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, (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,


479 users have voted.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 November 11


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


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.

Graham's picture
Graham 2010 November 13

Hey Rossnroller, LeadDog and GreenSpyder

Please treat each other nicely! LeadDog and GreenSpyder have a right to express their opinions here, but it stops with deconstructive criticism. As always if you have any questions or need assistance, please contact myself or Graham.

Graham and Maedi

GreenSpyder 2010 November 15

Using whole wheat flour in my starter, 1/4 whole wheat (by weight) in the bread, and more hydration in both produced the most sour bread so far.  The crumb was quite dense, I may have let it proof too long.  (4 hrs at 70F, then 12 hrs at 55F, then 4 hrs at 82F.)  I didn't get any oven spring.  Bread this sour makes excellent french toast!

GreenSpyder 2010 November 21

I may be wrong, but isn't ascorbic acid a preservative?  Something added to keep bacterial growth (LAB) to a minimum?


I keep my bulk ferments (doughballs) in ziplock bags, then squeeze all the air out to retain moisture, and cleanliness.  I can measure the CO2 production this way.  I've been making a "control loaf" and a loaf with ascorbic acid the last few weeks.  I notice the rise and CO2 production is MUCH greater in the loaf without the ascorbic acid. 


This week I made a 300 gram flour loaf with only 1/2 tsp ascorbic acid, and it hardly produced any gas in the bag, and rise is noticably less.  The goal of sourdough is to promote microbial growth, and I think the ascorbic acid is hindering this.  This is the last time I will add ascorbic acid.  It does make it more sour, but I think it's artificial, and a hinderance to the process.  I'll use this bottle of ascorbic acid in my drinks the next time I get the flu.


I've been using two heaping TBSP of wheat flour in my loaves in addition to the unbleached white flour, and the process seems to happen faster, while still giving me a nice white loaf.  I've gotten some very sour loaves, although not the tartness, I'm tring to achive.


I've read about a "Type-II Sourdough" technique.  This is where a high temp, accelerated starter is added to the dough for flavor, and yeast is used to get a decent rise.  I wonder if this isn't what Boudin and SLO Sourdough are using.  I emailed both companies about this, and got no replies.


LeadDog, how's the "spit-starter" coming along?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 November 21

 Well I did spit in it to get the lactobacillus sanfrancisco but have read since then that any starter that is left out on the counter will end up with it in about two weeks.  The last loaf had very nice flavors and reminded me of San Luis Sourdough.  The flavors of the bread were even better than San Luis Sourdough.  I'm thinking my starter is still getting better.  I'm also making some changes to the starter to get it more like the way I want it to be.  The flour I'm making bread with has home milled flours in it and 75% bread flour.  The home milled flours are wheat, barley, and rye.  Could be I have the blend do to just what I want but will try a few more loaves to make sure.  Here is a picture of the bread.


The flash wipes out the crumb but I was very happy with the openness of the crumb.  The bread has a very nice chewiness to it that I ready like.


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