My new starter is only about a week and a half old, but today I was able to make sour bread with it!
Last year I tried my first starter, and while the starter was sour, I could never figure out how to get nice sour bread. I then got busy with other things, and the next thing I knew, my starter was looking quite black and fuzzy in the back of the fridge. Ew.
My new starter at 4 days old:
This is from sourdolady's starter recipe; rye flour and OJ the first days, then moving to a white flour and water feeding.
The bread I made today:
I wasn't trying for a such an open crumb as this; I was mostly interested in getting sour flavor. The bread turned out quite flat!
The below paragraph is my notes to myself on how I made this bread; skip it if you get bored!
I didn't really use anyone's recipe...I combined a cup of starter with two cups of flour and some water, with a tablespoon or two of rye thrown in. I let it autolyse for 20 minutes then added salt (1/2 - 1 tsp) and kneaded. I kept the dough VERY wet. I'm a beginning baker so I had some trouble handling it. It did, however, develop nicely while kneading. Then I refrigerated the dough overnight as it was getting late. This morning I pulled it out of the fridge and let it resume fermenting on the countertop. It was about 70* in our house. The dough took a very long time to rise at first; the internal temp of the dough didn't get above 70* till after the folding. I folded (ala JMonkey) it when the dough was double and let it ferment again. Then I shaped it, degassing just a little, and let it rise in the coldest room of the house. When it was doubled, I put my baking stone in the oven and heated it to 550*. I slashed the dough (which didn't work so well; it was too wet for me to use my usual technique of Very Sharp Knife) and then threw it in while spraying the oven with water. There was hardly ANY oven spring, which is likely a result of my abysmal shaping skills. I turned the heat down to 475* after 5 minutes, then let it bake for 25 additional minutes, until the bread was golden brown and sounded hollow. I impatiently let it cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then eagerly sliced into it. Crispy crust, lovely large irregular holes, and best of all, sour taste! I'm sure I can get better sour bread in the months to come as my starter matures, but for a first bread, this was pretty incredible!
Next time: work on shaping technique. Like Floydm said, a baker needs an iron hand in a velvet glove. I think I didn't get very good tension or a good seal. I also think I left too much air in there before shaping.
Let me know if you see anything that can be improved!