Sourdough Workshop: Manipulating The Sourness

February 13, 2014


I used to think a sourdough recipe would always make sour bread. As much as I love deliciously tangy sourdough, sometimes I want a neutral tasting bread, or even a sweet bread.

You can adjust the sourness of your sourdough recipes in a few ways:
  1. Let the bread ferment in the fridge overnight or longer before baking = more sourness.
  2. Change the amount of time you leave your starter out after feeding. 4-8 hours = not sour. 12-14 hours (overnight feeding) = sour.
  3. A recipe that requires more starter will be more sour than one that requires less.
  4. Don't feed your starter a 1:2:2 mix, use 1:1:1 for a more sour loaf. For example, 100 g of starter + 100 g of flour + 100 g of water. Because there's more old starter in the ratio, it's tangier.
  5. Unfed starter is sour. Add a some unfed starter when you're mixing the dough. For example, if your recipe requires 300 g of fed starter, use 200 g of fed starter, and 100 g of unfed starter. Note: the bread may take longer to rise, or not rise as much because the unfed starter is less active, so you don't want to use too much.
This way, using a fresh young (fed just a few hours before) starter for my bread, and baking the same day, I can make a loaf of sandwich bread that has very little sourness to it. You can also go from very little sourness to a very assertive tang, according to your preference, with any recipe. 

Before commercial yeasts, wild yeast was one of the few leavening agents available. Most traditional bread recipes can be converted (back) to using a sourdough starter with a bit of adjustment for hydration percentages. That's beyond my expertise but if you're interested in all things sourdough, do check out the Wild Yeast Blog.

Start from the beginning: Sourdough Workshop Index.

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