Reader Lou asks, since he lives on the East Coast and has never had any luck making a strong tasting starter, if I have any suggestions for getting more yeasty and/or bacterial flavor into home-baked bread. The first thing I’d suggest, Lou, is investigating some of those sourdough bread flavorings that you can buy over at King Arthur Flour. They contain various acids in powdered form, plus other natural x, y’s and z’s that give bread a more robust taste.
Otherwise, a former commercial baker from New York City that I met over Thanksgiving clued me in to a trick I’d never heard of before. He told me that the Brooklyn bakery he once worked for would produce a “sourdough” by making a thick slurry out of compressed yeast that the bakers would work into the dough during the final shaping. They’d turn the cake yeast into a flavoring in other words. This dude told me that they’d put in so much extra cake yeast in the dough it turned the loaves downright stanky. What a weird idea! But apparently they sold tons of the stuff.
You could try that! Just don’t let the loaves proof too long or the rise will be explosive! Get back to me if you decide to take up the challenge, because I’ll be darn curious.