Hello everyone - this is my first post on a forum ever - not entirely sure of the etiquette so your patience is appreciated.
I'm trying to figure out whether my starter has the right bacteria present and is active enough. You see, I've made about half a dozen batches of loaves from this starter but am not happy with the rise I'm getting. My starter is about 6 weeks young and was created on the basis of 1:1 organic plain flour to water. I feed it as follows:
1 part starter : 1/2 part flour : 1/2 part water
Every three or four days I cut it back to its original size. So total starter weight goes 100g, 200g, 400g, 800g, then cut back to 100g + 100g of food, and so on. I've been keeping it in a plastic mixing bowl at about 20 degrees Celsius give or take 2 or so degrees on either side of that and have been feeding it daily.
The starter smells "right" - something like a combination between vomit, awesome bready goodness and yoghurt. It has irregular bubbles of about .5cm in diameter and has the consistency of thick pancake batter. Having regard to all of those indicators I would have thought my starter is both active enough and sufficient to cause my loaves to rise a bit more than they do.
In terms of mixing and baking I'm following the book Bourke Street Bakery to the letter.
I am pleased with both the crumb (to the extent that it has awesome irregular bubbles throughout the loaves) and the crust of my loaves, which is chewy with all its bready goodness. I'm happy with the sourness which I understand is a result of the 8-12 hour retarding process. But the issue is that the texture/mouth feel seems a little too dense and the loaf doesn't rise as much as I would like it to. For example on final prove, I would expect shaped loaves to increase in size by at least 60-70%. I would think I'm getting about 20% increase in bulk.
I thought the best place to start my quest would be taking a good hard look at the quality of my starter, but as best I can determine, I'm doing everything I should be.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments?
I would be more than happy to provide photos or further details of my dough recipe.
Any assistance is greatly appreciated.