Why use a sourdough starter?


wendy 2015 May 17

A sourdough starter is used in place of commercial yeast to leaven the bread.  If you feed your starter more frequently it will reduce the sourness.  Don't let it sit so long between feedings that it develops hooch...that greyish liquid on top that smells like alcohol.

Also don't let your dough ferment for too long or put it in the fridge for a long retard.

Hope this helps.

Eigebroetli 2015 May 20
Have you ever tasted a real rye loaf? Like those sold in old german bakeries? Not even here in Switzerland we get these wonderfully tasteful loafs in the bakery. It is not just some flat bread filled with chemical stuff that is barely edible without sandwich sauce. There is an entire bouquet of flavors in a sourdough bread whether it is rye, wheat or spelt. Moreover you can't bake rye bread without sourdough. I mean you can bake it but not enjoy eating it. And that's what it's all about, right? Life's too short for bad food, especially for bad bread. So to answer your first question, the WHY: Sourdough brings taste. When done right, it brings a sweet fruity, sometimes a yogurt like taste. When done wrong you'll get a sour bread where the taste of acetic acid dominates. So coming to your second question, the HOW: when making a starter for the first time you have to feed it every day for about 15 to 20 days. Keep your starter warm. It produces lactic acid at around 28°C. That's the one you want. The colder it gets, the more acetic acid is produced. That's the one you don't want. So keep it warm. Use a tall, narrow container. Not a shallow one. Use warm water (never hot! About 40°C is fine). For my own starter I use a small bag filled with rice to keep it warm. I warm the bag in the microwave and put the starter on it. As the microwave is a rather small room, it keeps the temperature pretty well. Additionally I let the light on, this produces some heat as well. But make sure that no one will microwave your starter or it'll die. Once the starter is active you can let it in the fridge for about a month. So you don't have to bake only sourdough bread. After this long pause it takes about three days of constant feeding until it's as active as before. So I hope I have convinced you and our community is grown by one member. When enough people are asking for sourdough bread the bakeries will maybe go back to the traditional methods instead of chemicals.
amber108 2015 May 21

I make all my bread sourdough 100%. Sourdough doesnt have to be sour, sour just refers to the fermentation. Ive recently made danish type pastries and cakey soft sweet scrolls, and its true that there is the slightest hint of fermented/sour flavour but not a lot.

My husband doesnt like his bread too sour, I make a white bread which is barely sour at all, point being it can be done :)

As far as why to make sourdough as apposed to commercial yeasted; its much healthier, richer in flavour, keeps better, more natural, you dont rely on having access to packet yeast and you get this feeling that your partaking in a kind of ancient process thats very scientific and yet very natural.

If you wantsourdough thats less sour, make a slightly thicker leaven; it will be less alchohol and ferment less rapidly, feed at least once a day even if you dont bake that day, and if your ambient temp allows feed a few hrs before you mix.

Thats my 2 cents worth :)