REAL™ Flavor —Sixth in the “Real Seven” of Sourdough Bread

REAL™ Flavor —Sixth in the “Real Seven” of Sourdough Bread

This is Part VI of a seven-part sourdough bread class at Abigail’s Oven taught by Martha Levie.

  1. REAL™Yeast
  2. REAL™ Wheat
  3. REAL™ Nutrition
  4. REAL™Water 
  5. REAL™ Salt 
  6. REAL™ Flavor (this post)
  7. REAL™World Tradition

This course centers on the “Real 7” things you need to make wholesome, nutritious bread at home.

Real Flavor

Things that are truly nutritious are usually delicious. We don’t always realize that in America, because we have this packaged world of convenience. If you go to most grocery stores and buy fresh produce, it’s just not going to taste that great.

These are products grown to look good and not bruise. Fruits and vegetables may have been picked green after being grown with pesticides in depleted soils. It comes from our industrial, “pump it out as fast as we can” culture.

"Colour is the single most important product-intrinsic sensory cue when it comes to setting people’s expectations regarding the likely taste and flavour of food and drink.”—Spence, C. “On the psychological impact of food colour.” Flavour 421 (2015).

How many of you have ever gone to the store to get some tomatoes for sandwiches only to buy something that looks really nice and red, but tastes like cardboard? When you get hold of an heirloom tomato that someone has grown locally, on the other hand, you find that it has bumps and cracks, but the taste is amazing. Heirloom tomatoes are flavorful because they are vine-ripened and nutritious.

I don't want salad

When we eat so-called nutritious food from the store with a vow to eat more healthy food, we often find it has no flavor. This leaves us asking, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just eat good food? And why don’t I like it?

Healthy food is equated with awful taste and junk food or fast food is equated with a delicious taste. So we have to suffer through awful taste in order to eat better, lose weight, etc.

In reality, actual nutrition is just the opposite. If you eat foods that are truly nutritious, they’re going to be bursting with real flavor.

Doritos Mania

Let’s look at an engineered flavor, like in spicy chips. You eat a chip, the MSG opens up your taste buds and you get a burst of flavor, but then it’s gone really fast (try chewing for 30 seconds and notice how that chip tastes).

After the first chip, you want more. So you eat another one and another one and another one and you don’t feel satisfied. These chips are engineered to be that way, to create a craving so you won’t stop eating.

When you eat real food, you get real flavor. In our bread, we want real flavor from things that are truly nutritious. 

In other countries, where food has more real flavor instead of manufactured bursts, people don’t have to eat a lot to feel full. Our food in America is so nutrient-lacking that we’re eating ourselves to death, yet we never feel satisfied because we’re lacking nutrition.

Today, finding real sourdough with real flavor can actually be tricky. Often, when you see bread labeled “sourdough,” it’s just regular commercial bread with a sour flavor added.

Real flavor is found in real sourdough bread. Ideally, you want that flavor to develop over eight hours or more of fermentation. In fact, sourdough bread can actually taste better the second day because the flavors improve as they sit.

Something that is truly nutritious has lots of real flavor. This means we have to buy truly nutritious ingredients. Once you know the secrets of real sourdough, you’ll be able to  transform the flavor and nutrition of your diet and improve your family’s lifestyle. We’re excited to help you connect with real yeast, real wheat, real nutrition, real water, and real salt, all for real flavor.

Marths Levie

(Next Monday, look for the seventh in this series: The “7 Reals” of Sourdough Bread.)

Have a good day

Martha Levie


Back to blog


If you’re looking for a milder sourdough flavor, there are several adjustments you can make throughout the baking process:


Feeding schedule: Feed your starter more frequently to keep it active and bubbly. This helps break down the lactic acid produced during fermentation, reducing sourness. Aim for twice-daily feedings in a warm environment.
Shorter ferment: Don’t let your starter over-ferment before incorporating it into the dough. A shorter rise will result in less acidity development.
Use mature starter: A well-established starter naturally produces less lactic acid, resulting in a gentler sourness. Try feeding and maintaining your starter for at least a week before baking.

Water temperature: Use warmer water (around 90°F/32°C) for the dough. Warmer water promotes yeast activity and helps counterbalance the acidity, leading to a milder flavor.
Hydration level: A higher hydration level (more water) dilutes the acidity, creating a softer crumb and less intense sourness. Aim for a 70-80% hydration level by weight.
Sweeteners: Adding a small amount of honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar can subtly counteract the sour flavor without masking the unique sourdough taste. Start with 1-2 tablespoons per cup of flour and adjust to your preference.
Salt: Salt balances the flavors in the bread, including the sourness. Use the recommended amount in your recipe (typically 1-2% of the flour weight).
Bulk Fermentation:

Shorter bulk ferment: Allow the dough to rise for a shorter time than usual. Aim for a 50% increase in volume instead of doubling. This minimizes acid production and results in a milder sourdough flavor.
Room temperature: Keep the dough at a slightly warmer temperature during bulk fermentation (around 75°F/24°C). This encourages yeast activity and reduces sourness development.

Baking temperature: Bake the bread at a slightly higher temperature than usual (around 400°F/200°C). This speeds up the baking process and prevents further acid development, resulting in a less sour finish.
Baking time: Don’t overbake the bread. Start checking for doneness a few minutes early and remove it from the oven once cooked through to avoid dryness and increased sourness.
Additional tips:

Use white flour or a blend of white and whole wheat flour instead of solely whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour tends to contribute a naturally tangier flavor.
Try adding toasted nuts or seeds to the dough for a different flavor dimension that can mask some of the sourness.
Experiment with different sourdough recipes and techniques to find the perfect level of sourness for your taste.
Remember, taste is subjective, so don’t be afraid to adjust these suggestions to your preference. Enjoy your journey into creating the perfect, not-so-sour sourdough bread!

Darryl Alder

One question to which I’ve been trying to find an answer, is whether I have to choose between flavor and nutrition in sourdough. From what I’ve read it’s the bacteria more than the yeast that predigest the gluten and neutralize the phytic acid, in addition to producing the lactic and acetic acids that create the sour flavor. If I want less of a sour flavor (or none at all), do I have to sacrifice those nutritional benefits as well? I realize that there are multiple ways to decrease the sourness of a loaf of bread, only one of which is to favor the yeast over the bacteria with a lower fermentation temperature; but whether the other methods like increasing the proportion of starter in a recipe = decreasing fermentation time, more frequent feedings or using starter before it reaches its peak would also decrease the nutritional benefits, I don’t know. Thoughts?


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.