Why has starter risen again (after falling once)?
Good Friday evening, everyone! I'm the "hybrid" starter lady, in case anyone remembers me from my asking about a starter that was a combo of 6-10 different starters (it's still going strong, still have lots of it, it makes wonderful pancakes, but I haven't gotten up the nerve to try bread with it yet... not knowing the hydration percentage for certain scares me. But ohhh does it look VITAL and smells just GRAND!). Haven't posted since then, but now I've got a question for all you "science-types" out there - about a starter (what else.. sigh).
I've read that it's the oxygen that's so important to the growth & upkeep of the yeastie-beasties, i.e., that you need to stir, stir, stir to incorporate LOTS of oxygen to keep them healthy. Then one day I found a post stating in reality it's that yeast are immobile creatures & cannot 'swim' to the food source; a starter needs to be stirred so the food source comes to them. From my recent experiences, I lean toward the this explanation as being truth, but the whole concept has caused me to question the science behind the action... I hate not knowing WHY!
So what's happened is this...
I fed the starter at 2:30 this afternoon. Just 3 hours later it had doubled (it's really a pretty fast starter). Then, about 6:15 or so I noticed a dent in the middle of the surface that had fresh-looking tiny bubbles - an indication to me that it was starting to fall again. With other activities going on in the kitchen I thought no more of it until about 7 pm.
At that time, sure 'nuff, the level had fallen off.. a little over half an inch lower than where I'd marked the top of the rise. Remembering the 'immobile creature' bit, I stirred the starter back down to around the original level at feeding time - sending more food toward the yeast. And 2 hours later, sure 'nuff, it had again risen to a touch over doubled-height. By 10:15 pm it had fallen again by half an inch, so I assume the rising is over for this feed (could have happened before 10.. not sure.. that's just the time I got around to checking it).
(Sorry for the lengthy explanation but it's the only way I can get this across... I use dry-erase markers to keep track of levels, and while stirring down the starter tonight managed to remove my original feeding/rising marks so can only show in my pic the most recent timing/rising info.)
What I would like to know is exactly what does this mean for my bread-baking? Anything? If I DON'T stir after a fall, is that hurting the yeast? What does it mean as to WHEN I use the starter.. when would be the best time to make a sponge (my current method of making bread)? For a long time I fed my starters twice daily (this resulted in 2-3 1/2 hour proofing then the fall) but I had to take it down to once daily - each afternoon. Does frequency of feeding have anything to do with it falling early & so (seemingly) needlessly? Does it mean, that to get the best rising action in the dough I need to stir it 3 hours after EACH feeding?
Grrrrrr rr r! I'm so conFUSED!! Thought I had it all (fairly) figured out but now feel like a beginner who knows MUCH of - nuthin'! The worst part is thinking I haven't asked the question which REALLY needs to be asked. Well, if anyone knows what I'm talking about (not sure now that I do), please take a shot at explaining the multi-rises?