experiments this summer with temperatures, hydration and that sort of stuff.

Secret_Ingredient 2011 March 20

 Some member sent me an email and I respond publicly.

 

The article Mr. Green quoted: 

 

http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/64/7/2616

 

calls for lactic fermentation around 90 degrees F. and for the yeast fermentation around 80. My response is that since it is not scientifically possible to have two temperatures in the same mass of starter at the same time, I strive for 85 to 90. 

pattycom 2011 April 4

GreenSpyder,

I too live in the Denver area and have very little success with getting the tangy flavor of SF sourdough.  I wondered if the altitiude and/or low humidity was affecting the sourness.  I started with a generic starter from King Arthur FLours two years ago and have baked some great bread but it just hasn't been very sour.  I experimented with long cool retardation times which didn't produce the tang that I'm looking for. So this post about higher frementation temps is very interesting!

 

Someone on this forum suggested SF starter from the nybakers.com and so I ordered some several weeks ago.  Boy, talk about an active starter!  I baked with it for the first time today and I have tangy sourdough - not as tangy as I would like so I will definitely try fermenting at higher temps. 

 

BTW, my original starter was pretty darn liquid - almost 100% hydration I would guess.  The SF starter had to have less water and more flour for some reason - haven't really figured that one out yet. And my loaf today had a finer crumb than I like so I will have to experiment with the hydration levels of the dough.  Thanks for the post!

GreenSpyder 2011 April 5

[quote=pattycom]I too live in the Denver area ... [/quote]

 

I'm in the Northglenn/Thornton area.  Drop by, and I'll give you some of my starter, show you my method, and let you taste a sample...heck, let's shake up a martini, while we're at it  Email me at [email protected].

[quote=pattycom]Someone on this forum suggested SF starter ... not as tangy as I would like so I will definitely try fermenting at higher temps. [/quote]

I've tried the SF starter, at first it smells right, but after a week or so it just becomes the usual starter that all my cultures taste like, losing the SF taste.  You're right, the temps seem to have some play in the role.  My warmer temps have created a more tangy taste...I'm not to the SF taste yet, but it seems to be getting closer.  I think this is the trick...thanks Secret_Ingredient!!!

[/quote]

Panevino 2011 April 6

I think you might need two different builds with two different hydration levels.  First a liquid stater, then build that into a stiff starter which then goes into the final dough.  Also, maybe, lower innoculation levels to extend the fermentation time of the starters.

 

Edit - I should have added, I would then do a shorter final dough proof with a higher innoculation, to ensure the yeast is quite active.

GreenSpyder 2011 April 6

I've been experimenting with feeding my starter between 8 & 24 hrs, and logging the times/noting the loaf quality.  I've noticed that the 24+ hrs made it smell very sour and tangy, so went exteme, and tried 35hrs.  (At 88F.)  My loaves were much less tastey and didn't rise at all.  The starter still bubbled furiously, and smelled very good.  I think I may have killed the yeast component, since it didn't smell yeasty anymore.  This seems congruent with the research presented by Gänzle, Ehmann, Hammes, (yeast doesn't tolerate high temps and low pH like Lactobacillus).  http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/full/64/7/2616

Since then I've added some flakes from an old starter I put away in the freezer, and it seems to have rejuvinated the culture.  My most recent batch used the rejuvinated starter 16hrs after feeding, and seems to be back on track.  I recommend drying and keeping a bag of crumbs (that would normally be thrown away) in the refrigerator, for just such instances.  It's good to know our hobby has a "reset buttun"!

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2011 April 6

 Spyder the weather her is getting warmer and the bread this last week had a more sour flavor to it.  I hope this means you have finally figured out how to make sourdough sour.

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