About the Sourness of the dough


Smile 2010 April 13

Hi all,

I did several times a starter at home and made a sourdough as I learned from baking course, I have learned to use 250 - 300 g starter for 1 kg flour. I live in the counrty side and our old people who tasted it told me it smells too much strange and in the times they made it daily they did bread without any sourness, I asked them they way they did, and as they told me about 180 g will be enough per 1 kg flour, but still smells and tasts too much sour for them.

I started a new starter by: half wholemeat + half white flour adding about 2/3 water, Waited for 72 hours and started to make my bread with them.

My question is:

1.I made now my 4th generation bread, If I use my leavin for more generations, Is the sourness will be less with the time??

2. If I'm feeding with flour and water once in 2 days will the sourness be same as feeding daily?


any ideas of how to make less sour my bread will help me a lot.

(sorry for my bad english, Its my 3th language)



Alie0Bronwynn 2010 April 13

Hi Smile,


From what I've learned the sourness of bread is from the starter - and the older the starter, the more sour the bread.  the other thing that can increase the sourness of your bread is by letting it rise in the refridgerator overnight.


To cut back on the sourness two things you could do is 1) add sugar to the recipe.  2) Try using store bought yeast instead of your starter.


Good luck!


Smile 2010 April 13

Hi Alie,

Thank you for the quick respond, When I do a loaf of bread I'm adding some sugar and it goes nicely, No problams at all, but I took the recipe of our old traditional bread which made by : Flour, Water, Salt and starter. Then Its being too much sour, according to our old generation knowledge, They used to make a bread daily and the starter they used at summer time was less more than they used at winter cold time, but they said starter 2 days old was same as one day old and didnt effect the sourness of the dough and used same amount of have a bread.

I m confused a bit now, If I use 250 g will give the more sourness than 180 g or it will effect only the time of rising the dough?

and you said "the older the starter, the more sour the bread" - Does it mean If I use it daily I will get my breads more sour, Or you mean the more time I m not renewing the more sour it becomes?

I will try anyway, and will research about the topic and will make some more experiances, I want to back old style making bread.... :))


Alie0Bronwynn 2010 April 13

Hi Smile,


I've been baking Sourdough now for about 3 years - but by no means an expert!  When I first have a starter, it's hardly sour at all.  Then, over times, it becomes more sour with age until it stops becoming more sour.  I don't think the sour taste is affected any longer by how often you feed it.


Do you use rye flour?  How long do you have the bread rise for?


I'll try to answer - but there are definitely more experienced bakers on this forum that can answer!


Good luck!


wforrest_s 2010 April 13

 In my experience the less starter used creates a longer proof time which equals a more sour bread.  What I do is use more starter.  After I complete the dough for the first rise It proofs for four hours (doubles)  I then form the loafs and proof for another four hours (doubled) then bake.  The bread has a light texture and is very moist and tastes like regular white bread.  The only difference is the great body and chew that comes from sourdough.  If using a greater amount of starter and shorter proof times do not decrease the sourness of your loaf look for another starter. Starters are different, some very sour, others very mild.  Questions please ask,  If you would like further instruction on my methods just ask.  Have a great time learning about sourdough, it's been great for me, best of luck


Following is a link to one of my manic baking weekends, enjoy


Gary1's picture
Gary1 2010 April 13

I think the sourness is made by letting the dough raise for about 3 days. I have made quite a few things with sourdough and the only sour I tasted was bread with slow raise.

Smile 2010 April 13

Thanx for sharing your experiance,

About your questions:

I do NOT use rye flour, I do use wholewheat flour and white wheat flour.

About the timing of the rises of my dough, I tried several ways of dough from different cultures, If we talk about loaf bread as I see in this site many times, I used half of the amount of the flour with almost the water I will need for the whole, I added my leavin and waited for 8 hours, after that I added the second half of the flour and the other ingredients, I was kneeding about 10-15 minutes and I shaped it as I like it to be and it was great really. I couldnt feel the sourness, the problam is with my traditional bread....

Is the rye flour less sour than and wheat flour as using it for leavin?


Smile 2010 April 14

You do a great job in sourdough, all my regards to you. I liked the results of your work, I m sure it take for you some time to learn and to know how to work with that things. my questions to you is:

What kind of leaven are you using?

Starter =  leaven with 3-6 g of yeast

French polish and Italian Bega has more amount of yeast.

I prefer without yeast!

 I have many questions but not sure if I can type all of them in english :)

One small thing I may share: I did new leaven today.. white flour + some wholewheat and  yughourt.

Thanx for sharing your experiance, I try to find all about the sourness, after I will try the leaven which made with yoghurt, I will see if its the same the way it smells.


FlaBreadBaker 2010 April 14

I experience much the same issues with things getting just too sour.  Since I live in Florida, my challenge is one of temperature.  I'm not able to leave Mother out to develop as I did in the winter months.  Spring becomes an activity of open air fermentation for awhile, then into the refrig to slow things down and then back out again for final development.  The same happens with the sourdough and the bread itself.  I just can't leave it out to develop for that long or it soon rivals the pucker of our Florida lemons.  You might want to try less fermentation time on the counter balanced with time in the refrig. 

chrissy 2010 April 15


Hi Smile

Maybe you should..........

use less Sourdough in your Bread. 250-300 gr. sounds about right, but if you think it tastes to sour, use less.Try 100 gr. per 1 Kg of flour!That should be enough to give your bread just a hint of sourness.If it is still to sour for you then maybe use 50 gr. per 1 Kg flour.

The point of Sourdough is that the Bread should have that special Sour taste and if 50 gr. is still to sour,then you can make Bread without any sourdough.

I also know of people who only use 2 TBS of Sour dough per 1 Kg of flour.But then why bother??

I am not sure,but I believe that even if you feed your Sour dough only every 2 Days, the Sourness will still be the same. And also if it is the 4th generation,it is still the same I think.


Depending on location and temperature,I learned, the taste of Sour dough can turn out much different .

I hope that will help you with your next Bread!!

Good luck

rossnroller 2010 April 15

[quote=chrissy]The point of Sourdough is that the Bread should have that special Sour taste and if 50 gr. is still to sour,then you can make Bread without any sourdough.

I also know of people who only use 2 TBS of Sour dough per 1 Kg of flour.But then why bother??[/quote]

Many, including me, would disagree with this. It's a misnomer that sourdough bread 'should' be sour in flavour. It all depends on the type of bread. One of the reasons behind this common misunderstanding is the term 'sourdough' - which simply means natural leaven. It doesn't mean bread made from natural leaven 'should' be sour! In fact, most sourdough bread is not sour in flavour!

There's an interesting excerpt from ABC Regional Radio's Bush Telegraph program, in which Australian 'father-of-sourdough', John Downes, makes this very point. The program is no longer downloadable from the ABC archives page, but a staff member kindly made it available to me, and I have embedded it on my blog here. Have a listen if interested. I found this program fascinating.


wforrest_s 2010 April 19

You asked what kind of starter I use.  I use a San Francisco starter I purchased from Sourdo.com.  It is very mild and very active.  I do not use yeast, just the starter.

My recipe is

Dry = 6 cups All Purpose white flour, 1 Table spoon Kosher salt, 2 Tablespoons sugar.

Wet = 3 cups active starter, 3/4 cups milk, 3/4 cups hot water added to the milk, 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a mixer with a dough hook place all the dry and whisk,  In a bowl you can pour out of combine all the wet and whisk.  With the mixer on low add the wet slowly so the wet does not pool.  After the wet is in knead for 5 min.  Take out of the bowl and form a ball.  back into the bowl coated with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Cover and rise till doubled.  When doubled form your bread, brush with olive oil and rise till doubled.  Brush with olive oil and slash the tops and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes and the internal temp is 190 to 200 deg.  Cool and enjoy.  this is a very moist and not sour bread,  I use it for sandwiches for about two days.

Smile 2010 April 16

Hi again,

I'm so happy to find such a site and community that interested like me in baking and sourdough :), Everytime I have some minutes I come and read about others experiances which I find it interesting.

Fla Bread baker -  I do live also in hot weather place, I'm located in the middle east so I know that at summer time need always to feed the leaven or it becomes more sour than who live in cold palces, Our old generation told me that at summer time they used half of the leaven at summer than the winter.

chrissy and rossnroller - My question came to this both points which is true :o)

I will go on my research about this topic:

the sourness of my bread in this cases:

1.using small amount of leaven in my dough and logner rising times.

2. using more leaven in my dough and shorter irisng times.

I called times to ask my chef about the subject, but he's busy and I will call again to hear from professional baker about it. since we have holidays soon I will try to go on my researches and after a few days I will try to talk to him.

wforrest_s :

your bread in the facebook pics shows your nice work and experiance in sourdough. I will try for sure your recipe in a few days after I will test another kind the leaven that I made now. thanx for sharing.

For now, I cant do well my research bacause its spring time and we have daily different weather which effects the rising times.

the news about my breads:

I did new leaven based in yughourt now to see also how does it tests and the differences between different bases :) waiting now to my dough to be raisen, my first bread will be ready at today at evening.


Smiles and Be Happy all !!!!


Millciti's picture
Millciti 2010 April 17

Hi Smile and all others here,

There have been some great discussions on sourness at this site before, most evidence actually points to the hydration and ripeness of your starter making your bread more or less sour.  Sometimes it is good to look at the older posts here to give the newbies a fresh look!  So I did a little research looking for some posts that I read here when I first started...

Although this forum quoted below was about bread not being sour enough, there is a lot of great info from Dom about what makes your bread more or less sour. The whole discussion can be found here http://sourdough.com/forum/topic/90


by SourDom · More by this author { 2006 March 19 } a couple of thoughts:

If your starter behaves appropriately (full of bubbles, layer of froth, doubles in volume) with refreshment, and makes your dough rise during prooving, it is probably not the starter.

1. Refreshment
My starter like yours lives in the fridge, but I find that it takes a couple of refreshes to come back to life. You could try refreshing twice (at 12 or 24 hour intervals) before incorporating into your dough

2. Retarding
Your current bulk fermentation (first rising) seems quite short.- You mentioned using the fridge to extend proving.
Try putting the dough in the fridge for 12 or 24 hours after mixing, then get it out for bulk fermentation and shaping. You could put the shaped loaf back in the fridge again for 12 hours before getting it out to rise before baking.
This will usually intensify the sour flavour  Here is a good hint - shorten the 1st fermentation and the other rise times as well - maybe try shortening one thing at a time to see which affects your flavor most.    Also if your normal "room" temperature averages above 70F or 22c you may need to shorten the times that your dough is at room temperature. 

3. Flour
I have a stronger sour flavour if the flour mixture includes rye or wholemeal.another good hint

4. Taste
Sourdough is an acquired taste, and some people find that they don't like it initially because of its sourness, but grow to love it. Is it possible that your actually not noticing the flavour as much any more??

I wouldn't add vinegar to my dough or milk. (I find that milk in the dough tends to make the loaf a softer, milder loaf anyway rather than more sour)".something worth trying - add milk - either dry or liquid.

although this was about making bread more sour you can reverse Dom's suggestions to help you make a less sour bread.   


Another post that was on the opposite subject has a great answer by Danubian for less sour. Danubian is a  very experienced sourdough baker and his advice is always good. The whole discussion can be found here:   http://sourdough.com/forum/topic/1156 

Mild acidic profile

by Danubian · More by this author { 2008 February 25 } "TeckPoh wrote:
Frankly, I don't mind having some 'unsour' strain (if there is indeed one) to cater to some local tastebuds.  Waiting for more input...."

TP, if you're seeking a less acidic bread, reduce the floor time of the sourdough as well as the final proof. Do not refrigerate on final proof or use a sourdough that's been in the fridge but one refreshed. It should not linger after maturity but use directly.

To clarify, instead of allowing your sourdough to ferment for 8-12 hours, allow it to ferment for 3 hours and refresh, 3 hours again and refresh, but make the absorption level at first & second stage 200% and don't just mix to combine, incorporate some air with a little beating. Up to 4 stages at 3 hours each, third and fourth with absorption at 150% and 100% respectively, each stage will further yeast production and allow the final bread dough to gas sufficiently prior to intense acid production and increased acid volume. 22-24'C is best at each stage.

Notice that a fermenting sourdough gases more in the early part of the fermentation? That's the time that the yeast is most active. If I were to graph the development of the pH it begins to take a lower trajectory until about the 4 hour mark. Conversely the TA begins to take a higher trajectory at about the same time. To shorten the time frames between dilutions with flour and water encourages yeast growth at the expense of Lactics. Further, to increase  water and incorporate air favours yeast development.

Final tip, don't use diastatic malt for this one in either sourdough or bread dough. It follows that a lower extraction flour will reduce the TA and keep the pH higher.

Of course, the fine tuning of the variables in your kitchen makes it difficult to explain here and now but you can work it through and achieve some varying acid profiles. "

Hope this helps!! 


wforrest_s 2010 April 19

I made a typo in my post,  It is to be 3/4 cup 2% milk added to 3/4 cup hot water for a total of 1.5 cups.  I posted 3 cups hot water. 

larrisb 2010 June 18

Does Heat affect sourness in my starter and therefore my bread!


I'm new to the sourdough scene (january01,2010)!- but I've noticed that

My bread is much less 'sour' (=delicious) , now that it is hotter outside !


Millciti's picture
Millciti 2010 June 20

Most baker posts on increasing sourness point to using a lower hydration starter, try 75% or 67%.  I think because the culture is probably more concentrated it seems to speed things up.  Also lately since it has been so hot and muggy here, in the Mid-west, have been retarding my loaves overnight in the fridge.  I mix up my bread in the evening and bulk prove it for a 2-3 hours.  Then about an hour and 1/2 before bed I form it into loaves, after deflating the largest bubbles, and put it in pans or bannetons ready to bake and cover.  Right before bed I put it in the fridge.  I have a delayed start timer on my oven so I set it for about an hour before I get up.  My alarm goes off and I put the loaves in the oven with steam.   I use the slash and spray the loaf with water then cover with a pan sprayed on the inside with water method.   Put the covered loaves in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes to snooze till the alarm goes off.  Then I uncover the loaves and give them another 10-15 minutes to brown.  I have a stone paver in my oven, and I usually set the heat to about 450F.  If I am using a bread pan, I invert a same sized pan over the loaf again sprayed inside with water.  I learned the hard way that spraying water inside a hot oven can lead to losing a very expensive light fixture in my oven.

Check out this discussion  http://sourdough.com/forum/stiff-vs-liquid-starter

Thanks for reminding me to switch one of my starters back to a more hydrated state before summer really heats up!

Let me know if changing the hydration helps.




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