no sourdough taste


I made two loaves of sourdough boule yesterday, but they had very little sourdough taste.  I used Peter Reinhardt's recipe in his book, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".  It uses about a cup of starter to make a preferment, then preparing the dough the following day.  The loaves were beautiful, had a wonderful texture and crumb, but not any real sourdough flavor.  (BTW, this was my second time making sourdough bread).

The first time I made sourdough, I used a different recipe that called for starter, but also commercial yeast.  It was a good bread and had sourdough flavor, but I was looking for more.

I used the same starter in both, which is a homemade starter.  I also don't use it very often, I keep it in the fridge, and when I go to use it, I warm it up to room temp and feed it.


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farinam's picture
farinam 2013 December 24

Hello sherstone,

Strictly, the 'sour' in sourdough refers to the much more concentrated acid taste of the culture (sourdough) rather than to the taste of the bread produced using sourdough as a leavening agent.  In fact, bread produced with nothing more that sourdough, flour, water and salt can taste sweet, particularly when very fresh.

The other thing is that some commercial bread that is sold labelled as sourdough is artificallly flavoured and does not necessarily represent what bread made with sourdough should taste like.

All that said, there are a couple of ways that the taste of the bread might be intensified.  One is to increase the proportion of starter to fresh flour so that there is more acid present to start with.  The other is to make more time available for the acid to be generated and this might be done by retarding activity by cooling the dough during development and proving.  Although the cooling affects both yeasts and the acid generating bacteria, the effect is slightly less on the latter and this is why you might get a more acid result.

I have also read reports that a stiff starter will produce a more acid flavoured loaf.

The other effect that you might notice is that as the baked loaf ages, the flavour intensity increases.  I can only imagine that this is caused by the reduction in  moisture content that occurs with time.

Good luck with your projects.


leaven knight 2014 February 19

Thanks for that explanation Farinam! I have also read that stiff starters end up in a more acidic loaf, any ideas why this is the case?

Montreal 2014 March 3

Hey Leven Knight,

The acitic acid will develop the sourness in your bread and the lactic acid will develop your flavor.

Their is several ways to increase the sourness in your bread ( acidic acid)

1- After mixing, retard your bulk fermentation between 38 to 40 degree in the fridge and keep track of your PH level and take notes every  4 hours for your future reference. The best way to do this is to make 4 bread of 500 gr each for instance and pull them out of the fridge at 4 hours interval and note which one you prefer after baking This way you will have a frame of reference to base your receipe on.

Take note that this can be done wilt a liquid levain at 100% hydration or with a firm levain at 60% hydration. This technique has nothing to do with how firm or liquid your levain is


2- Use baker's math to obtain a 60% levain. Then you will have to play with the feeding of your levain in order to make it peak at the desired Ph. In other words if you feed your starter a ration of 1:1, it will peak relatively fast as their is a large protion of levain to fresh flour. On the other hand if you feed your firm levain in a ratio of 8:1, it might take between 12 to 16 hours to peak and you willl indeed develop a lot our sourness. The combination of 60% hydration levain and large ratio of flour to your starter will allow you to obtain the sourness that you are looking for in due time.

Keep in mind that in both method you will need experimentation in order to obtain your desired sourness. Also the more that you can  control the temperature the more predictable your experiment  will be. In other word, the only way to do this experiement and have reliable data is to have a proofer at a fix temperature. Betwwen 68 to 72 dregree will give you the best results


Good luck and happy baking





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