San Francisco Sourdough

I don’t love sourdough because the sour flavor isn’t my thing. Fortunately, my starter isn’t very sour, so the bread tastes okay to me.

So I just got this great new book, Advanced Bread and Pastry:

Advanced Bread and Pastry

Advanced Bread and Pastry

which has a lot of good text, a gazillion formulas, and one of the crummiest indexes I’ve ever seen. One of the formulas is for San Francisco sourdough bread. This is supposed to be pretty sour, which Dr. Science likes.

The sourness of the dough is a result of encouraging the growth of lactobacilli that produce acetic acid and discouraging the growth of lactobacilli that produce lactic acid. The lactobacilli that produce acetic acid prefer a drier, cooler environment, so if you use a stiff starter and let the dough proof in the refrigerator for hours and hours, you get bread with a more-sour flavor. That’s what this formula calls for. The stiff starter is fed with 2 parts flour and 1 part water. After 8 hours, it was obviously ripe but it was quite dry:

Stiff sourdough starter

Stiff sourdough starter

That looks pretty shaggy, doesn’t it? I’ve since learned that you should knead a stiff starter, not just stir it, as I did. So I’ll do that right next time. It might also be better to feed it several times, not just once, but the formula says to feed it once, so that’s what I did. The formula calls for a small amount of rye flour, which also contributes to the sour flavor.

Once the starter was ripe, I made the dough, which was pretty wet, ironically:

Sourdough

Sourdough

That ferments for 3 hours with one fold. Just that one fold really made a difference. Here it is all risen:

Risen sourdough

Risen sourdough

After that, it was all downhill, unfortunately. The next step is to form the loaves and let them proof in the fridge for 12 to 16 hours. That’s 2 lb of dough for two 1-lb loaves. Next time I’ll make one loaf. Anyway, I’m always unhappy with the loaves (or bagels or whatever) when they’ve risen in the fridge. I must be doing something wrong, although I believe I’m following the directions correctly. The dough always rises strangely, maybe because the refrigerator has areas that are more or less cold. This bread didn’t brown very well in the oven, and the oven spring was pretty mediocre, and the crumb was pretty tight. Dr. Science says it’s more sour than previous sourdough bread, so that’s a step in the right direction.

Next time, the plan is to follow all the directions except I’ll just give the dough another fold at the end of the first fermentation and then pop it in the fridge for the 12 to 16 hours and then form one boule and let that rise and bake that and see what happens.

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