Rats! sour wild bread again!

I was SO sure that I’d resolved my sour wild bread problem!! It WASN’T sour last time….

I made wild bread again yesterday. And I thought everything was going along exactly as before. The starter smelled sweet. The dough smelled sweet. It rose beautifully and there were beautiful big holes in the crumb. And yet the resulting bread had a distinctly sour smell and flavour (sorry no photos, I was too dejected to get the camera).

Well, it wasn’t horribly sour. Here’s how the conversation went last night at dinner:

me: (worried) It rose nicely but it’s not quite as light-weight this time.

T: It looks beautiful.

me: (dejected) It smells sour.

T: It smells a bit sour but it’s beautiful. Look at those holes!

me: (whimpering) It smells sour.

T: It smells a bit sour. But it tastes great! It’s not nearly as sour as it was and the texture is perfect. Taste it!

me: (glumly) Well, it doesn’t taste as sour as it smells….

I think it might be a temperature thing. I didn’t use warm water when mixing the dough and the kitchen was still cool enough that I had to put the dough in the oven (with only the light turned on) when it was rising.

In fact, the bread went quite well with lentil soup and various cheeses. Silly me! I SHOULD have taken a photo of the yellow lentil soup at least. It was fabulous.

But I’m not quite certain what step to take next to ensure that the bread will not be sour. Maybe the section on sourness of starters in The Bread Bible will shed some light.


Eeek!!! Might I have to follow Susan’s (Wild Yeast) advice to weigh the ingredients? :stomp:


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  • Alice

    I’m so sorry to hear that:( I know how frustrated you must be. I hope it is a temperature thing as that is at least controllable to some extent. Are you supposed to mix the dough with warm water? I did see your post on the fresh loaf site (i’m mamasita there) and I saw that you are looking into a proofing box. I have in the past used a cooler and raised or lowered the temp. with a bowl of warm or ice water inside. It keep its pretty steady depending on how exact it needs to be.

  • ejm

    I was just looking on the internet about proofing boxes, Alice, and came across sourdoughbreads.com: How To Make A Proofing Box. It is exactly as you’ve described: to use a cooler. They suggest putting a thermometer and a lightbulb inside, as well as using a folded towel to stop the lid from closing completely. The towel apparently acts as a thermostat.

    As for mixing dough with warm water, I only have to do that in the winter – to bring the final temperature of the dough up to around 20C. Because I’m using rather cool flour. Our kitchen is around 15C in the winter.

    Now that the weather has warming up (at least it WAS warming up) we’ve lowered the thermostat in the house to 10C to stop the furnace from going on needlessly during the day. The day that I made the bread, it was unseasonably cool – but the sun was shining and I was digging in the garden so didn’t realize just how cool it still was in the kitchen. In retrospect, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the furnace didn’t kick in a couple of times the night before as the built-up starter was bubbling. I’m guessing that THAT is when the sourness really got started.

    By the way, thank you for the commiseration.


  • one of the several sisters

    Well, our father might say something like —- “Ahh! Whaddyamean sour!? It tastes great! I like it!”

    What I like about your method is that when it counts you can actually make edible bread from stuff floating around in the air.

    Love reading this blog even though I wouldn’t dream of baking.