Beautiful loaves BUT flat flavor of pain au levain w/ mixed starters. Why?
I have been baking Hamelman's pain au levain with mixed starters for over a year, my go-to bread. But, for some unknown reason, at least to me, the flavor of the last two bakes has been flat. What was great bread is now just OK bread. It looks the same, has good oven spring, deep brown crust, good, sweet-wheaty aroma as it cools. But when I bite into it, I feel let down. What was always delicious, tangy sourdough flavor is now ho-hum. Why is this happening? I've recently been feeding my white and rye starters twice a day (after reading about Hamelman's class on rye from other TFL'ers, including Varda's postings), and the dough and the oven spring and appearance have been beautiful. Only possibility is that the starter has been slightly more hydrated than before, more like 90%, when it was 75% in the past. Only the night before the bake, I followed Hamelman's formula to the letter (I previously added a little more whole wheat, borrowing about 1 oz. from the bread flour total). This time I did just as he wrote it. Anyone want to venture a guess? (I keep wondering if it's the flour. I'm using K.A. bread flour and whole rye from Whole Foods bulk bins, as always.)