I have had so many people tell me that the reason they don’t like homemade sourdough bread is because it is too dense and sour. On my list of things to do this week (the one that is never-ending…), was writing an article about dense, sour sourdough bread. Today I received a questionnaire that one of my class attendees filled out. The question that caught my eye was, “What are your greatest concerns with baking sourdough bread?” Her answer–“My bread has always been too sour and too dense–my family just didn’t like it.” I knew I had to address this problem immediately!
One way you can solve the sour/dense problem is to purchase non-sour, non-dense pseudo-sourdough at any grocery store, but most of the time it is not a true sourdough; it has had vinegar added to it for a touch of sour and is made with commercial yeast. It is nutritionally lacking and not good for much. The sourdough I make at home and the one I teach in my classes is bona fide fermented sourdough bread! “But,” you say, “Is it dense and overly sour?” No! Believe it or not, it is light and fluffy with a pleasing sourdough taste.
Here are a couple of the secrets:
The Starving Starter Secret–Starters scare potential home bakers to death! Fear no more. The secret? Feed your starter enough! Your starter needs regular feedings. How do you feel when you miss a couple of meals? Lethargic and tired, not bubbly and active. Your starter feels the same way when its not fed properly. Feed your starter 2 or 3 times a day for 3 or 4 days before you’re going to bake. When I first started making sourdough bread, I would feed my starter once a day or keep it in the fridge and when I took it out, I would only feed it for one day before baking. What was my bread like? Dense and Sour.
The “It’s Too Hot in the Kitchen” Secret–Put frankly, heat=sour in the sourdough bread world. If you are letting your bread rise in or on your oven, you’ll be guaranteed a quicker rise with sour result. The optimal temperature for your sourdough to rise is around 73 degrees. That is way cooler than you may think. If your house is too warm in the summer try letting it rise in a cool basement. If you keep a warm house in the winter, place your bread in a cool part of the house. Using an overnight-in-the-fridge-ferment should also yield a milder bread. In addition, when you make your dough, use cooler water if the room is warmer than you think it needs to be.