Sourdough Culture Comparison

I started a new sourdough culture using wild yeast and bacteria from a naturally fermented apple cider. In this experiment I made two identical loaves of bread with the only difference being the sourdough culture each one got.

The new wild apple cider culture was only about a week old at the time of this experiment but was already doing a great job of fermenting the flour in my starter. My existing whole wheat starter was about 5 months old at the time of this experiment and has been used on many loaves of bread since I started building it up.

Whole wheat sourdough culture (left) vs wild apple cider culture (right)

Ingredients:

I used the same levain ingredients for each starter and allowed this to ferment for about 8 hours before adding it to my bread. This levain is enough for one loaf of bread without leaving any extra to continue the starter. The levain build is as follows:

  • 11g starter
  • 54g filtered water @ 85’F
  • 43g bread flour
  • 11g whole wheat flour

Both cultures fermented the levain just fine. When I was ready to autolyse, I added each respective levain to the flour and water and let that rest for 30 minutes.

The ingredients for each loaf was also the same and is as follows:

  • 400g bread flour
  • 23g spelt flour
  • 23g dark rye flour
  • 340g water @ 92’F
  • 108g levain
  • 11g sea salt

Bulk Fermentation:

Each loaf got 5 folds in the first 3 hours after mixing in the salt. The dough was a little tacky for each of them so I really tried to work it during the stretch and folds to help develop the gluten.

The loaves fermented at room temperature overnight for about 12 hours. After this fermentation, the new wild apple cider culture had risen a lot more than the whole wheat culture. I’m not sure if this is due to the whole wheat simply wanting more fermentation time or if this was all i was going to get out of it. Next time I’ll let the whole wheat culture ferment for a little longer to see if I can get any extra rise out of it.

Wild apple cider sourdough (left) vs whole wheat sourdugh (right) after 12 hour fermentation

Proofing

I proofed each loaf of bread in a banneton for just shy of three hours. At this time, each of them showed they were fully proofed based on the finger dent test.

Wild apple cider sourdough (left) vs whole wheat sourdough (right) fully proofed

Baking and Results

Each loaf of bread baked in a preheated 450’F oven in their own dutch oven for 38 minutes covered and then 16 minutes uncovered.

As expected based on the amount of rise during fermentation, the wild apple cider loaf had a much better oven spring to it. The whole wheat culture loaf still rose, it was just a little more compact.

Aside from the difference in rising, the loaves looked fairly similar. Each had some nice blistering around the bottom of the loaf and they naturally vented pretty well.

Taste-wise, the whole wheat culture has a much more sour bite to it. The sourness on this loaf was much more reminiscent of a traditional San Francisco style sourdough loaf. The wild apple cider culture was still sour, but with an added bit of funkiness to it. When I ate some if it a day later, it had some cherry notes to it which was very interesting.

Whole wheat sourdough culture (left) vs wild apple cider culture (right)
Whole wheat sourdough culture (left) vs wild apple cider culture (right)

I’m excited to keep building up the new wild apple cider culture to see how it progresses. I have a feeling that as time goes on it’ll get more sour and the funkiness will subside. The fact that it does a better job rising the bread is also promising.

Full Recipes

I wrote up a blog post for each respective loaf with more photos of each. You can find those below:

Whole wheat culture sourdough (front) vs wild apple cider sourdough (rear)

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