(Now I think I've figured out the pics -- now I'll try to see if I can get the text with it : )
The above pic is Hamelman's Pain au Levain. It's the first I've made from his book, and I made a half recipe of it since one 1 1/2 lb. loaf is all we need. I keep a firm starter and there are lots of times he uses a liquid one.
1) Does it really matter if I substitute a firm starter for a liquid one, since I'm only using about 14 of it?
2) From what I've read, the different starters (liquid, firm, rye) produce different flavors. But how does their leavening power compare? Are the populations of microorganisms the same per volume or weight unit?
3) The bread is 'flat' where it was slashed. Is because of underproofing?
My understanding is that two things have the most influence on the populations of bugs in a starter: the firmness (or hydration) and the temperature at which it spends most of its time. If you use a lot of the starter and adjust the hydration (without builds from, in your case, 14 gm) then I would expect flavour to vary. If you do two or three builds to get up to the required amount of starter, I'm not sure how rapidly the population changes, so do not know whether it would make any difference.
Sorry again -- I'm using 14 GRAMS of firm starter : )
I don't know if I can answer all your questions but I will try,
1) If you are using what I presume you meant to say "14 oz" of it, then yes, it would have an effect on the flavor since firm starters tend to be more sour and than a liquid starter. Also, it will affect the overall hydration of the dough, either making it to firm or soft because of the starter variation you used. Unless of course you adjust the hydration to match the original specs. On the other hand some folks feel that it really doesn't matter in the end. I myself try to match what the original recipe called for to make sure I get the end results the author/baker was aiming for.
2) The leavening powers of each starter to me, would be the same, as long as an equal amount of starter with the same hydration is used in each seperate loaf with all the same formula percentages as one another, having the starter flour type be the only difference. I think they would all be pretty similar in proofing times and outcomes. Though, I have noticed my rye starter does need a bit more freshing than my 60% white, but this is due to the nutrition of the rye I imagine. I hope a more 'senior' member here can verify or add to this. Because I maybe be wrong all along : (
3) It doesn't appear underproofed since the slash would have exploded more. To me it seems like the slash may have been a bit shallow and at a straight angle, not tilted slightly to produce a lip.
Hope this helps a bit, and hope someone can come along and clear up any messes I made on the bread table during this topic : /
If you read the side notes in Hamelman's BREAD, you'll notice that he states that a liquid levain/ starter contains more proteolytic enzymes than the same quantity of a stiff starter. Protelytic enzymes will cause the proteins in the dough to be digested faster, which makes the dough more extensible, hence better shaping, and lighter bread.
Stif starter contains more acetic/lactic acids which strengthens gluten/ protein and thus makes the dough more elastic.
Even as little as few grams of either two will have a huge impact on the resulting dough properties.
Thanks Mebake, I made a liquid starter and I'll try a bread with it soon. Fascinating stuff!
Hi Mary Clare, I use Hamelman's levain recipes pretty frequently and never fret about whether he calls for stiff or liquid starter, I use my sort of 'in-between' starter and get fine results regardless. I used to try and compensate by adding a few more or less grams of flour but it really doesn't make any discernible difference in my experience.
Thanks Jeremy and browndog,
I may try just using the firm starter in the Hamelman recipes as suggested and compensating a bit in the build. I don't think I'm going to be successful in keeping two starters, one is enough for a beginner!