I don't know if this is the right place, but I just baked my first loaf with a new levain. I made it according to Dan Lepard's instructions in "The Handmade Loaf". It looks exactly like the pictures in his book, and did rise. However, my bread did not. Well, it rose a little bit over four hours (not doubled in height, that's for sure, but I put it in because I needed to go to bed!) and it rose and spread out a bit more in the oven. Certainly those babies are active. But perhaps not active enough?
On the other hand, this is my first bread from The Handmade Loaf and it felt way, way too sticky. I should mention that I can usually get an open crumb, or at least, I have achieved this in the past until I started with my new oven. And I did get a perfect open crumb even with a 66% whole wheat bread recently (Hamelman's Rustic Loaf as posted here). And I have been improving with that. However, this dough was so sticky I couldn't even really shape it. And I have shaped many a loaf. Perhaps my hydration was off in the levain, leading to an over-hydrated dough?
Which do you think is the culprit? Or both?
Edited to Add: Holy smokes. Just tasted it. It is amazing. Open crumb, with holes up to 1 cm... the crust is rather over-crusty, probably because I kept it in the 70 minutes because it was such a moist loaf. But the taste, the taste... it's like sourdough! Like something else. Like a really amazing bread I had somewhere once. Gosh I hope I get replies here so I can make a properly shaped bread because that is just amazing. My husband will go nuts. But it is literally as flat as two pancakes. (So the holes in the crumb take up like, 1/4th of the height of the crumb on average... heh.)